The right area rug can help define spaces that are open to one another.

Q: I have laminate wood floors throughout my small condo and would like to add an area rug to the living room, which is 10 by 14 feet. What size should I choose and what style won’t make it feel cramped? – T. Fulham, Winnipeg

A. Area rugs not only help to link living room furnishings together, but to define spaces that are open to one another as well.

The biggest mistakes people make when choosing an area rug is that they buy the wrong size (often too small), and they choose a look that doesn’t belong with anything else in the room.

The simplest way to determine the right sized area rug in a living area is to measure the width of the room then subtract two or three feet; this will give you the width of the rug needed. For instance, if your room is 10-feet wide you will need an eight-foot wide rug.

Area rugs come in predetermined sizes; an eight-foot wide rug will be about 10-feet long. That is the size that suits your living area.

Best style of carpet
If you have printed fabrics on your furnishings or draperies then go with a discretely patterned or solid-coloured rug.

If furnishings are upholstered in plain fabrics, then a patterned rug can help add pizzazz to the overall decor scheme.

Another idea is to  take inspiration from artwork that you might have collected. For example, if you like watercolour paintings, then choose a rug that has soft, airy colours and patterns. If you collect black-and-white photography, then a solid, neutral-coloured rug will work nicely in the room.

If your room is feeling cramped with furnishings, then choose a colour of rug that is very similar to the colour of the wood flooring; this will give you the cosiness of the rug but visually will not chop up the space by adding yet another element.

How much to spend
An eight-by-10 foot area rug can cost from $200 to $5,000, depending on the quality. I always suggest spending  between one to two times the price of the sofa. It’s an easy way to gage the quality and value needed so the rug works with the rest of the room.

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