Should Rugs Be Lighter or Darker Than Your Walls?

Should rugs be lighter or darker than your walls

You might think that picking out the right furniture is key when it comes to home décor projects, but how you treat your walls and floors will also influence whether you create a well-considered, dynamic space. In this regard, one of the questions our design team gets asked most frequently is: Should rugs be lighter or darker than your walls?

With so many options available, making the right colour choice can be tricky. Not only do you have to ensure that you like it, but it should also complement every other element in the room.

At the end of the day, both lighter and darker options will work, but to help distinguish your walls from your floors, make sure your paint and rug colours are at least two shades apart. Here are some guidelines that will help make your decisions easier.

How does the colour of your rug influence your room?

A good area rug will help tie your room together and create a cosy aesthetic. Picking out the right shade will influence the overall look and feel of your space and will determine the mood you are trying to create.

So, whether you’re aiming for something calm, spacious, intimate or vibrant, your colour choices matter. Use these tips to help narrow down your options.

  • Natural-coloured rugs will make a room feel light, bright and airy. They are ideal for smaller spaces, create a timeless appeal and work well with both contemporary and traditional interiors. Cream, sand or beige tones are popular choices.
  • Light rugs in pastel shades will create a sense of spaciousness, making your room appear bigger than it is.
  • Dark rugs will help big spaces look snug and inviting and create a focal point that will add definition and refinement.
  • Cool-coloured rugs in shades of blue and green will bring serenity and calm to your spaces.
  • Vibrant, multi-coloured rugs will infuse your room with character and a sense of fun. Make sure that you choose one that compliments your walls and furniture.
  • Yellows, reds and oranges will instantly add warmth to your aesthetics. Textured or patterned rugs will distract the eye from your walls and furniture, making the dimensions of your room seem smaller.

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What colour rug should you choose to help hide dirt?

If you’re placing your rug in a high-traffic area, you will need to find a colour that will help manage the appearance of footprints and dirt.

While regular vacuuming or deep cleaning will assist with its upkeep and longevity, certain hues are better at hiding grime than others, decreasing the number of times you have to wash it.

Darker colours like brown, charcoal grey, navy blue and black are ideal choices, especially if you pick one made from polyester, which is durable and easy to maintain.

Should rugs be lighter or darker than your walls
Should rugs be lighter or darker than your walls


Will the texture and pile of your rug affect its colour?

The texture or pile of a rug can alter how it looks in terms of colour and lightness, creating patches that differ from the rest of the surface.

This characteristic is called “shade” or “pile reversal” and is not a manufacturing fault. Is usually caused by the way light reflects off its surface and picks up on localised changes in the direction of the pile caused by foot traffic or floor irregularities.

A velvety, textured rug with numerous, multi-levelled loops will create tones that are more varied, while rugs with a smoother finish will appear lighter and less mottled. This effect adds to the visual appeal of your rug and constantly changes how the colour is interpreted.

If your carpet does change colour over time, it could be due to a slight fading of the dyes used, pile flattening or exposure to dirt. You should be able to restore it by having it cleaned professionally and rotating it at least once a year so that it wears more evenly.

How to choose the right size rug for a living room

The size of your rug can affect the overall aesthetics of your living room, so picking out the right dimensions is crucial. Too small and the room will look unfinished, too large and your space will feel cluttered and intimidating.

Here are some pointers to help you achieve perfection:

  • Match your rug size to the dimensions of your space making sure that it will fit underneath the front legs of your sofas and chairs.
  • If your furniture is on the large side, pick out something substantial to help create balance.
  • Make sure that you leave at least 45 cm of floor space between your walls and the start of your rug.
  • If you find a rug that you love but is too small for your sitting room, consider creating a layered look by pairing it with something neutral made from jute or sisal.

For extra inspiration, take a look at our tips on choosing a rug to reflect you and your tastes.

Find bespoke rugs at FCI London

At FCI London, we stock a wide range of custom-designed rugs from esteemed suppliers like Knot & Loop and Anna Kosa custom artwork rugs. To find out more about our offerings, chat with us today or pop into our showroom for a guided tour.

For ideas on bespoke rugs, explore our Coulins project, a residential home where our design team created two completely custom rugs for a very happy client.

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