Sometimes, it feels good to be independant: to get out there in the world with zero expertise making own decisions and taking actions based on instinct and intuition alone. But buying a rug is not one of those times.

When it comes to investing in this key piece for your home—whatever room it’s for—we highly recommend seeking expert advice. So we reached out to two of the best in the business: Denise Ashmore, principal of Project 22, and Gillian Segal, principal of Gillian Segal Design, to lay down their area-rug wisdom.

a chic modern home in vancouver living room denise ashmore designer
All of the furniture sits fully on top of the rug in this Project 22-designed living room.

How do I decide on the right size and shape of a rug?

Segal recommends going big. “In terms of size, always err the size larger vs. smaller,” she notes. “Nothing looks worse than an under-scaled area rug. In terms of shape, I like the architecture of the room to help define this.” For instance, if there are curved walls, consider incorporating a curved rug.

Ashmore recommends measuring your sofa and furniture before you go rug shopping. “For size, I like to make sure the front legs of the sofa fit on it,” she advises. “The rug should extend beyond the length of the sofa so that side tables can be included in the furniture grouping.” Howvever, oddly shaped rooms might call for some creative choices: for instance, a round rug or non-symmetrical design.

gillian segal designed living room with grey fireplace and rug
The usage of a room will determine what a good material choice is for your rug, as in this Gillian Segal-designed space.

What materials should I avoid when shopping for a rug?

Segal suggests there’s no hard and fast rule. “I wouldn’t say avoid anything, as there’s a time and place for every material, but it’s important to know about the materials and if they will suit your needs,” says Segal. Many of her clients have gravitated towards viscose rugs which have the beautiful lustre of silk, without the big price tag, but Segal always warns that viscose is best for low-traffic areas: “Viscose and stains do not do well together,” she laughs. (Ashmore agrees: “Viscose doesn’t like to get wet.”)

Your material selection should ultimately be tied to your lifestyle and how you use a space. In a dining room, you may want to consider something that can withstand lots of spills, while in your principal bedroom, you may be able to get away with something much less practical, like a cream silk rug. “Family media rooms should have rugs that are stain resistant and cozy to sit on,” notes Ashmore. “This is a place that people will be distracted and you don’t want to worry about spills.”

project 22 townhouse renovation
The seating and coffee table all sit together on the rectangular area rug in this Project 22 home.

How do you lay out furniture on a rug?

When it comes to laying out your furniture in a room with a rug, you do have options: either tuck the rug under just the front legs of the furniture, or have the full item on the rug. But Segal notes that, whichever you pick, it’s important to commit “Either have all legs on or all perimeter pieces half on half off,” she says.

Ashmore notes that beyond fitting your sofa, lounge chairs and accompanying ottomans should also rest on the carpet entirely.

Do I need an underlay for my rug?

Yes. Yes you do. “Don’t forget about the underlay!” warns Segal. “It helps prevent slipping and can enhance the comfort and feel of the rug.”

Modern white bedroom
The bed is positioned on the rug with a foot of space on either side in this Gillian Segal-designed bedroom.

How much should I spend on my rug?

There are a lot of cheap options out there, but ultimately, investing in something high-quality will pay off in the long run—for your family, and the planet. “Get the best quality you can afford,” says Ashmore. “It will pay you back in longevity. What’s more environmental than non-disposable?”