Best Living Room Area Rugs – Modern & Contemporary in 2023

Tim Parry


photo of two persons standing on carpet

One of the easiest ways to spruce up any part of a home, whether big or small, is with the simple addition of a rug. It’s amazing what some uncomplicated decorating can do to the biggest or smallest of rooms.

You don’t need to be an interior decorator or a qualified professional in home design – there are so many tricks you can learn by following a descriptive guide like this one!

I’m going to be sharing some tips on the differences between area rugs and carpets, the best ways to decorate area rugs and why you should purchase them online. Don’t feel overwhelmed. Once you read through this guide, you’ll feel like an expert in all things rug related!

What is the difference between an area rug and a carpet?

First things first: in order to know how to decorate your space with an area rug, you need to be familiar with the difference between area rugs and carpets. It’s simple, carpets need to be professionally installed as they cover the whole floor of an area, running between all the walls. There is no sign of the original floor once a carpet is installed.

Area rugs are smaller in size and can be moved around in the house. They also don’t cover up the entire floor. These are particularly ideal if you enjoy change and you know you’ll want to play around with its placement.

If you want to start off with an area rug that is neutral in colour but still incredibly modern, this nuLOOM one is a good starting point. It’s nothing too intense and can easily be used in many rooms throughout the house!

Tips when decorating with an area rug

The potential to create a whole new look and feel in a room is absolutely achievable with an area rug. Before choosing an exact rug, take a look at your space and decide on a colour scheme. For smaller rooms a neutral white, cream or beige rug can help in making the room appear bigger than it actually is.

A beautiful, plush, fluffy rug such as the Safavieh Shag Collection rug would make any smaller room look spacious and elegant, without feeling too cluttered.

The simplicity of a neutral-colored rug means that you can incorporate pops of color in other places, without worrying that the rug will clash. For example, a fake palm tree would work wonders as a combination!

However, this does not have to be your only choice. Rugs with more color can work in a smaller room if placed in the right position. Try to keep the rug free from too many things placed on top and instead try to place the furniture around it. Making it your small room’s focal point will be best.

If you have a larger room that you want to decorate, going for a busier rug can make the large space feel fuller. This is a great tip because it means not having to purchase so many unwanted ornaments or side tables, seeing as a rug with more detail or patterns will draw the eye and make up for any emptier spaces.

This Celestial Modern rug is colourful and busy but in the best way possible. Something like this is going to draw the attention away from everything else in the room and it will become the piece that holds the room together.

The colour scheme for this rug is unique. It may be very busy, which can seem intimidating at first, though when you look at the colours they’re in fact very calming, soft shades. It’s basically the best of both worlds and will be a fantastic addition to any large space.

On that note, just as with your smaller room, you don’t have to have a busy rug in a large room. A simple rug can help to keep your space fresh and minimal, which is a wonderful look too.

How to match your rug with your furniture

There are various ways you can go about complementing your rug with your furniture. The first one is fairly straight forward; pick out a rug that is light-toned, ensuring that there won’t be any clashes with furniture you own.

It doesn’t even necessarily have to be a cream or beige shade – soft pastels can be just as fitting. A subdued Persian Area rug such as this one is a winner. This rug still has the beautiful intricate detail that is so captivating, yet the colours are soft and very light. It creates a calming feel that will blend in with most furniture.

The next way to match your rug with your furniture is by taking the accent colors in your room and looking for those in a rug. If you have a lot of dark wooded furniture, for example, a rug with deep reds, burgundy or brown would be suitable.

An Antep Oriental rug can be tailored to many different rooms. The vast array of rich colours means that your furniture will more than likely match, as the dominant colours in your room will pull those out of the rug, making them stand out. This will quickly create a feeling of harmony with the furniture.

It doesn’t have to be a challenge to make your furniture and your rug work together. If they are completely contrasting colors, you can incorporate similarities in ways like adding a vase of the same shade as the rug onto a table in the room. It can be minor touches like this that can tie your rug and furniture together.

Best area rugs for your bedroom – What is the optimal size?

This is initially dependent on the size of your room. Larger rooms that have more space to fill can opt for a rug that will cover most of the floor, which can create the illusion of a smaller space. Smaller rooms have limited space and adding a smaller rug can make it seem as though the room is bigger.

However, whether small or large, when taking into consideration the above guide on matching rugs to your furniture and the decorating tips, you will be able to get away with large or small rugs regardless of room size.

You can also read up on our guide on our "Best Ideas on How to Optimize your Living Room"

This cream and navy Safavieh rug is designed for a large room, with dimensions of 9’x12’. A helpful tip for larger rooms is to place all the furniture within the perimeter of the rug, or at least the main furniture in the room. By doing this you create a space that is arranged with purpose and will complement the larger space.

This Well Woven Modern rug is smaller, with dimensions of 5’x7’2’’. While it has a slightly busier design, it can still be used in smaller rooms to create a cozy and homey feel. Whether you want your bed on top of the rug or rather, your rug placed near the door of the room, this rug is versatile because of its shapes, striking shades, and of course, its smaller size.

In a smaller room, if you are planning on styling a printed rug, sticking to a more minimal decorating theme throughout the rest of the room will help balance the detailed rug with the compact space.

Though, as I mentioned, you can make a large rug work in a small room or a small rug work in a larger room, or vice versa. The key is to focus on picking out the colors that complement your furniture, or still, one particular piece of furniture in particular. There is no rule that states everything needs to be coordinated. That’s the joy with decorating!

Optimal sizes for a modern rug

Modern rugs can be playful and defy any previous standards that were possibly the norm back in the day. Today, identity and imagination are expressed through decorating and interiors, leaving the choices open wide!

With this in mind, you can choose the direction you want to go in – do you want a rug to fill up most of your space, or would you rather keep it smaller as a little pop of interest in a room. If you are a yoga person, putting a 2-inch yoga mat on a area rug works wonders if you want that really soft feel.

If you feel like going for a completely colourful, happy rug, this multicolor geometric one is beyond perfect. It’s particularly suited to a standard size living room, especially because it’s not too big and not too small. The size won’t overpower the room, but it will be big enough to draw colours in the room together.

For a particularly smaller room, a nice touch is to add a runner rug. The longer length and thinner width can be a great addition in opening up the space. This New Wave Rainbow rug includes a beautiful arrangement of colours that run horizontally. This aspect can even add the illusion of a wider room. Though with bright colors such as these, you’ll be too happy to notice!

Why should I buy an area rug online?

As with most purchases online, it can be a bit tricky to determine the correct sizing required, but the plus is that you get to view so many choices without even getting up. If you’re buying an area rug online you get the chance to visualize the space you’ll be placing it in, seeing as you can do your shopping from that exact spot.

Buying your rug online will be a lot less of a hassle and it’s a lot easier to get opinions from your friends and family this way than if you had to drag each of them to the shops individually. It's as easy as buying a juicer online!

At the end of the day, you need your space to represent who you are. Don’t forget to have fun with it though! Use your imagination and be playful.

Take this guide with you as you browse for your rugs, keeping in mind that you can make busy patterns work in any size rooms, you can match your rug to one specific color of furniture or with the entire room and your optimal sized rug is also dependent on what you want that room’s focus to be.

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Tim Parry