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How do I know what color rug to get?

Choosing the right color rug for your space can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips to help you select the perfect rug color for your room.

What are you trying to achieve with the rug?

Before choosing a rug color, first consider what you want the rug to accomplish in the room. Here are some common interior design goals a rug can help achieve:

  • Warm up a cold space – Earth tones like beige, brown, tan, and terracotta can make a room feel cozier.
  • Brighten up a dark room – Light colors like white, cream, or pale gray will reflect light and make the room feel more open.
  • Anchor the furniture – A large rug in a dark accent color can ground the furniture and define the seating area.
  • Add a pop of color – A brightly colored rug can add energy to a neutral room.
  • Pull the color scheme together – Choose a rug color from the room’s existing palette to tie the whole design together.

Once you determine the look and feel you want the rug to create, you can narrow down your color options.

Consider the size of the rug

The size of your rug is another factor in choosing its color. Here are some tips for selecting a color based on rug size:

  • Small rug – Aim for bold colors and patterns since it will be mostly visible. Dark colors can also make a small rug look bigger.
  • Medium rug – Feel free to use lighter colors and subtle patterns since there will still be a good amount of rug showing.
  • Large rug – Go for lighter or muted colors so the rug doesn’t overwhelm the room. Layer a textured pattern over a light background.
  • Runner – Choose a color that complements your floor since most of the floor will still be exposed. Match it to the color scheme.
  • Wall-to-wall – A neutral foundation is best for a wall-to-wall rug. Layer bright colors and patterns on top.

Take note of the flooring

The color and style of your existing flooring should factor into your rug color selection. Here’s how to coordinate them:

  • Hardwood – Choose a color that complements the wood tones. Avoid matching it exactly or the contrast will be too harsh.
  • Tile – Look for rug colors that tie into the tile color for a unified look. Muted solids or subtle patterns work best.
  • Carpet – Opt for a rug that contrasts with the carpeting so it stands out as a defined space. Bold colors and vivid patterns look great.
  • Neutral – If your floors are white, beige or gray, you have the most flexibility. Any rug color will pop against them.

In general, make sure the rug is not the exact same color as the flooring but has some contrast. You want the rug to define the space, not blend in.

Take the room’s purpose into account

Consider the room’s purpose when selecting a rug color. Here are some rug color tips for specific rooms:

  • Living room – Choose a rug color that encourages conversation and relaxation. Neutrals, blues, greens work well.
  • Dining room – Opt for stain-masking colors like patterns, rusty reds, or dark browns in dining spaces.
  • Bedroom – Rug colors like light blue, lavender, and soft greens promote rest. Avoid energizing reds.
  • Kid’s room – Have fun with bright, whimsical rug colors and patterns that match their personality.
  • Entryway – Ground the space with earthy reds, browns, or blacks. Hide dirt in busy patterns.

Selecting a rug color purposefully for each living space results in a put-together, polished interior design.

Factor in how much natural light the room gets

The amount of natural light your room gets should guide your rug color selection:

  • Well-lit – Go for light, bright colors and airy patterns. White or pale rugs reflect light well.
  • Medium light – Choose lighter or muted versions of darker colors. Gray is a safe bet.
  • Low light – Warm, darker accent colors work best like deep reds, chocolate browns, or navy.
  • No natural light – Make the most of artificial lighting with rug colors on the lighter end of the spectrum.

Rooms with ample daylight can handle lighter rugs while darker rug colors help rooms feel bright and lively even with minimal light.

Play with pattern and texture

Don’t forget to factor in pattern and texture when selecting a rug color. Here are some tips:

  • Solid color – Choose a darker, richer shade as the sole color to make a statement. Layer patterns on top.
  • Simple pattern – Opt for medium to lighter rug colors so the minimal pattern stands out.
  • Bold pattern – Go for a lighter rug base in cream or gray so the vibrant pattern pops.
  • Shag or wool – Mix these luxe textures in with neutral and earth tone colors for a cozy vibe.
  • Faux fur – Stick with white or light gray as a base to let the dramatic texture shine.

Rug patterns and pile type add visual interest and dimension. Select colors that enhance the overall look.

Don’t overlook your wall color

Pulling your rug color from the wall paint is an easy way to tie everything together. Some coordinating strategies include:

  • Neutral walls – For a calm, quiet look, choose rug colors in the same neutral family like beige walls with a cream rug.
  • Colored walls – For a tailored style, opt for a rug in the exact same accent color as your painted walls.
  • Patterned walls – Pick out one of the colors from the wallpaper and use it as your rug color.
  • Dark walls – Choose a light, bright rug to contrast and balance the dark paint color.

Referring back to your wall color is a handy trick for deciding on a rug that complements the whole room.

Don’t go matchy-matchy

A common rug mistake is going too matchy-matchy with the accent colors in the room. While some coordination is good, rugs that exactly match the pillows, curtains and accessories make the room look overdone and tacky. Here are some tips to strike the right balance:

  • Neutrally colored room – Add one pop of color with the rug against the neutral backdrop to avoid matching.
  • Colored accents – If you have blue throw pillows, layer an orange rug to complement the blue instead of matching it.
  • Wood furniture – Bring out secondary tones with your rug instead of matching the exact wood stain color.
  • Multiple colors – Weave two or three accent colors together through pattern and texture instead of matching all.

The right rug color coordination with decor creates a cohesive yet multifaceted look.

Order rug samples

If you are still unsure what rug color is best for your space, most retailers offer inexpensive 8″x10″ rug samples so you can test out colors and patterns first. Some tips for rug sampling:

  • Order 3-4 samples in colors you are considering. Compare in the room.
  • Look at samples in natural daylight during different parts of day.
  • Lay samples in a few spots in the room to see effect.
  • Drape coordinating pillows or blankets over the samples as you view them.
  • Have friends and family give you input on what looks best.

Ordering rug samples helps take the guesswork out of choosing that perfect color for your space.


Selecting just the right rug color may seem tricky, but keeping your room’s purpose, existing elements, and design goals in mind helps simplify the process. Always aim for a rug color that enhances your room instead of clashing or matching too closely. Bring home rug samples, try out combinations, and solicit unbiased opinions. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to find a beautiful, functional rug color that suits your unique space.

Rug Color Works Best In Coordinates With Avoid If…
Ivory or Cream Modern or minimalist rooms Neutrals like white, tan, gray You have small children or pets
White Bright, airy rooms Pastels, navy, greens The room doesn’t get much natural light
Black Dramatic spaces or as an accent Grays, whites, vivid colors The room feels small or dark already
Gray Versatile for any room Almost any color palette You want a bold color statement
Navy Coastal inspired rooms Whites, reds, yellows The space lacks light
Green Relaxing living rooms or bedrooms Floral patterns, antique woods You dislike bold colors
Red Dining rooms or entries Browns, oranges, golds You want a subtle look
Orange Playrooms, kids’ rooms, patios Blues, greens, yellows You don’t want an energetic vibe
Yellow Cottage style rooms Greens, blues, grays The lighting is poor
Purple Bold accent in any room Grays, pinks, blues You prefer traditional color schemes

This table summarizes some of the most popular rug color choices, along with the rooms they work in, colors that complement them, and factors to avoid.

Define your style

Your interior design style should guide your rug color selection. Here are some rug color recommendations based on popular decorating styles:

  • Contemporary: Choose sleek solid colors like gray, brown, slate blue. White and black rugs also look modern.
  • Midcentury Modern: Mix blues, grays and earth tones together in simple geometric patterns.
  • Rustic/ Farmhouse: Look for warm neutral tones like beige, brown, tan and cream. Incorporate reds and navy.
  • Traditional: Traditional rooms suit classic rug colors like red, navy, emerald green and camel.
  • Eclectic: Use vibrant accent colors and woven multicolor rugs to create an eclectic mix.
  • Coastal: Pull colors from seascapes with blues, sand colors, coral and seafoam green.
  • Scandinavian: The white, gray, charcoal color scheme keeps this style looking light and bright.
  • Bohemian: Draw from exotic spice colors like fuchsia, turquoise, saffron and lime green.

Each design aesthetic leans towards certain rug color families for a cohesive look.

Enhance room function

Beyond just style, also consider how rug color affects a room’s function. Here are some examples:

  • Dark rug colors can define a conversation area in an open concept home.
  • Black and white checkerboard rugs bring fun to a kids’ playroom.
  • Brightly colored rugs designate special kids’ spaces like reading nooks.
  • A soothing sage green dining room rug softens loud conversations.
  • Rugs with colorful roads and tracks motivate children to play and move.
  • A colorful entryway rug welcomes guests and captures dirt and moisture.

Whatever the room’s purpose, there is a creative way to use rug color to support it.

Factor in fiber and construction

A rug’s fiber and construction influence the optimal color choice:

  • Braided rugs look best in solid, slightly muted colors to show off the texture.
  • Brightly colored wool rugs hold up well in high traffic areas.
  • Jute and sisal work well in light natural hues like beige, tan or gray.
  • Fluffy sheepskin rugs make cozy focal points in creamy whites or grays.
  • Sleek silk rugs can handle deep, saturated colors without looking too busy.
  • Stain-hiding synthetics and polypropylene suit deep reds, browns and blacks.

The rug’s materials guide what color intensities will look best and withstand wear and tear.

Test out colors

Seeing rug color samples in your room is the best way to make a decision. Here are easy ways to test colors:

  • Lay out paint color swatches on the floor to get a feel for how carpet colors will look.
  • Arrange different colored towels, blankets or area rugs where you want to place the new rug.
  • Pin fabric swatches to the wall and view rugs below to coordinate colors.
  • Use an app like DecorMat to visualize different rug colors digitally.
  • Purchase rug samples from online retailers to view colors and patterns.

With some creativity and an experimental mindset, you can preview any rug color in your room before purchasing.

Make it personal

At the end of the day, choose a rug color you genuinely love. Here are some ways to give it a personal touch:

  • Draw inspiration from favorite pieces of clothing or interior details.
  • Incorporate the colors of a cherished heirloom like a quilt or painting.
  • Reflect the colors found outdoors like green grass, blue water or white snow.
  • Highlight a favorite hue like energetic orange or calming violet.
  • Showcase colors with personal symbolic meaning like red for passion or pink for love.

Choosing rug colors that speak to you personally results in a custom look you’ll enjoy for years.

Change colors with the seasons

Rugs come in a wide range of reversible and interchangeable styles that allow you to rotate colors with the seasons:

  • Reversible rugs – These rugs have different color patterns on each side, so you can flip them when you want a new look.
  • Rug sets – Purchase a few same-sized rugs in different colors and swap them out as the seasons change.
  • Washable rugs – Affordable wool and cotton rugs can be popped in the washing machine to restore vibrancy.