Carpet or Rug? Designers Explain How Their Preference to Bring Softness to Your Home Right Now

Choosing between wall-to-wall carpet and a rug to offer a much needed softening touch can be a tricky task. We asked experts for the pros and cons to find out which best suits your space

a living room with carpet and a rug on top
(Image credit: David Duncan Livingstone. Design: AMB Design)

When renovating a room or a single floor or even an entire house, it’s wise to consider the flow throughout the spaces before making any rash decisions on floor coverings. With softness underfoot, you'll find spaces like living rooms and bedrooms uncomfortable to be in, to say the least — but there's a decision to make between hard flooring with a rug vs carpet.

The options depend on a few factors and can drastically change the feel of a space and you may even end up opting for layers of both carpet and rugs to hit the spot. Understanding the pros and cons in this part of your home's interior design, from aesthetics to practicality, will help you make the right decision. We asked the experts to lay out what you need to know.

What ae the pros and cons of carpet

A living room with stripes on carpet

(Image credit: David Duncan Livingston. Design: AMB Design Inc)

A carpet is without a doubt a lovely addition to a space, whether it’s a room to relax or run through entrance halls. Wall-to-wall carpet will provide a satisfying layer of tactility and welcoming warmth while offering a pleasant underfoot experience. Carpets nowadays tend to be much more hardwearing yet can be difficult to maintain due to the size and the fact that they are immovable. The other issue comes in when it comes to furniture placement and regularly open and closed doors. Although it’s comfortable underfoot, gradually where carpet is walked on, created friction upon, or heavy furniture is placed, signs of wear and tear will start to appear and areas may begin to flatten. Depending on the makeup of the material and the type of pile, some show much more quickly and obviously than others. A low woven carpet is known to be one of the most high quality and hardwearing and there’s still plenty of choice for the design.

‘Carpet can often be a more budget friendly option, yet my go to is a rug’, designer Patti Allen, co-owner of Allen and James Home says, because of larger the surface area is covered, the less quality is needed, and the option to layer up a carpet with interchangeable rugs is more appropriate. It may be worth thinking of a carpet as a base in which you build upon to create statements and style, in this case.

What are the pros and cons of rugs?

A big bed dressed in pink and white gingham bedding in a farmhouse style light pink bedroom

(Image credit: Piglet in Bed)

Bedroom and living room rugs are generally made from softer materials than carpets, yet they usually still hold a serious amount of weight within them. They can be heavenly soft underfoot, allowing you to glide over them as they provide a tasteful floor covering contributing even more style to a space.

Patti says when she meets with her clients, they go over the desired feel of the space and the realistic price point. ‘Most of the time I prefer rugs, I find that there is more opportunity to provide a custom look with a rug,' she says.

There does seem to be a lot more flexibility offered by a rug than by a carpet, ’For example: broad loom bound rugs can be cut to any custom size and hand knotted rugs come in many specific sizes and colorways that can fit many aesthetics.’ They can also be easily swapped out to completely change a space. ‘I have personally found that you have more “creative freedom” with rugs over carpets. I love having the endless options of style and sizes.’ However, much like carpet, fibers can break down over time with general living and this can cause bulges, flattening, discoloration as well as fraying edges; all costly repairs and something to take into consideration.

Choosing and combining

When it comes to making the floor covering decision, taking into account the above may help steer you in the right direction, but don’t forget to layer where possible.

A rug of a certain size over the top of carpet or even combining rugs, in specific areas can deliver a sense of home and comfort bringing that finishing touch to a space.

Portia Carroll

Portia Carroll is an interior stylist, writer, and design consultant. With a background in interior architecture and design, she has a plethora of creative experience in the industry working with high end interior brands to capture beautiful spaces and products and enhance their qualities.