A Guide To Sample Size Rugs

MSR4548A from Martha Stewart Wool Tufted .625 by Safavieh

Before you invest in a long-lasting, high-quality rug, you want to make sure you actually know what the rug will look like in person. Just because you are going to order your rug online doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the convenience of seeing the texture, material, and colors of your rug before going in on a big rug purchase. Sample size rugs are the secret to rug shopping success. If you are ready to tie that room together with a bold rug, you’ll first want to see it, feel it, and envision it with a sample size version of the real thing. The best way to really know what you like and don’t like is to try sample size rugs in a similar way that you would compare paint or flooring samples.

When deciding which sample size rugs to order, think about your style preferences when it comes to shape and color, your material preferences as far as durability and practicality, and think about your safe rug options as well as your risky rug options. What in the world does that mean? Basically, think about what kind of rugs you know would fit in your home comfortably and what rugs would be an exotic statement. If there is ever a time to go bold, try it with a sample size rug first before purchasing a larger version of the rug.


TSE-1019 from Tessera by Surya

Easily one of the most important reasons to get a sample size rug, you just never quite know what the color of a rug will be until you see it in person. While the photo online may look great, there is truly no comparison for seeing a rug’s color in person to truly capture the vibrancy and tone of each hue. This is equally important when it comes to bright colors as it is with neutrals.

With neutral colors, you are likely trying to match the rug to other items in the room, such as throw pillows, wood furniture, couch fabric, or the color of the curtains. While one site may think grey is a silver, subdued hue, another site may think grey is darker like charcoal. The same rule applies to more colorful rugs. A photo may show an aqua rug, but you won’t know for sure whether the blue is brighter or leaning more toward teal until you actually see the color in person.


BZ-05 from Bryce by Loloi

When playing with sample size rugs, now is the best time to vary your rug shape options. You have some obvious choices, like round or rectangular, but you also have options like runners, square, oval, and even octagon-shaped rugs. Don’t limit yourself to just the traditional and expected rectangular rug. Determine what the focal point of your room will be, whether it is a piece of statement furniture, a bold piece of artwork, or whether it will be the rug.

The shape of the rug has a lot to do with whether it is meant to blend in with the furniture or stand out and make a statement. When you order a sample size rug, you may not always get to visualize the exact shape of your rug, but you will get a much better idea when you’re holding a piece of the rug material in your hands. Having this clarity with the material, color, and texture, will help you when you do decide to go with more of a statement shape.


Arlette from Almaz by NuLoom

Durability is another important factor to consider when purchasing a rug. Think about how much foot traffic your new rug will undergo. If your rug is in a high-traffic area, you will want to stick with a synthetic blend like nylon or polypropylene, or a strong, natural fiber like wool. Overall, natural fiber rugs will have anti-soiling properties that will help naturally protect your rug from dirt or debris.

In order to get a good feel for which of these high-traffic rug materials you prefer, you’re best off ordering some sample size rugs. When it comes to durability, you also want to consider whether you will have your rug on a patio, or anywhere that may capture some wear and tear from outdoor weather conditions. Only certain materials, like sisal, hemp, jute, or seagrass, will do best as indoor/outdoor rugs. Consider sampling these materials to see which is the best fit for your home.


MSR4548A from Martha Stewart Wool Tufted .625 by Safavieh

When it comes to practicality in your rug purchase, you want to think about materials that suit your lifestyle and expectations. For instance, do you have allergies? Certain rug types, like nylon and polyester, are better for reducing allergic reactions. Even some natural fibers like cotton, jute, sisal, hemp, and seagrass are easy on allergies as well. The only way to really know how you will react to different fibers is to get a rug sample and try it out at home first.

Another factor to consider when it comes to practical expectations is pile height. Often, people have a style preference between a low pile height (common in natural fiber rugs) versus rugs with high piles (popular with shag rugs). But another reason to consider a low pile height is because it is easier to clean. Higher piles are stylish and of course, soft, but allow for more debris to get caught in the fibers. The only way to really distinguish whether you want a low or high pile height is to get a rug sample and compare the textures in person.

Safe vs. Risky

ATQ-1015 from Antique by Surya

You’ve considered somewhat more serious factors like rug color, rug shape and size, what kind of durability you need in your rug, and what practical expectations you have for your rug. Now it’s time to have a little bit more fun with your rug options! If you are debating between having a classic and traditional rug or simple and minimalistic rug, but you are curious about what other styles are out there, rug samples are the best way to compare various styles.

You may decide you don’t want to go minimalist after all, and you love a colorful pattern with tassels on the ends. You may have always wanted to stick with neutrals, but realized, you prefer brighter shades of pink and blue. And maybe you wanted something traditional but ended up loving the color, pattern, and texture of a modern aqua rug. When choosing sample rugs to compare your options, be sure to include a sample rug of that more “out there” rug that you just aren’t sure if you will like—chances are you may!

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