Patterned Rugs vs Plain Rugs: What Should You Choose?

patterned rugs in living room

With great rugs comes great responsibility (or something like that). Rugs are an investment so it’s key to choose wisely. With so many rug choices to choose from, it’s important to be aware of the cardinal rules of rug styling so you are 100% happy with your choice. There’s more to consider than you might have thought. For example, can you pair a patterned rug with patterned curtains? How do you style patterned rugs in the living room? And do plain area rugs with borders count as patterned rugs? In this blog post, we’ll break down the pros and cons of patterned and plain rugs to help you decide. Patterned rugs don’t have to be reminiscent of your Great Aunt Maeve’s bungalow and plain rugs don’t need to be boring.

Patterned Area Rugs

From striped to geometric, patterned rugs are fantastic additions to home décor. But if you don’t know your tribal from your quatrefoil, we’ll help explain when you should opt for patterned and when you should keep it plain.


  • Juxtaposition – if you have plain walls and plain furniture, a patterned rug can offer some sophisticated contrast and a pop of personality and character. Try mixing a traditional or Persian rug with a plain modern room for a stylish contrast of old and new. For help with this, read our blog post on how to fit a traditional rug in a modern space. Alternatively, why not match the colour of the patterned rug to any coloured accents in the room or buy some accents to match the rug? This Bedale Textured Geometric Blue Rug has a soft geometric pattern to give plain rooms a gentle lift.
plain area rugs
  • Creates depth and a focal point – If you have a particularly large or plain space, a patterned rug can offer a focal point for the room and provide some depth to the décor. With so much natural light and space, it could be difficult to know where to look in this room. The Clarence Istanbul Blue Rug creates some interesting depth to this otherwise minimalist room.
  • Optical illusion – Depending on the pattern you choose, a patterned rug can make a room look bigger than it is. Long patterns, runners, and vertical stripes can create the illusion of a longer room which horizontal lines make a space feel wider. This stretched quatrefoil runner makes this galley kitchen appear even longer and we also love this Luxury Grey Geometric Portland Runner.
  • Better in places with lots of footfall – Patterned rugs are a great option for areas with a lot of footfall as they can be quite forgiving of stains and marks, especially if the pattern is darker and disguising. You can also read our rug cleaning guide to help you keep your rug as clean as possible. Patterned rugs can even be used as outdoor rugs as long as they are under cover during rainy spells.


  • They can be too busy – while pairing patterned rugs with patterned furniture can sometimes look amazing, if it’s not done carefully it can just look messy and busy. Unless you’re being advised by a seasoned interior designer we would recommend avoiding patterns in a heavily patterned room to avoid a flashback to the 70s.
  • They can make a room look small – in the same way, some patterns can make a room look bigger, others can make a room look smaller. Very busy patterns in a darker space can pull the whole room in, giving a crowded impression.

Plain Area Rugs

Plain rugs don’t have to be uneventful. In fact, their plainness works well with a range of textures that would possibly be too much for patterned rugs. Choose a bold colour or a shaggy, sheepskin or flatweave texture for a tasteful finish to your home.


  • They’re the minimalist’s dream – if you’re a fan of the minimalist look, plain rugs were made for you. The lovely thing about plain rugs is that you can keep the colour uniform while playing with different textures. Shaggy and flatweave rugs are a great way to keep it plain but add texture to the room. From Cambridge to Chelmsford and Noble, we have a number of beautiful ranges of shaggy rugs.
patterned rug with patterned curtains (
  • Balances out patterned furniture – If you have patterned furniture, plain area rugs can balance the room out to avoid clashes, in the same way, that patterned rugs contrast plain décor.
  • Creates the illusion of a larger space  – A plain rug can also make a room look bigger, especially if you’re working with a small space.


  • Makes room lack depth – When pairing plain rugs with plain décor it can make the room lack depth. You can avoid this by choosing plain rugs with borders which maintain the plain look but add some definition to create a focal point in the room. The Greek Key Flatweave rugs achieve this well.
plain rugs with borders
  • Can amplify stains – if the plain rug is in an area that gets a lot of foot traffic, stains can accumulate very quickly and be quite noticeable on a plain background. We would recommend keeping plain rugs in areas that don’t see the bottoms of shoes and choosing patterned rugs for the busier areas of the home.

We hope you feel more confident in choosing patterned or plain area rugs. Remember, there is a lot of choice at Rug Traders so you’ll be bound to find a rug that suits your space. Explore our selection of plain and patterned rugs today.

Leave a Reply