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How to Match Area Rugs and Runners

How to Match Area Rugs and Runners

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Rugs come in a variety of formats and can be used in certain spaces for different purposes. They display a beautiful palette of colors, motifs, and styles, but also dimensions.

Some rugs are used as area rugs to cover large surfaces of the floor and provide warmth and personality to the entire room. Other rugs are used as pieces of art to create a unique wall decor.

Smaller, narrow rugs are also available to bring life to smaller areas of the house such as toilets or hallways. These are known as runner rugs.


All of the rugs mentioned above can be matched together to create a more complete look for your home. When doing so, you have to keep in mind the golden rule of rug hierarchy: The Area Rug always comes first. You may want to our Ultimate Guide on Area Rug Placement.

This means that any smaller rug you choose to add to a certain space, where the area rug is in sight, should complement the largest rug in the house. It should never ignore or undermine it. This is actually a great way to start designing as it helps you pull styles, colors, and motifs when choosing complementary runner rugs for your home.

What Is a Runner Rug?


Runner rugs are quite popular in the interior design world. They are long and narrow pieces of textile, usually in a rectangular shape. However, you can also find them as oval rugs or other playful shapes, such as sheepskin rugs.

They are called runner rugs because, despite their shape, the length of the rug is always much longer than its width. Runner rugs are usually placed in narrow pathways. These include staircases, hallways, house entrances, kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms and more.

Why Use a Runner Rug?

These rugs serve different purposes in a home. They can bring warmth and charm to entryways and long hallways, by making them more approachable and inviting. They also provide comfort in areas that you would not have thought you needed a soft piece of textile to walk on, such as in front of a toilet sink when your feet get cold.


In addition, runner rugs are also used as a visual way to soften the harsh lines of kitchen cabinets where you walk throughout the day. They add personality to those small spaces, in a quick and easy way.

Runners are also great additions to the bedroom, especially if you want to create a comfortable and warm landing for your feet in the morning. Furthermore, they can be used in small spaces where the area rug does not provide coverage and define this space with its own character and identity, always trying not to undermine the area rug in terms of patterns and colors.

Differently from area rugs, however, runners are primarily purchased for their function and flexibility. They provide coverage of small spaces allowing for better walkability, in addition to protecting hardwood flooring from heavy traffic.

Last but not least, runners are accent pieces that complement the area rug rather than become focal pieces of decor. They do, however, add a splash of color and character to even the smallest of pathways in the house.

Matching Runners to Area Rugs

Combining your runner rug to your area rug is a fun process since you can find these smaller pieces of textiles in any pattern, shape or material you like. Before you start, however, keep in mind that matching everything to the letter does not work for rugs.

Consider your rugs as decor and artwork. You can never have the same painting in different formats, which means runners and rugs need to match but not copy one another. Allow each piece to maintain its uniqueness.

Here are a few guidelines you can follow to boost your self-esteem in picking runner rugs and help you create a cool and charming match for your interior.


Make sure to find the right character of runner rugs that matches the character of your area rug. You can pick between formal and informal. Generally, if you have a luxurious Oriental rug, they can best be paired with a formal runner rug that displays similar colors and textures, but not the exact same.

If you have a more informal area rug such as an Ikat rug or a shabby bohemian rug, you can opt for an informal runner as well. This could be a thin bamboo rug or a thin woven rug, either cotton, wool or a harsh material, to complement the style of the area rug.


You can use color to create a softer ambiance in a room with a runner rug. This is particularly important in cold rooms of the house such as kitchens or bathrooms. However, make sure the color sprouts from the color of the area rug in sight.

Do not copy the exact shade or hue. As long as it is something similar that matches the area rug is fine. For instance, the area rug could be navy blue with gold and burgundy motifs. Then you can have some runners in shades of burgundy and gold to complement the area rug.


You want your runners to become their own focal point in the area where they are placed, but not create a visual disturbance by overwhelming the area rug in sight. Therefore, in terms of patterns, you can opt to have the same pattern but on a smaller scale on the runner, or go with a completely different pattern, however in the same style.

What this means is that if your area rug features floral motifs, you can opt for a more organic pattern on the runner. This works best if your house has a more vintage or classic feel to it. If your area rug has clean geometric patterns, your runner can have lines, shapes or other geometrical forms. This will give your home a modern and contemporary look.

General tips

  • Make sure to be safe. Because of their small scale, runner rugs can often slide, which is why you should add a non-slip rug pad to prevent the rug from moving.
  • Go for a soft and plush runner rug in the bedroom, combined with a thick area rug underneath the bed.
  • Find a lower-pile runner rug for the kitchen that is easy to clean and combine that with a thin Kilim rug for a more mature look.
  • Whether the runner rug is used in the same space or used to create a visual separation between an open plan, make sure they match the area rug in plain sight.
  • Consider the colors of the entire home including walls and furniture, before picking a runner.
  • Go for a striped runner to make your hallway look bigger.
  • Mix and match textures but allow for coherence and balance. If the area rug is too heavy with motifs then go for a solid color runner.
  • Always define a link between the area rug and the adjacent runners, whether it is a color, a pattern or a texture, make sure at least one of them is replicated in one way or another.
  • Remember the rule of three: no more than three colors, patterns or materials in the same space.

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Area Rug and Runner Combinations


You can use runner rugs in the kitchen not only to keep your feet warm when moving back and forth between cabinets but also to add a vibrant personality to the space. Kitchen cabinets usually lack color or charm, which runner rugs can inject in the space.


In this decor, the classic looking dark kitchen is accentuated by the placement of a red and bold Oriental rug and adjacent smaller runners showcasing the same character. The runners display different motifs, however, maintaining the same style, fabric, and color scheme.

The rug choices create a cohesive story and match perfectly the classic and somewhat vintage look of the kitchen. They do add texture, personality, and depth to an otherwise plain and gloomy interior design. This is a wonderful way to brighter up a dark kitchen and make it more inviting.


Adding an area rug to the bedroom is a great choice. However, sometimes the bedroom is bigger than the rug and some surfaces are left uncovered. This is where runner rugs come to the rescue.


A plush and full runner rug is the perfect choice for your feet in the morning, as it makes you start the day in a soft and comfortable manner. This design displays quite an interesting combination.

It has created the perfect balance between old and new, combining both an Oriental area rug on a beige large rug that peaks through underneath it. This matches perfectly with the color of the runner, a playful and inviting sheepskin rug, great to snuggle your feet in those cold winter mornings.

The entire style of the room makes you think of a relaxing place where you can unwind and wake up feeling refreshed.

Experimenting with different materials but keeping the colors plain to accentuate the area rug is a great way to upgrade your bedroom’s design.

Living room

You can use runner rugs to create a more dramatic look for your living room. This is the case with this charming and colorful interior. Both rugs display features of Oriental rugs that match each other through the patterns and motifs. However, the colors used are completely different, yet not out of place.


In this case, the bold color choices are intentional. The area rug and runner rug create a beautiful composition of warmth, creative personality, and dramatic character by matching not only one another but also the surrounding decor of exotic plants.

This living room displays the free-spirited character of its occupants showing that you can dare to be bold and unapologetic with colors, as long as patterns match.

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