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Ideas for Decorating with Area Rugs on Hardwood Floors

Ideas for Decorating with Area Rugs on Hardwood Floors

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Area rugs are great elements to decorate your home. They do however serve other purposes as well. One of them is to protect hardwood floors from heavy foot traffic that might cause scratches to the floor.

In addition, area rugs are also used as another layer of insulation for both cold temperatures and sound. Their rich texture and valuable technical help make them the perfect addition to hardwood floors!

How to Choose Area Rugs for Hardwood Floors


When it comes to the duo area rug-hardwood floors, it is important to realize that it is the floors that have dominance over the design of the rug. The floors are the unchangeable element in this equation.

As a result, the rug needs to accentuate every visual element of the floor. After all, you want your area rug and your hardwood floors to match and complement one another perfectly for a well-designed interior.

If you find yourself in a bit of a struggle when it comes to picking the right area rug for your floors, here are some steps you can take to make the process easier.

Step 1: Consider the Color of the Wooden Floors


The first thing to take into consideration when picking an area rug for your hardwood floors is the actual color of the wood. Since rugs come in a variety of shades, colors, motifs, patterns, and textures, it is important for all these elements to emphasize the color of the wood.

Hardwood floors come in a variety of colors and shades too. They are usually made of oak, bamboo, acacia or other types of high-quality wood. Their color, however, comes as a result of a staining process. These can be grouped into three categories: light, dark and red.

Each shade can be matched with a certain type of rug. Here are some suggestions for you.

Light Hardwood Floors

Light hardwood floors are great selections for anyone who wants to have a calming and faint decor that does not overwhelm the rest of the house. They are charming and elegant, however, they do have some drawbacks.

Usually, light hardwood floors will show dust and dirt more easily than other shades which is why using a large area rug is a great solution (see our rug sizes guide for ideas). A large area rug will not only look good on the space but also allow glimpses of the floor to peak through and create a multilayered design.


In terms of color, there are two directions you can go with light hardwood floors. One way is to experiment with a bold and dark color to create some contrast and make the rug a prominent feature. This method will make the room look more charming and inviting.


The other solution is to choose a natural shade that matches the palette of the floor. Go for a subtle decor that allows the furniture and other elements in the room to be in charge. As a result, you can opt for Jute rugs, Oriental rugs such as Ikat or Kilims, or even bamboo rugs on light hardwood floors.

Thin cotton rugs are also great choices for light hardwood floors as this color mostly evokes a summery and warm weather atmosphere. Lastly, light hardwood floors are great backgrounds for heavily patterned rugs.

Dark Hardwood Floors


Dark hardwood floors display rich and powerful colors in a room, in addition to the natural texture of the wood. Therefore decorating them with area rugs requires careful attention so that the natural beauty of the wood is not ignored.

As a result, dark hardwood floors go well with natural shades such as a tan or a brown that complement the shade of the wood. Other colors that go well with dark hardwood floors include beige, gray, light blue, pastel colors, and white.

In addition, rugs without patterns or heavy textures are a better choice. They allow the floor to be the most important feature in the room and make the entire space look balanced as well as calming.

Typically, a sandy-colored rug will match dark hardwood floors perfectly. Green rugs are also great choices for dark hardwood floors as they make the room feel closer to nature and create a tranquil atmosphere.

Darker floors are typical of colder climates which is why thick rugs can be used in this case. A thick woolen rug or a flokati is a great option. The materials from these rugs will be accentuated by the dark background.

Red Hardwood Floors


Red hardwood floors are very special floors with a warm yet chic feeling to them. They go particularly well with traditional red-ish Persian rugs. The clash between the different shades of red creates a wonderfully warm environment with a unique character.

Step 2: Take Into Account the Room You Will Decorate With an Area Rug

Different rooms experience different types of foot traffic and usage. This is why each room requires its own style and rug as well. Here are some examples of what goes where!

Rugs for Hardwood Floors in the Living Room


This large and luxurious living room has a dark oak hardwood floor, with beautiful details of wide wood planks that make the room seem more contemporary. The size of the living room is accentuated by the large area rug placed in the middle.

The rug is a cream-colored thin cotton rug positioned underneath the furniture, thus protecting the wood from possible scratches. It covers most of the walkable area around the furniture but still allows the floor to be exposed.

The diamonds of the rug are perfectly matched with the wooden planks of the floor. They create a multilayered design that brings eccentricity to the room.

Learn how to place an area rug in an open floor plan.

Rugs for Hardwood Floors in Kitchen


The kitchen is one of the most used spaces in a home. It is also one of the spaces where hardwood floors are really challenged by stains, water or scratches. As a result, they require the proper rug to maintain them.

In this case, a Jute runner rug has been chosen to go over light hardwood floors. Jute rugs are easy to clean. In addition, they are made of natural materials that allow the hardwood floors to be properly ventilated.

This rug also creates a link between the natural and pale color of the floor and the dark color of the cabinets. It brings both elements together through its patterns and textures. All in all, it is a great element to add depth to the room.

Rugs for Hardwood Floors in the Hallway


Hallway floors are always the first ones to experience scratches. As a result, they require a layer of protection that is best achieved through an area rug.

In this case, the rug has a considerable size and is positioned closer to the door to protect the floor from outside dangers such as dirt and water. It features a beautiful Oriental design that matches the shades of the floor and looks like it was made to go on those planks.

In addition, it makes the space look properly dressed and complete. With this rug, what we see is no longer just a hallway, but a curated room in the house!

Rugs for Hardwood Floors in Bedroom


This chic bedroom utilizes a white rug on dark hardwood floors. The rug brings together the rest of the bold colors in the room.

It is also accentuated by the dark color of the floor that makes it more prominent. This is an elegant design that compliments the entire decor of the room.

Rugs for Hardwood Floors in the Dining Room


Dining rooms have similar characteristics and requirements as kitchens when it comes to area rugs. They need to protect the floors from scratches caused by the chair movements as well as food stains.

This living room uses a large and casual area rug on dark hardwood floors. The contrasting colors add a level of charm to the space. The dark colors of the patterns of the rug match the chairs perfectly.

Best Area Rugs for Hardwood Floors


Here are some last bits of advice for you to choose the best area rug for your hardwood floors:

  • Make sure to pay attention to the material of the rug. A natural rug such as cotton or wool is the best choice for hardwood floors. Natural backed rugs allow the planks to breathe and be more durable. These include Jute, sisal rugs, coir, and seagrass.
  • Wool rugs are some of the most comfortable rugs to be used on hardwood floors. These are durable and soft rugs that go well with all floor colors.
  • Silk rugs are very good options for hardwood floors as well. These are expensive pieces of textiles that look utterly attractive on wooden floors.
  • Cotton rugs are interesting choices for hardwood floors. They give them a playful and casual look.
  • Make sure to use rug pads to protect the floors and yourself! Rugs can slip when placed on wooden floors and be dangerous to you. In addition, rug pads can also protect the floor against moisture, stains, and spills.
  • If you are using patterned rugs on hardwood floors, make sure to place the rug perpendicular to the wood grain.
  • Blue rugs work quite well with light-colored hardwood floors in the living room, bedroom or dining room.
  • Kilim rugs look charming on dark hardwood floors.


Should you put area rugs on hardwood floors?

Yes! Apart from the obvious charming visual element that area rugs bring to hardwood floors, they are also useful and functional elements. Area rugs protect hardwood floors from scratches when used underneath furniture such as couches, chairs or tables. In addition, they protect the floors from heavy foot traffic such as in hallways and living rooms. They guarantee the longevity of your hardwood floors.

Are rubber backed rugs bad for hardwood floors?

Hardwood floors are very susceptible to staining and stripping, especially when it comes to rubber pads. Cheap and low-quality rubber backed rugs can, in fact, damage your hardwood floors. The quality of the material is important when it comes to preserving hardwood floors. Plastic rubber pads are usually very hard on the floors and can cause damage to the finish of the wood. The best options for hardwood rugs are natural rubber pads, 100% recycled felt as well as a combination between felt and natural rubber backed rugs.

When can you put area rugs on new hardwood floors?

New hardwood floors require more time to look and feel complete in order for you to use them normally on a daily basis. Therefore, the advised time to wait before you place an area rug on them is a month or 4 weeks. This will allow the new hardwood floors enough time to cure.

Is it OK to use latex backed rugs on hardwood floors?

Latex backed rugs prevent hardwood floors from “breathing”. This can cause great damage to the finish of the floor which is why it is not advised to use latex backed rugs on hardwood floors. Natural backing options for area rugs are better choices when you have pristine hardwood floors you want to preserve at home.