This post may contain references or links to products from one or more partners of our parent company and/or subsidiaries of our parent company. For more information, visit this page.
January 26, 2022
We’re just going to come right out and say it: carpet is one of the best flooring choices around. There are so many different types of carpet on the market that it’s easy to find the perfect color and style for any taste.
However, have you ever had the urge for…more? Well, did you know that some people like to put area rugs on top of their carpets? You might be asking, isn’t that a little redundant? Well, yes and no. Besides, who says redundancy has to be a bad thing?
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First, we’ll discuss the situations in which layering an area rug over carpet works (and why you may want to do it). Then, we’ll quickly cover some rug safety tips (yes, there is such a thing) and how to safely add them to your decor without making your home look like a mess. Finally, we’ll share some ideas on how to make this approach work for you.
We guarantee you’ll have a few new ideas for your home by the end of this article!
Table of Contents
Is it OK to Put an Area Rug Over Carpet?
The short answer: yes, it’s perfectly fine to do so!
Granted, not everybody will agree with this decision. It can be a love/hate situation for some people, but the truth is you aren’t going to please everybody. However, know that many designers embrace putting an area rug over carpet, so you will have some loud and proud supporters.
Home decor is a personal choice; you’re the lucky one who gets to live with it! So if you like something, we say go for it.
The practice of putting rugs on carpet has existed for as long as carpet and rugs have been around. People have found many reasons to take advantage of this concept over the years. It can be a helpful way to take care of a problem or just a way to spruce up a room.
The idea of layering a rug over carpet goes in and out of fashion, but one thing that never is unfashionable is coziness. And laying a rug on carpet is one shortcut to coziness!
There Are Many Reasons to Layer an Area Rug Over Carpet
You don’t need a particular reason to lay a rug over carpet. But, of course, there are tons of reasons you might want to. Here are a few!
It’s a Way to Replace a Carpet Without Removing it
Do you have a nasty, old carpet that you hate, but removing and replacing it would be too much money or work? We get it. The cost to replace carpet with hardwood can sometimes be prohibitive. The materials alone can be pricey, and then you’ll need to hire a professional if you don’t know how to replace flooring. Or perhaps you rent and don’t like the existing carpet but can’t do anything about it.
Here’s your perfect solution! A fun area rug or two can go right over that old carpet and really spruce up the joint. That way, you can save money while still creating the look you prefer.
If you have hardwood floors in a large multi-function room, you can use rugs to divide up that space. This approach works whether you have the best engineered wood flooring in the world or a beaten-up old pine floor. And just because you have carpet in that space (rather than hardwood) doesn’t mean you need to change this approach!
Using area rugs is an excellent and effective way to create separate areas within a larger room. And the beauty is that the rugs are adjustable, so you can always play with how you lay out the space. Think of it as another type of do-it-yourself flooring.
You Can Even Play With Design Elements By Layering
You can create a totally unique look not found anywhere else when you layer an area rug over carpet. In addition, you can create your own combinations, bringing a specific style to the room that isn’t likely to be replicated anywhere else.
If you want to add some intensity to your living area, experiment by layering a couple of rugs together on top of the carpet. The nice thing with experimentation is that nothing is permanent; you can easily move the rugs and try a different combination or formation.
Plus, You Can Hide Floor Damage When You Put a Rug on Carpet
What do you do when you have a massive stain or tear in the middle of your carpet? Most of the time, you have no choice but to replace the entire thing. That’s a hassle, to say the least. It’s a shame to remove the whole carpet if the rest of it is in good shape.
If your carpet doesn’t have the same stain resistance as a Proximity Mills carpet or a Lees carpet, and you’ve ended up with an unsightly spot or two, you should toss down a nice rug to hide your stain. You may be surprised how much you like the new look!
And Add Some Bonus Coziness, Too
“I hate feeling cozy and soft,” said no one ever. Multiple layers of rug and carpet don’t just look cozy; they feel cozy. Most types of carpet are already relaxing and inviting; this just increases that feeling.
The floor will be extra warm in winter, and there’s nothing as lovely as stepping on to such extreme softness.
And It Can EvenPreserve the Life of Your Carpet!
Carpet isn’t the easiest flooring to install—and it’s not the cheapest, either. You probably made a considerable investment when you chose your new carpet. You know it won’t last forever, of course, but you also want to make sure it lasts as long as possible.
If you lay a rug on carpet, you can help preserve the life of that carpet. Place the rugs over high traffic areas, where the carpet is most likely to become worn down and dirty. And since rugs are so easy to move around, you can always take the rugs away if you have company you’d like to impress.
A Quick Environmental Note
If you’re considering using rugs as a way to bide your time until you can replace your carpet, why not start thinking about some environmentally friendly flooring replacements? By cutting out carpets with harmful chemicals and off-gassing, you can create a healthier environment for your family.
That doesn’t mean that you need to forgo carpet altogether! There are many low-VOC carpet options on the market, from high-quality wool blends from Doma to budget options like Tigressa.
Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s low-VOC flooring. Your health will thank you!
How to Prevent Wrinkles When You Put a Rug on Carpet
That said, if you don’t take appropriate precautions when you lay an area rug over carpet, you run the risk of the rug getting bunched up. It can become a safety hazard and it looks unsightly!
Area rugs shift as you walk on them, but having carpet underneath causes friction, so the entire rug can’t slide as it would if it were on most types of wood flooring. Instead, only one part of the rug moves, causing a bump or a wrinkle.
Since the rug isn’t likely to stay put on its own, there are a few tricks you can use to keep the rug safely in its place.
Use Anchors When You Layer Your Area Rug Over Carpet
Make your furniture work for you! You can use your sofa to weigh down one section of a rug, for example. And hopefully, your furniture is too heavy to move along with the rug.
Depending on your room arrangement, you can aim for all four corners of the rug to have a furniture anchor. At the very least, try to have something significant on either end of the rug.
Use Non-Slip Pads
Non-slip pads are frequently necessary when putting rugs on hard surfaces; they’re just as helpful in layering a rug over carpet. In fact, some pads are specifically made for putting an area rug over carpet.
When you use pads to hold your rug in place, they may also help keep your carpet safe from friction damage caused when the rug repeatedly slides around.
Can Area Rugs Cause Damage to a Carpet?
Most area rugs don’t damage a carpet irreparably. They may flatten the carpet fibers, but you can usually revive those once you remove the carpet. They may also cause a bit of fraying on the ends of the fibers if they continually slide around.
However, you need to be wary of rugs with rubber backings. The rubber can cause damage to your carpet because a preservative in the rubber material emits a gas, which becomes trapped between the carpet and the rug. This gas will, over time, cause the carpet’s color to fade.
Avoid rubber-backed rugs where you can. If you still want to use a particular rug with rubber, move the rug frequently so your carpet can breathe.
How Do I Clean a Rug on Carpet?
You can clean your rug over your carpet the same way you would clean a rug over a hardwood floor! Vacuum the rug routinely, and give it a good steam cleaning when needed.
It’s essential to maintain your rugs to keep them in good shape. If you clean them regularly, you can extend their life.
Keep The Following Factors in Mind When Deciding to Layer a Rug Over Carpet
So, now that you know it’s acceptable to put an area rug over carpet, you’ll want to make sure that you do it in a natural way that makes it look like it truly belongs there. Otherwise, you run the risk of ending up with a jumbled, chaotic look.
Layering a rug over carpet requires more thought and planning than just putting a rug on a wood floor. To use your area rugs most effectively, look at a few flooring ideas on Google or Pinterest. You can’t just lay down a rug simply because you like it; it needs to work with its environment.
Here are some helpful tips on how to do just that!
Don’t Clash Textures
You should aim to create a contrast wherever you can, including between your rug and carpet. The textures between the two should vary. So, for example, if you mostly have low-pile types of carpet in your home, think about adding a thick, plush area rug over that carpet. On the other hand, if your carpet is plush, go for a rug with a shorter pile or a woven rug.
This arrangement works best if the carpet is low-pile or loop pile; definitely avoid putting a rug over a shag carpet. The long length of the fibers will overwhelm the rug and make it appear buried.
A low-profile rug and carpet would work fine together, but a contrast creates a more exciting look. Consider fibers that add more nuance and depth like wool, especially if your carpet is nylon or polyester.
Take in Your Entire Color Palette
Unfortunately, you can’t do anything about the color of the existing carpet, so you’ll have to work with it (even if you aren’t overly fond of it). To that end, consider colors that complement it.
There are several ways you can play with color. Consult the decorator’s best friend—the color wheel—to play with all your options! You can opt for a monochrome look, adding a rug that’s the same color but perhaps a shade or two darker. For more variety in your palette, add a contrasting color.
Your choice of color should depend on how you want to style your decor. Don’t forget to consider the rest of the room; it should also influence your color choice. The color of your sofa, walls, and curtains should all play off of each other, and you can use your rug to either warm up or cool down a room.
Only Put the Correct Size Area Rug Over Your Carpet
If you put the wrong size area rug over your carpet, it won’t look like it naturally belongs there. For example, a too-small rug will feel unanchored and random. People will wonder why a random rug is drifting on your floor.
A rug on carpet works best if it fits your furniture’s layout. Consider the scale of your room and your chosen space. If needed, a couple of smaller rugs side by side will work to fill out a larger space.
Keep Patterns Simple
Less is more, so keep it simple when it comes to patterns. If your carpet already has a bold design, your rug should be a solid color. And conversely, your rug should have a pattern if your carpet is plain. A print will add a bit of interest and variety to your space. Remember that all the colors in the pattern help tie your room together.
That said, you should only have one pattern at a time; anything more will overwhelm your brain.
What Are Some Good Places to Put a Rug on Top of Carpet?
You could place an area rug over carpet nearly anywhere in your home. Some places make more sense than others, though. It’s important to make sure your rug placement looks purposeful, not random.
Unless you need to place a rug over your carpet to cover up damage, you’ll be free to experiment with any placement that adds greater visual interest to your room. Here are a few placement ideas to get you started.
If you have a fireplace in your living room, you already know its central focus. A fireplace draws the eye, so it only makes sense to dress it up slightly. Fires bring about a feeling of comfort and relaxation; why not lean into that coziness a bit by making the area right in front of it even softer?
You can also place your rug in the middle of the room—the rug will define the space. It creates a gathering space, inviting people to hang out, socialize, or connect. The extra softness within this space creates a sense of comfort and safety.
The question of whether to put carpet or hardwood in bedrooms is an age-old debate. If carpet won the day in your bedroom, you might be feeling a bit stuck in a rut, style-wise. Spice things up in the bedroom…by layering rugs over carpet!
Waking up is hard to do; actually, getting out of bed is even more challenging. So why not make your first contact with the floor a little less harsh by adding an extra rug underneath?
Another natural location for a rug in the bedroom is at the foot of your bed. This acts similarly to placing a rug in the center of your living room; it softens the entire space and adds another layer of interest.
Not sure which way to go? Why not compromise between the above options and place a large rug halfway under your bed. Then, you will have some of it peeking out on the sides and at the foot, balancing the entire room.
Give yourself some comfort and eye candy with a soft rug at your feet in your office space. Run your bare toes through the softness under your desk while you are toiling away. Don’t you already feel less stressed just thinking about it?
Layering a large rug over carpet in your dining room is a fantastic way to define your space. Placing it under your dining table anchors the area, making it a more inviting space to sit.
Also, a rug is easier to clean or replace if it gets stained because you dropped a meatball. Your carpet can’t take too many food accidents before it’s destroyed.
Just About Anywhere Else
Think of it this way. Just because the best flooring for kitchens is never carpet (we hope), it doesn’t mean that your kitchen has to be cold and hard! You can always add an area rug to soften the space—and the same is true for other areas you might not think about.
Some of the best flooring for basements is nylon carpet. Want to soften it even further? Add a rug! Is the best flooring for dogs not quite the best flooring for comfort? Add a rug! Many types of carpet aren’t particularly cozy, even if they are warm (we’re thinking super-low pile carpets built for traffic here). Putting an area rug over your carpet is always a good solution!
Conclusion: For a Unique Twist on Plush Flooring, You Can Absolutely Put a Rug on Carpet!
It’s no secret; we think carpet is one of the best flooring choices for a cozy home. So naturally, layering a rug over that carpet is twice the treat! Have we talked you into it yet?
Whether you need to cover up damage, make a large space feel smaller, or simply like the look, don’t be afraid to experiment with rugs. Your carpet may thank you for it.
Courtney is a freelance writer who wears many other hats: kindergarten teacher by day, Broadway diva in the shower. She is a transplant Hoosier who originated in New England. When she isn't writing in her spare time, you will find her reading history books, arguing with her latest knitting project, or being beaten by her kids at most games.
This post may contain references or links to products from one or more partners of our parent company and/or subsidiaries of our parent company. For more information, visit this page. Updated 9/20/23 Want to give your laundry room an upgrade and looking for the best laundry room flooring? You’re in the right place! Laundry rooms see […]
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