Everything you need to know about layering rugs! Reasons why you should, what size to use, 3 tried-and-true styling methods, and more. If you’ve ever considered layering rugs, read this first to make sure you get the look right!

If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, you might not have ever considered adding an area rug to your space.  After all, why would you when you already have carpet! 

Or maybe you have hardwood floors and already have a rug, would you add another? Well, there are a few good reasons why you should!  I’m sharing those reasons with you today, plus tips for layering rugs like a pro!

Rugs are a great addition to a home for many reasons. They help tie colors schemes together, hide stains, dampen, noise, and more. But rugs are expensive and not all rugs are created equal!

To help you learn how to choose a rug that’s right for you, I’ve put together this Complete Rug Buying Guide! Learn how to choose a rug based on size, material, durability, and budget to help you find the perfect rug and rug pad for your home!

But today, let’s focus on a creating decorating technique: layer rugs. In this case, it could mean either layering a rug over carpet OR layering two rugs together over a solid-surface floor, like hardwood.

Seem crazy? I assure you it’s not!

Layering rugs, a simple yet classic way to elevate your home’s look. You may not have thought about adding one to your fully carpeted rooms before. Or even thought twice about adding a rug on top of the one already existing on your hardwood floor.

My advice, think again. I’m here to guide you through it, give tips and reasons why you should, and help you layer rugs like a pro. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why Layer Rugs?

There are several options you might consider layering a rug on a rug or carpet. If you’re RENTING or have wall-to-wall carpet you can’t replace, adding a rug on carpet is an instant update! Maybe you want to cover a stain? Maybe you spent a fortune on a large area rug but now want a different look!

Here are some additional reasons you might layer rugs:

1. Better Define a Space

My living room has wall-to-wall carpeting, but that didn’t stop me from adding an area rug underneath the coffee table.  Not only did the rug help me to bring in some of the accent colors from the adjacent room {for continuity}, but it also helped me to better define my seating area.

Below, a natural fiber rug serves to connect the space between the piano and the side chairs, with a smaller rug on top to better define with seating area.

{via Better Homes & Gardens}
{via Better Homes & Gardens}

2. Add Color or pattern

If you’re like me and change your mind about accent colors, small area rugs can be a great way to add color continuity and give your room a little “wow” factor!

In the bright and airy room from Sally Wheat Interiors below, the white rug serves to give the floor the same look as the rest of the room and continues the use of white accents throughout the room.

3. Add Texture

Texture typically refers to the material itself, but patterns can also serve as texture, especially in a neutral room void of other patterns!

{via Pottery Barn}
{via Pottery Barn}

Below, a fluffy rug adds a sense of coziness to what could otherwise, be a stark white room.

4. Save Money

Area rugs can be quite expensive depending on the size, materials, and manufacturing process!  If your budget doesn’t allow for you to purchase the rug you want at the size you need, consider using a less expensive full-size rug on the bottom with a more expensive accent rug on top.  You’ll still fill the space you need but achieve the look for less.

{via Apartment Therapy}
{via Apartment Therapy}

Is your room very large or an odd shape? Maybe you need a custom rug!

5. Just Because

Despite all of the “rules” and “guidelines” there are for decorating, not everything needs a reason!  It’s okay to do something just because you feel like it!  Layering rugs can add a bit of whimsy to a space or even allow you to easily change up the look of a room.

{via Joy Tribout}
{via Joy Tribout}

What Rugs are Best for Layering?

Neutral or natural fiber rugs and carpeting make a great backdrop to all types of prints and patterns, helping to take some of the guesswork out of the layering process!

But if you’re comfortable with pattern and color, feel free to play! Just be sure to follow the basic tips for decorating with patterns.

Be wary of high-pile rugs.  When placed on the bottom, they might look as if they are eating the top rug! Instead, great base rugs for layering include sisal rugs and low-pile options.

What Size Rugs to Layer?

Size matters!  When layering two rugs of the same shape that will be placed in the same direction, make sure the bottom rug is large enough to allow for a significant border around the smaller rug so that you achieve an intentional look. 

While there aren’t any specific rules, a typical layered rug is around ⅔ the size of the one underneath it.

The bottom rug should be the larger base while the smaller rug on top is an accent.

Can You Put Rugs on Carpet?

Yes! Layering rugs doesn’t have to be two area rugs, it can also mean a rug on carpet. This look is great for when you want to add color or pattern to a room without replacing the carpet. It’s also great for when you need to hide a stain or damage. Or even when you just want to give the room an instant update!

Tween girl bedroom makeover in turquoise and white. Budget-friendly with lots of storage with built-ins around window

How to Layer Rugs – 3 Easy Ways

Now you know WHY to layer rugs, you know what size and what type of rug is best, let’s talk about HOW to layer rugs! Do you layer both rugs in the same direction? Does one go at an angle?

The easy answer is there is no “right” way to layer rugs, but there are 3 tried-and-true methods to start you off.

Method 1: Layering Rugs Straight

You can have them be the same shape and go in the same direction. In this case, remember that the smaller one should be at least 2/3 the size of the larger, if not smaller.

Method 2: Layering Rugs on the Bias

Think outside the lines!  Your layered rugs don’t need to be the same shape or perfectly lay on top of one another.  You can angle the top rug on the BIAS. Your larger, base rug should be put down straight, aligned with the furniture. You can then take your smaller, accent rug and put it on the bias.

Method 3: Overlapping Rugs

This method works best when you’re trying to visually connect two spaces or give the illusion of one long rug. In this case, you simply need to overlap the rugs at one corner.

Can Animal Hide Rugs Be Used for Layering?

Yes! In fact, animal hides (or even prints) are an easy way to dip your toe into the world of layering rugs!

An animal hide on top of a neutral backdrop really makes the print stand out! Since hides are organic shapes, the shape of the base rug (or carpet) makes a great frame for the hide.

How to Keep Layered Rugs from Bunching

There are a few easy ways to keep your rugs from bunching up. The easiest is to simply ensure that the ends are anchored with furniture!

But you can also purchase a rug pad specifically made for rugs on top of carpet or rugs layered on rugs. A rug pad not only helps prevent the rippling, but it also keeps the backing of the top rug from rubbing on the bottom rug and potentially ruining it!

A great product is the Magic Stop Rug Pad. It is specially designed for layering rugs!

More Decorating Ideas


Happy layering!

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  1. Roseann D’Elia says:

    Thank you,Thank you for sharing the “Magic Stop rug pad” now for the heard part…rug search for my French Country Cottage livingroom. Your ideas would be most helpful.

    1. Hi Roseann! I don’t have a style guide for rugs, but that’s a great idea! Thank you for the suggestions and I’ll add that to my list. I’ve definitely struggled with finding the right rug because often what I order online looks nothing like what gets delivered! Lol! I’ve now learned my lesson and only order online if it’s from a place that will allow me to return the rug in store. I’m definitely not packing up and mailing a rug back to anyone – that’s too much work! :) Kim

  2. I am moving into a quaint apartment on the third floor of a refurbished inn. There is one problem: they foyer and entryway are freshly carpeted in two different tones. How do you suggest that I layer carpets/mats for cleanliness, until I can have it replaced with laminate flooring?

  3. Not a fan of the layered look shown in these pictures. It looks redundant to me. However, I do like the look of the first picture in #5.

  4. I love all of the images! I’d like to add a sheepskin rug on top of an oriental rug in my living room to warm things up for winter.
    Thanks for all of your great ideas,

  5. I have several layered rugs but to date have a problem with the upper rug ‘walking’. If there is a coffee table or chair on the rug it will actually ripple up under the furniture legs. Do you know of any solution to this?

    1. User Avatar Tidbits&Twine says:

      Hi Mari – Thankfully, I haven’t had that issue with my rug that is on my carpet. I’m assuming that you’ve tried the rubber rug pads (or less expensive shelf liners) already? I’ve also heard that lines of rubber caulking can be used on the backing to help keep them in place, or even velcro. If you find something that works for you, please share!

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