Smaller kitchen rugs can add a dash of flair to your kitchen floor and also have a number of practical uses as well. It is common to find area rugs in front of sinks and ovens or other areas where one may stand for an extended period of time in the kitchen. Kitchen rugs not only protect these spots from wearing faster than other areas on the floor that are less trafficked, but also provide cushioning and comfort underfoot. Anyone doing dishes for long periods of time or cooking over a stove for hours will appreciate the added comfort of kitchen area rugs.
Common rug styles used in kitchens include Oriental area rugs, floral prints, novelty or theme rugs, contemporary rugs, and solid colored rugs. You find kitchen rugs with several different construction methods including braided, machine made, hand–hooked, hand–tufted, and flat–woven rugs. Kitchen area rugs can be made of a variety of materials including synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester, and olefin and natural fibers such as wool, cotton, bamboo, seagrass, and sisal rugs.
Braided area rugs are very common in kitchens as they are easy to clean and durable enough to stand up to everyday kitchen abuse. Many braided area rugs look exactly the same on each side making them reversible. In addition, braided area rugs are inexpensive when compared to hand–knotted area rugs, meaning you don’t have to fret once you rug becomes too stained to clean on both sides. Simply dispose of the area rug, or better yet, recycled it at a carpet recycling center and purchase a new one for a relatively inexpensive price.
When selecting a kitchen rug, regardless of the construction method and the type of carpet fiber that you choose, you should be sure to select one that is colorfast and will not bleed if the dye becomes wet. In addition, do not choose rubber backed kitchen rugs as these can stain your floors, often with a yellowish color. Keep in mind that some rugs are machine–washable but most will require a professional cleaning.
Rugs Add Warmth and Softness
Kitchens tend to have a lot of hard surfaces (cabinetry, counters, appliances and hardware), and they can benefit from the softness of rugs.
If your kitchen seems a little too much like a workspace, a soft, tactile rug can help it feel more like a welcoming part of the home, especially if you have rugs or carpeting in adjacent rooms.
Besides adding visual warmth and softness, a rug also adds literal softness, giving you something cushy to stand on while cooking.
A little bit of extra cushioning under the feet can make a big difference if you spend a lot of time standing in one spot chopping, stirring or even just chatting.
Of course, you’ll want to be prepared to react quickly to any drips, crumbs and splatters, so make sure you know how to deal with various food stains. There are other methods of handling spills as well, such as going with a flat-weave versus a shag rug and sticking to darker color palettes like red.
Rugs Add Color
If you’re looking to add a splash of color to your kitchen, sometimes the options can be quite limited. Painting the cabinets a bold color can feel risky (especially for those highly concerned with resale value). And if you’re renting? Say goodbye to your damage deposit if you paint those white or wood cabinets fuchsia.
Instead, look to a slim runner rug as a design-savvy way to add a dose of vibrant color in whatever daring hue you choose.
If you want a more subtle infusion of color, look to multitonal rugs, such as classic Persian or Oriental styles in appetizing ruddy reds and oranges. The more colors in the rug, the less any single hue will stand out, so the effect will actually be simultaneously more colorful and more neutral.
The best part: You can always roll the rug up and tuck it away if you want to change your look for the season, creating summer and winter looks that feel dramatically different.
Take this space as a perfect example of how a rug can “colorize” a room. This kitchen appears to have a strong presence of blue, but on close inspection the only blue items are the rug and the serveware pieces on the island.
Look for a few accessories that pull from the primary color in your rug and — ta-da — you’ve got a colorful kitchen you can live with.
Rugs Add Pattern and Personality
Designers know that an important element to consider in any decor is pattern. Whether dramatic or subtle, a dose of pattern adds important energy and personality to a room, even without introducing any color.
In a transitional- or cottage-inspired home, look to rugs with a geometric pattern in a tone-on-tone palette to add some life while preserving a serene atmosphere.
For a contemporary and dramatic approach, a simple black-and-white stripe always feels stylish.
For more traditional or eclectic appeal, look to complex ornamental patterns in time-tested palettes to add a sense of sophistication and maturity.
How to Choose a Kitchen Rug
Look for a flat, dense weave. While a luxurious shag rug can be beautiful, it’s the kind of rug that’s hard enough to keep clean in a living room, let alone a kitchen. In a space where spills, crumbs and a lot of wear and tear are inevitable, your best bet is a tight, flat weave.
Look for a carpet that has short, dense fibers, which will essentially lock out soil and hold up to use.
When you run your hand over a tight-weave rug, you shouldn’t be able to feel many individual fibers or yarns, but rather a solid surface of tight material.
One way to examine the density of a rug is to pick it up and bend it on the diagonal. If the rows of fibers are loosely spaced, the channels in between them will be revealed when bent, and these channels are where dirt can take up residence.
Synthetic fibers: Polyester, nylon and other synthetic fibers have some advantages and some disadvantages.
Polyester resists water well, making it a great choice for a short rug near the sink. However, polyester absorbs oils, meaning you’ll want to keep a polyester rug a good distance from a bubbling pot of spaghetti sauce.
Nylon doesn’t have as much trouble with oil as polyester does, but it has a bit of a tendency to fade in the sun. A nylon rug can work well tucked behind an island, where direct sunlight won’t hit it. Or you can embrace the fact that the color will change over time (more on that in a bit).
Olefin is great for creating a look similar to wool and is popular for outdoor rugs because it’s able to weather the elements. However, it doesn’t necessarily hold up well to heavy traffic, so if you spend a lot of time working in the kitchen, it might not last.
Synthetic rugs tend to be less of an investment than natural-fiber rugs, so they’re good if you’re looking for a price point that won’t be too painful when it’s time to replace the rug.
Keep in mind that a rug that resists water won’t save the floor below from major spills or cause dirt to vanish, so you’ll still want to react quickly to messes and give the rug regular gentle cleanings.
Natural fibers: There are many natural fibers that can be used for a rug, but some are more common than others.
Wool is perhaps the best overall material for a rug, being naturally hardy, comfortable and good at repelling soil. It also dyes well, allowing for rich hues. However, these properties come with a higher price tag than most synthetics.
Jute and sisal rugs are less plush and inviting than wool, but their rugged, durable textures can be appealing in their own right. The stiff, grassy fibers have a strong beach- or cottage-inspired vibe and, while not soft on toes, they can be especially good for those who tend to wear footwear in the home.
While it’s important to carefully consider the material of the rug, there are a few other strategic ways to extend the life of a rug in the kitchen.
Besides beautifying your home, bringing some pattern into your rug also helps disguise wear and tear, as well as the occasional small discoloration. This is especially true of rugs with a complex pattern that includes a variety of shapes on a smaller scale, as they can camouflage stains to some degree no matter the color.
You know what they say: If you can’t beat, ’em, join ’em. Two of the biggest culprits in kitchen stains are tomato sauce and red wine. If you have a bad spill (especially one that isn’t immediately detected), you may find a permanent red spot that can be cleaned but never fully erased. A rug that already focuses on shades of red is much less likely than a more subdued hue to show these vivid stains, so if you like these rich foods, consider brick reds or another dark color.
Rugs that are either true vintage or re-create the look with prefaded or -worn areas take the preciousness and fussiness out of the equation, starting you off with a look that’s already perfectly imperfect, so a little wear and tear won’t ruin anything.
Sizing and Placement
Lastly, let’s talk about how to choose a rug’s size and placement. Luckily, it’s a lot harder to go wrong in a kitchen than in some other spaces, especially if you choose a runner that’s significantly longer than it is wide.
In a living room or dining room, the rug needs to suit the proportion of numerous other furnishings, but in a kitchen it can float between the cabinets or be pushed up against one wall, run the length of the cabinets or simply fill a small area like a mat.
For more modern spaces or a very formal home, having the rug crisply line up with elements will give a tailored look, but in a more transitional or casual space there are really no rules on length.
One common approach is to choose a rug approximately as long as the island (or a bit shorter) so that it fills the space between the island and main counters.
To float in the middle widthwise between cabinets, the rug should fill about two-thirds to four-fifths of the space — usually meaning the rug is about 2½ to 3½ feet wide.
Another good option is to aim to have the revealed floor area around the sides and ends of the rug be about the same for a symmetrical and balanced look.
Having a rug sit a bit away from the counters will keep many drips and crumbs from actually reaching the rug — assuming they fall off the counter and aren’t flung.
Tucking a rug up against one particular area where more work happens gives you a cozy spot to stand, especially around the sink or a chopping station (which tends to be less of a site for oil drips than, say, the range).
Want to cover a large area? Don’t be afraid to combine several rugs in the same room or adjacent spaces. Choosing two rugs that pick up on similar palettes and shapes will help them connect, but they don’t necessarily have to be exactly the same to be beautiful together.
In fact, if you like an eclectic or casually chic look, you can go ahead and use two rugs that are completely different. Try pulling in rugs from other spaces, or making use of a company’s return policy to test out the look of a rug (or two) in your kitchen to see if the look is right for you. You might be surprised at just how different, and more welcoming, your kitchen will look.