Area rugs can be effective design tools for anyone looking to add style and warmth to their living space. But you might probably be asking right now, “Can you put an area rug on top of the carpet?”
Area rugs will usually work best with looped or short-pile carpets. If you’re working with any of those carpet types, what you can do is lay a fluffy and plush shag rug over them to add elegance and softness to your living space. It’s also a good idea to use a Berber or woven rug if you have a plush carpet installed.
Read on to learn practical tips for laying area rug on top of carpet and more.
What Is an Area Rug?
Technically speaking, large area rugs measure between 8’7″ and 12′, medium area rugs measure between 5’1″ and 8’6″, and small area rugs are typically less than 5′. Area rugs differ from carpets as they’re movable and don’t usually span wall to wall. They also tend to have more colorful and detailed designs.
Are Area Rugs Essential?
Should you lay them over carpets? It’s a matter of preference. Here are several compelling reasons to do this:
- The carpet is already showing signs of dullness and wear.
- An affordable and quick way to add some color, personality, or texture to your space.
- Covers unsightly damage or stains, which chemical cleaning products and steam cleaning can’t fix.
- You don’t like the carpet in the place you’re renting.
- You can’t afford to replace your carpet at the moment.
Tips for Laying an Area Rug Over Carpet
While others find it taboo, it shouldn’t deter you from buying area rugs and putting them over carpets. There are many approaches and “rules” out there. Let’s start with the basic ways of adding a rug over a carpet:
1. Vary the Texture
The texture could mean different things. It could refer to the emotions that the construction of the rug evokes. Sometimes, it could mean the weaving process, including:
- Woven, and so on.
Or, it could also mean the pile height of a rug:
- Taller and looser (High-pile), and
- Shorter and tighter (Short-pile).
Create an Eye-catching Texture Through Layering
One of the best ways to create an eye-catching texture is through layering. When layering, make sure to use a mix of textures, especially if you’re going to layer rugs over the carpet, to add more complexity and visual appeal.
For instance, if you have a soft and thick carpet, use a short-pile rug, such as a Berber rug. Add a grainy jute rug or a soft silk rug over it for a standard carpet. You could also combine a wool rug with a jute rug.
Avoid Using a Thick Rug Over a Plush Rug
Avoid putting a thick area rug over a plush carpet. It’s also not a good idea to put an area rug over a carpet with tall and fluffy fibers, such as a shag carpet (1/2″ to 3/4″ in height), because it’s bound to shift and wrinkle.
2. Patterns Should Complement Each Other
Choosing the correct patterns can be tricky. If you do too much, you could overwhelm the existing décor of your room. So, here are a few things to keep in mind when mixing and matching rug patterns, colors, and textures:
Pair a neutral-colored carpet with a neutral-colored area rug. Neutral colors exhibit warm and cool tones, including black, brown, gray, tan, and white. Choose this combination if you’re not interested in putting an eye-catching area rug or you want a room that’s less distracting and overwhelming.
Mix in Solid Colors
Don’t use a patterned rug over a patterned carpet because it will not look good. Instead, you can pair your patterned carpet with an area rug that has a solid color or doesn’t have any pattern at all.
Use a Different Pattern Scale
You might be able to get away with an area rug with a simple pattern if you place it on a plain, flat broadloom carpet. But if you want to make two patterned area rugs work well, make sure their patterns vary in size and dimension.
For instance, pick an area rug with a small and subtle pattern for your carpet with a larger and bolder design. Just make sure they have one color in common.
3. Always Match the Color of Your Carpet
It’s tempting to skip this part, but you can’t just throw down an area rug that clashes with the color of your carpet. It’s bound to destroy the decorative harmony of your room.
Be Careful in Choosing Rugs with High-contrast Colors
If your carpet has a solid color, you’ll have more freedom to experiment with area rugs of different colors. If the area rug you want has a solid color or simple pattern, go opposite. Be careful, however, not to choose area rugs with high-contrast colors or too many shades or patterns.
Choose Neutral Colors for Beach-themed Rooms
Choose a light-colored area rug to make the space look bigger if the area is small. Neutral colors, such as beige, gray, and white, are perfect for beach-themed rooms.
Choose Area Rugs with Cool Hues for a Calming Environment
Choose area rugs with cool hues, such as blue, green, and purple, for a more calming environment. Add brightly colored area rugs to perk your mood.
Again, is it okay to put a rug on top of the carpet? It is best to put area rugs on short-pile or looped carpet. Adding a thick and luxurious shag rug will make your space elegant. Meanwhile, if you have a plush carpet style, it is best to add a Berber or woven rug.
4. Size and Shape Matter
Visualize Using Painter’s Tape
Your area rug should be the right size concerning the room, or else it’s going to look awkward and cheap. Suppose you need help visualizing a room or carpet with an area rug, use painter’s tape. Put the tape around the area where you’ll place your rug, then position your furniture around it.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Area Rugs’ Size and Shape
There are three things you need to consider when choosing the size and shape of your area rugs:
- Size of your wall-to-wall carpet
- Furniture placement
- Size and shape of the room where you’re going to lay them
How to Determine the Carpet’s Size for a Rectangular and Irregular Room
To determine the size of a corresponding carpet, all you need to do is multiply the length and width of a room to get the square footage. So, if a room measures 12 by 18 feet, the square footage is 216.
However, if the room does not have a single and rectangular layout, or if it has an irregular shape, follow these steps:
- Identify the areas where you want to lay your wall-to-wall carpet and area rug: Take note of the number of rooms to be carpeted. Are there extra connecting spaces?
- Get the main rooms’ measurements (square feet): This includes hallways, doorways, and closets. Since the room has an irregular layout, divide it into squares (or rectangles, if you prefer).
- Measure each square, then add all of them together: To make things simpler, it’s a good idea to round up inches to the nearest foot so, if you get a measurement of 13.7, just round it up to 14.
- Note: If the room is “L” shape, measure it as two separate rooms.
- Repeat the previous step for the two walls to get the width.
- Add a few inches: After you already have the measurements, don’t forget to add a few inches (or at least 10% for trim) to each piece of carpet you’ll need. This will give you a bit of room for errors.
5. Anchor Your Area Rugs
One of the most common issues of laying an area on top of a carpet is there’s a possibility of slipping, tripping, and wrinkling. That’s why aside from color, style, and texture, it’s important to make sure your area rug doesn’t become a safety hazard.
Why Does an Area Rug Shift on a Carpet?
The main reason rugs bunch up and move on a carpet is because they usually follow the movement of your carpet’s pile on foot impact. Since most carpet piles sweep toward the direction of the main entrance, your area rug will also move towards that direction when you walk on it.
How to Secure an Area Rug on Top of Carpet
Here are the best ways how to secure an area rug on top of carpet without damaging either one of them:
Buy “carpet-to-carpet” pads, which are specifically used to keep an area rug from moving or wrinkling when placed on top of a carpet. The surface of a rug pad is made of felt, which attaches itself to your carpet’s fibers. Meanwhile, the bottom is made of natural rubber to keep it in place.
Double-Sided Carpet Tape
A double-sided carpet tape works similarly to a standard double-sided tape. The only differences are it’s stickier and stronger.
The most common types of double-sided carpet tape are made of adhesives or glue, rubber, and silicone.
Among all of them, it’s the silicone-based ones that are considered the best because they’re stronger, don’t leave any sticky residue, and are least likely to damage carpet, rug, or flooring. The downside is that the adhesive will wear down after a reasonable time.
When buying a double-sided carpet tape, check the tensile strength. A standard carpet tape with a tensile strength of 25 pounds per square inch is often strong enough to keep carpets and rugs in place.
Use Furniture as a Rug Anchor
Instead of bulky living room furniture, perhaps you could use pieces of furniture with small, long, and narrow proportions, such as a sofa table or a footrest. In this way, your area rug still stays in place yet visible.
6. Mix Multiple Area Rugs
For some reason, many people are hesitant to put together multiple rugs in one area of their home. No rule prevents you from using more than one rug, especially when placing an area rug on top of a carpet.
Feel free to mix and match different area rugs. The space is yours!
How Do You Know If You Should Use One or More Area Rugs in a Room?
For designers, one deciding factor is the size of the room. Use a single area rug for small spaces by doorways or walls. For open-concept spaces, such as lofts, they’ll usually benefit from multiple area rugs. This will help break up a layout in the absence of walls.
7. Use Complementary Area Rugs
Another option is to combine your wall-to-wall carpet with complementary rugs. If done correctly, this is a great way to reinforce a color scheme or introduce color into a room.
You can keep it simple. Maybe combine two or more area rugs with solid complimentary colors. Or, you can choose area rugs with different patterns but the same color.
Remember: The patterns should visually work well together.
8. Layer Them
Layering might be an unlikely concept, but it can work. Designers have been doing this for a long time, especially when working on a room with adequate space and little furniture.
Place Two Area Rugs on Top of Each Other
You can place two area rugs on top of each other, with the large and pattern-free area rug placed underneath the smaller and decorative area rug.
Or, you could layer based on the rug material and weaving style. For instance, you could place a big sisal rug on the bottom of a beautiful, flat-woven rug, such as Dhurries and Kilim rugs.
Be Careful Not to Overdo It
The last thing you want is to have the pile too high that it becomes an eyesore and a tripping hazard. As much as possible, limit it to three layers.
Conclusion – Rug on Top of Carpet
It’s not dumb or unfashionable to lay rugs on top of a carpet. Area rugs and carpets can work well together as long as they have something in common: color, style, or pattern. Consider the tips I’ve given you to help you pick the perfect area rug to layer on your carpet.