Dear Jenny: Can I Use a Rug on my Wall-to-Wall Carpet?

Here’s a question from a reader that I know many of you living in newer homes have asked yourself:

Hi Jenny,
I am helping with a friend on her house (just a few ideas for her girl’s nursery) & I suggested that she put a rug on top of her carpet. She declined & I persisted. :) She finally said she thinks it looks tacky & cheap. Oh no! I have never thought that and I’m wondering if I’m way off-base. Does it just depend on the type of rug (weight of it) or do rugs on top of carpet always look tacky?

I’m going to open this one up to the comments section, because I think the vote is going to be pretty split. Also my answer is a pretty lame one: it depends. I think overall, I prefer no area rugs on top of wall-to-wall carpeting, at least carpeting that has a pile greater than 1/2″. I feel like the area rug never sits right on top of shaggier carpet.

Here are some examples that I do like in kids rooms. Notice how low the pile is with all of these carpets:


Serena and Lily


House and Home Magazine


unknown


Marie Claire Maison


Coastal Living


Angie Hranowsky (thanks Vinyasa Mama for the source!)

And of course, I LOVE the look of an area rug layered on top of natural fiber rugs or flooring.


Lonny


O at Home


Country Living


Peter Dunham

When we rented a house in Delaware last year, our bedrooms upstairs had carpeting and I opted out of floor rugs. I actually felt like it was a bit of a bonus. Rugs are EXPENSIVE!! If you were counting on the rug to add some pattern or to define the space, use the hundreds of dollars you’re saving to invest in a pair of benches with a great pattern. Or amazing window treatments.

What do you think, readers? Do any of you have area rugs layered on top of your carpet? How is it working for you?

P.S. If you have a very general question about home decor that you would like to see answered here, please email your submission to jenny @jennykomenda.com. Please keep the emails brief and remember that the question should be relevant to most LGN readers.

**PPS As I was waiting for the photos to upload for this post, I was lost in thought, staring at my desk. Suddenly I realized that what I was staring at was an area rug on top of high pile carpet on the cover of this month’s Elle Decor! Looks great here:

  1. Anonymous

    I think it depends as well – I prefer NOT having a rug on top of a non-smooth carpet, BUT I chose to put one in my living room because the dimensions of the room make it so that I feel I need a rug to anchor it…

  2. i've got one in my living room on top of somewhat high pile carpet, and i've never thought twice about it. it anchors the living room furniture that wouldn't otherwise make sense. and it stays in place and doesnt curl. i'm wondering if the nursery rug was just too small so that was tackier looking?? mine's large

  3. LuAnn

    No one has mentioned dining rooms. What do you do in a rental with carpet under the dining room table?

  4. heather

    I hate rugs over wall to wall carpeting. Kilim or cotton rugs over larger sisal rugs look great.

    I'm amazed by the amount of wall to wall carpeting I see in blogs. The nurseries, the living rooms. Is that a post-war construction thing? I guess living in NYC I assume most people have hard wood. Not so.

    • Jody

      Hardwood is beautiful, it can create an echo and be cold I’m the winter. An area rug can soft and accent wood floors. If It didn’t complete the look you wouldn’t find it every where.

    • Laura

      Carpeting is common in post-war buildings, particularly suburban complexes. I just signed a lease for a carpeted apartment. I usually hate carpet but I didn’t have a choice.

  5. Absolutely. My son's room has neutral carpet and neutrally-patterned area rug. I love the layered look. I feel like this is something that can be compared to clothing. Adding a layer or two adds visual interest and a more dressed up and pulled together look.

  6. angie

    Just beware if you do layer the area rug over the wall-to-wall, sometimes doing that makes the area rug emit a bad odor. I have a Pottery Barn area rug that I never noticed stinking when it sat on my hardwood floors, then my mother took it to babysit for a couple of years when I moved. She put it on top of her carpet in the guest room and it gave off a really foul odor. I reclaimed it and put it back on hardwood and it doesn't smell now. It had to have something to do with being on top of carpet.

    • Dan

      Chances are the smell was coming from the wall-to-wall carpet, not the area rug. Unless the carpet had just been cleaned, it contains lots of bacteria that emit odors. Normally the bacteria population would stay under control and the small amount of odor would dissipate into the air and you never notice them. But cover them up with a rug, and the carpet will retain more moisture and not get any light, causing the bacteria to thrive and create enough odor to be noticeable.

      Thoroughly clean your carpets before you place a rug on them.

  7. My general question would be, how to arrange pillows on couches?

    I know mixing patterns and colors are the thing to do but I get stuck after that point. I have two couches. How many pillows do I use? Two, Three, Even numbers, odd numbers? I Just don't know. Any help would be GREAT!!

  8. Amber

    We have two rugs on top of our standard-issue apartment beige carpet. Both were leftovers from my hardwood-floors apartment and I couldn't bear to part with them. I think one of them really helps define the space, but the other one, if I'm honest, doesn't look that great.

  9. I love rugs over carpet, and have esp been fond of them in our house in the kids' rooms. They add that extra perfect layer. I'm a fan.

  10. Jane

    I love a good rug, you can really make it the focal point of a room- but some rooms just don't need one and they can end up looking too much. Thanks for another great blog post!

  11. Now I know why my living room looks so dreadful. I am renting and the owners had installed black shag carpeting in the living room. I have a dark brown leather sofa for that room and it was just too dark. I bought a gigantic rug to try and cover up the black carpet and lighten the room but it looks awful to me. Sigh, not sure what to do now… I like the rugs over low pile carpets though.

  12. Vee

    I have a cream wall to wall carpet in my lounge and have a white and beige deeply sculptured rug over it, it looks great. Feels very luxurious under foot and is a true statement piece. Everyone comments positively about it. I say go with what you like.

  13. Kathleen

    How do you keep the area rug from waving and bulking?

  14. Cheryl Schulze

    I just told my husband the other dau I wanted a rug on top of our cream wall to wall carpet he commented it would be tackey, I am now going to purchase me one . I want it under my furniture ( partially).
    Thanks for all the comments.

  15. The Dude

    It really ties the room together.

    • Maude

      :-D

  16. Angel

    While I prefer hardwood or tile with rugs.

    Apartment rental living seems to always bring low density shag carpet these days. It gets dirty and shows high traffic patterns to easily.

    So i am looking at using rugs to cover these high traffic more dingy areas. But I am worried about the rippling, waving and movement.

    Besides using furniture to anchor the rug, any other ideas?

    • Sherri

      I have an apartment with HORRID wall to wall carpeting–it buckles and has frayed, worn, stained. Management could be coerced to replace but I would essentially have to move out in order for them to do it. Area rugs have been my savior. I have different patterns and textures layered to look purposefully designed rather than “covering something up.” I get many complements for my aesthetic and no one is the wiser. I have a large, woven jute rug with a checkerboard pattern, a faux acrylic cowhide, and a cream wool shag. None buckle or roll so I don’t think you have to worry about that unless you were getting something less-than-sturdy like a rag or throw rug.

  17. Carol Murphy

    I live in an apartment with ugly gray commercial carpet. Want to put an area carpet over it. Do i match the area rug to the furniture or should the carpet also have the color of the carpet in it also

    • Kiran

      I would pick a color I am comfortable with. You can play with some contrasting colors with your furniture for that fresh and lively look.

      I think matching the color of the carpet to the color of the rug would defeat the purpose of elevating the living room. Just my thoughts!

  18. Marcy

    I have area rugs on my bedroom carpet. They look great…My question…How can I stop them from moving. They don’t stay put and I can’t find pads for rug on rug. Help?

  19. Patria Moore

    I was thinking about putting the rug on the wall. My husband says that look is updated. What di you think. Patria6789@yahoo.com

  20. These images are very good to display someone how beautiful they can make their room, there was a time I used to think that it is not important to decorate your home, simple lifestyle is good, but now I really wanted to set my room like this :D

  21. Patricia Malinenko

    I have wall to wall in my apartment..hate it. So in one of the bedrooms I put a 8×11 area rug. When I put my furniture on top of the rug it had lumps and waves that I can not get rid of. Why did this happen. Was the area rug too thick or the carpeting pile to high? It lays flat as long as no furniture is on it. Not happy!

  22. , it is awesome. That info is really excellent about carpet. Thanks…

  23. Val

    I am renting a nice little patio home and the living room and bedrooms have brown shag carpet and the owners do not want to change carpet. What can I do with rugs to lighten up the room? Gives me a dreary telling when you walk into the front door to be met with brown carpet. Any suggestions? Val

  24. Ramona

    What about size ? How far away from the walls- 2 feet? And then my living room is one big open extension into the dining room with a full dining suite. How far do I stay away from that if my area rug is in the “living room area”?

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  30. Maureen

    Help. I want to put a faux sisal (Asthma and allergies) over a Karastan area rug for the summer months so that I can use summer colors (blue/white/yellow…) pillow covers. I have slipcovers for sofa and chairs but my rug is earth tones. Karastan said not to put anything over the Karastan area rug. Any thoughts? Thanks.

  31. Pingback: Amazing Area Rug On Top Of Carpet Innovation | Rug Ideas

  32. Harriet Roman

    I have an area rug over my new wall to wall carpet in my dining room; to save the carpet from spills, staining etc. The rug will not stay put and always looks sloppy. I went to the carpet store and they told me, that unless it is a low pile carpet, an area rug will slide; putting any tape to hold the area rug to the wall to wall, will ruin the new carpet. So I guess I am SOL or I will have to remove the area rug from the dining room. BUT I do love it and would prefer to keep it!!! So ????

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