Experts Floor Us With Their Secrets on Finding the Best Area Rugs Online
Including why you should wait until Labor Day to snag a deal.
Published Apr 6, 2021 3:00 AM
Mixing, matching, layering—an area rug can do it all. Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to update your space without breaking the bank, adding the right rug can quickly tie a room together. But with a myriad of materials, sizes, and style options, finding the best one for your home is often easier said than done.
“A rug makes or breaks a room; it’s art for your floor,” says Emily Addison, Momeni’s head of branding and partnerships. To take the mystery out of the search, we narrowed down seven options backed by strong reviews that are ready to ship straight to your front door. And if you’re in need of a little extra guidance, we tapped the experts to advise which details you should truly mull over before clicking that “add to cart” button.
The Short List
- Best overall: Loloi II Layla Collection Area Rug
- Best value: NuLoom Ofelia Hand Tufted Wool Area Rug, Multi
- Best neutral: Crate & Barrel Presley Neutral Heathered Rug
- Best wool: West Elm Wanderer Shag Rug
- Best jute: Safavieh Natural Fiber Collection Chunky Textured Jute
- Best vintage look: Rugs.com El Paso Collection Rug
- Best handmade: Momeni Rugs Newport Collection Contemporary Area Rug
Best Overall: Loloi II Layla Collection Area Rug
Best Value: NuLoom Ofelia Hand Tufted Wool Area Rug, Multi
For a playful pop of pattern and color, this hand-tufted wool rug is begging to be the centerpiece of your room. Wool is one of the most commonly produced natural fibers and the most durable, but the multicolored design from NuLoom is a unique take on the material’s typical reserved looks. Amazon shoppers are obsessed—it’s easy to clean, hides dirt, and feels thick to the touch. But its top-rated feature? Best value for the money.
Best Neutral: Crate & Barrel Presley Neutral Heathered Rug
A neutral area rug can be the perfect blank canvas, softening an entire room and letting other features—an on-trend curvy mirror or fun wallpaper pattern—take the front seat. This Crate & Barrel exclusive is mostly composed of a matte ivory yarn, but a closer look reveals flecks of blue, gray, and tan. Despite its subtle color scheme, its geometric pattern plays with the low, loop pile to add dimension. Previous purchasers have happily placed this piece in dining rooms, bedrooms, living rooms, and even kids’ rooms, solidifying its versatility as a flexible neutral.
Best Vintage Look: Rugs.com El Paso Collection Rug
One of Fennoy’s favorite pastimes is scouring Etsy for vintage finds—it’s where the best deals are hiding. “Antique vintage is a great way to find something really unique, high quality, and at a good price. It means you have to hunt and have resources to do that, but I think you will get the most bang for your buck,” she notes. But for those who don’t have the time to hunt for a one-of-a-kind area rug, Rugs.com’s El Paso collection may be the next best thing. A more contemporary, geometric pattern, its bright colors (how can you go wrong with pink?) offer a Southwestern flair and at an affordable price point—at 8-by-10 feet, it comes in under $300.
Best Wool: West Elm Wanderer Shag Rug
Your feet will thank you for the Wanderer Shag Rug, a new wool offering by West Elm that’s already become a best-seller. With a high pile of 1.6 inches, its best bet is in a bedroom or living room for an extra layer of warmth and comfort. Wool is often derived from sheep, and this shag-style rug is made from 100 percent premium New Zealand wool. “Wool is the gold standard; I always propose it in every class of a project,” says Danielle Fennoy, owner of New York–based studio Revamp and self-proclaimed area rug connoisseur. “It’s durable, cleanable, sustainable—it’s all the good things.” Though, buyer beware: Going the wool route means shedding (requiring a good deal of vacuuming), sometimes up to a year.
Fennoy is also a big fan of sisal fiber and often relies on this style as a base layer to let smaller area rugs shine. And some Amazon reviewers did just that—one used it as a long kitchen runner underneath a bohemian statement piece, and another as the blank canvas for a small cowhide in the living room. But it shines as a stand-alone product, too. For a 10-by-10-foot square, this medium-thick jute is both reversible and borderless. It’s not the softest option on this list by a long stretch, but it can do double duty as a foot massage. In fact, Fennoy equates it to the sensation of a pumice stone. “Some people hate it because it’s scratchy, but I like it. It feels spa-like,” she says.
Best Handmade: Momeni Rugs Newport Collection Contemporary Area Rug
Newport has been one of Momeni’s top-selling collections since 2015. Addison notes it’s enjoying newfound popularity thanks to the hand-drawn floral pattern—a nod to the botanical textile designs first made famous by William Morris—which speaks to the cottagecore trend. The original multicolored option also comes in popular navy and blue colorways. Hand-tufted in India, this wool rug is inherently durable. With a tradition of offering handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces, Addison notes the company today is aiming to offer high design in high-performance rugs.
What to Consider Before Buying an Area Rug
Fennoy recommends asking what purpose the area rug needs to serve first. Do you want a showstopping conversation starter or something more durable to stand up to kids’ meals and muddy pet paws? Are you trying to hide flooring imperfections, like an outdated carpet, or muffle the music coming from your noisy neighbors?
For Loloi this will determine what you should look for. Busy households may do better with synthetic fibers that are stain- and fade-resistant, he suggests, but adds you can’t go wrong with a hand-knotted or -tufted rug if you really want to elevate an area.
That isn’t to say, however, that mass-produced rugs are inferior. “Technology has come so far in this industry,” notes Loloi. “Many of these offer the luxurious feel, colorfastness, and design that their handmade counterparts do, but at a fraction of the cost.”
How an area rug is made—or its construction—is the ultimate clue to how a product will look and feel. Like carpet, area rugs are compiled through a series of knots or loops woven together by hand or machine. Each technique, such as hooked or tufted, can determine the height of a rug, or what manufacturers refer to as the pile. If you’re on the lookout for something super-plush, search for a pile that’s at least 1 inch or higher. A good rule of thumb: The taller the knot or the denser the fiber, the higher the pile and the comfier the rug will be underfoot.
But a high-pile rug can be susceptible to matting in high-traffic areas. A flat-weave, for example, does not have a pile. Its tightly braided structure doesn’t require a backing and is less likely to unravel, allowing it to flourish in hallways and entryways.
Type of Fiber
Fiber types can be divided into two main categories: natural and synthetic. The most common natural rug fibers include wool, silk, cotton, and different grasses, such as sisal and jute. Nylon, viscose, and what Addison refers to as the polys—mainly polyester and polypropylene—make up the man-made camp. “I always try to propose natural fibers,” says Fennoy, who avidly avoids viscose. “It will stain and yellow after just two drops of water.”
For the best of both worlds, Addison recommends finding a blend, such as wool and nylon—you’ll have the longevity of wool without the shedding.
Color, Pattern, and Design
The best area rugs offer limitless design possibilities. If you can’t start from the ground up in your selection process, think carefully about the furniture and decor already in place. A bold pattern with bright colors—the magic number is three, says Fennoy—will pair perfectly with quieter upholstery and vice versa.
Fennoy prefers multicolored rugs (they’re better at hiding stains), but if you do fall in love with a solid, play with texture to add visual interest. “Think about the pile heights, the patterning,” she notes. “Don’t worry about being matchy-matchy.”
Fennoy also favors timeless, traditional patterns over current favorites (think: diamond shapes and zigzag patterns). To satisfy your trend cravings, defer to other textiles like pillowcases or throws. Rugs, advises Fennoy, should be an investment.
Pro Tips for Finding the Best Area Rug
More than aesthetic or construction, experts agree getting the size right is the single most important step. Figuring out what pattern speaks to your personality comes later.
To avoid ending up with an awkward size, make sure you select dimensions large enough for the front feet of your furniture to touch. The price jump from 5-by-8 feet to 8-by-10 feet can be intimidating (it basically doubles), but Addison promises making that leap is worth it. On Amazon, Momeni provides shoppers with examples of its rugs in different sizes to show how each should appear underneath a bed, sofa, or love seat.
And don’t forget a pad—not only will it anchor your rug in place (and help keep corners laying flat), it will double as extra cushion underfoot (a win-win).
- Determine the right size first: If you can’t afford the 8-by-10 rug your living room deserves, consider splurging on a smaller statement piece and layering it over a more affordable, neutral option.
- If you aren’t in a rush, hold off until the next seasonal sale to snag a deal—Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Black Friday as the best times to find low prices.
- For the most unique styles, Loloi swears by one-of-a-kind collections. “This means you will have a rug or textile design that cannot be found anywhere else in the world,” he adds.
Every product is independently selected by (obsessive) editors. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.