Layering Rugs Over Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Do you want to lay a rug over wall-to-wall carpet to add some color and interest to your furniture setting? What factors should you keep in mind as you consider this option? Take the time to consider these points in light of the existing conditions.

First, think about the existing carpet. Preferably, it should be a simple, firm, low-pile, non-patterned or very slightly patterned, primarily neutral carpet. Here are a few issues that are fundamental to the decision.

  1. Any potential clash of color and pattern between the rug and carpet creates a major design question.
  2. Any kind of higher pile or shag carpet is probably not going to be a good candidate for two reasons.First, the uneven appearance of the rug as it lays on the carpet with variable support across the higher pile creates an unfinished look. Second, depending on any lack of or uneven support under the rug provided by the carpet, a potential danger is created for those walking on the rug, particularly visitors not used to the condition.
  3. Use rugs in this kind of case to define one or more furniture groupings in a carpeted room, such as a TV area or a sitting area. Unless you have a disaster that you are trying to hide, covering too much of the room with a large rug may burden the appearance of the overall space.

Two additional cautionary notes are also worth considering here. First, placing a very heavy piece of furniture on a rug that has less than firm support can result in stretching of the cotton backing on a tufted or woven rug -- or stretching of the rug itself in certain other cases. This may result in a permanent distortion or cupping of the rug. Recently, we saw a case where the legs of an extremely heavy, large wooden box that had been converted into a coffee table were stretching and cupping the backing of a tufted rug as it lay on a softer carpet. As a result, the owner was unhappy and thought that something was wrong with the rug. 

A second cautionary note -- rugs can shift when used over carpet. Heavier rugs will perform better in this regard, but there are rug pads available on the market designed for use with rugs over carpet.

Adding an area rug with color and pattern over plain subtle carpet will allow you to play with your fun side and add interest to your floor and overall décor. Careful planning can help you pull this off with very satisfying results to yield a much livelier space.