What Are Accent Rugs?

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Several accent rugs rolled up and standing upright in a row

Sam Presnell from the Rug Gallery discusses what accent rugs are and how to use accent rugs in your home to get the look and feel you desire from your flooring.


John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an Oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m John Maher and I’m here with the owner of The Rug Gallery, Sam Presnell. Hi, Sam.

Sam Presnell: Hey, John.

What are accent rugs?

John: Sam, today we’re talking about accent rugs and how to use them. What are accent rugs?

Sam: I didn’t even think about that one, what really is an accent rug? It just seems very common knowledge to what I think an accent rug is, I never think about how you define that. Accent rugs, to me, are rugs that are small rugs usually, that have a little splash of color or design. They can bring colors together in a room if you’ve got different things going on [with] the fabrics and wall colors, things like that, which are nice and really bring all that color down to the spot for you.

It can define a space, a very small space. Maybe it’s a little scenery you have in front of two big windows, you just want a nice low accent rug in front of that, or maybe they could be in front of the sink as far as catching the water and things like that from the sink. The best way I can describe it would be like putting a painting on a wall, it’s like a small painting on your floor. I think that’s pretty much what you can perceive what an accent rug is.

Accent rugs versus other types 

John: How are accent rugs, or you might call it an area rug, how’s that different than another type of rug?

Sam: Well, people say an Oriental rug—to me, I would never call a true hand-woven Oriental rug an accent rug, but a lot of people may think that they are accent rugs because they’re just small. There’s all kinds of rugs that, if you want to be technical about it, that you wouldn’t call an accent rug.

To me, if somebody sells an accent rug, I would think they’re just small machine-made or tufted [rugs], something that’s not very expensive, just something that is down on the floor, just [to] pull a little color or design through, but there are a lot of really good high-end rugs as well that you could call them accent rugs, I guess.

Can I put an accent rug on top of another rug? 

John: Would you use an accent rug on top of another rug, or is it only over a hardwood floor?

Sam: Good point, John. I forgot all about saying something about that, but yes, definitely that’s the big thing today. Especially if you’ve got a space where everything is just so neutral. An accent rug will pull some colors together and get a little color into the room.

It could be just a little coffee table rug, or in front of the fire place as well. Definitely, on top of carpeting, it’s probably one of the more popular things. It does have some behavior issues you may have to deal with, but yes, very, very popular to put a rug on top of a carpet.

How to Keep Accent Rugs in Place

John: What are some of the issues then, that you might deal with when you have an accent rug on top of a regular carpet?

Sam: The best way to describe it to you is, basically, you can imagine you made a bed and then you go to walk on it or you put your foot on that bed or sit on that bed and everything just wrinkles towards the weight.

If you press your foot down on an area rug on top of carpeting on top of padding, it sinks. It wants to gather up where you walk on, so it will move, it will bunch. It depends on the density of the area rug, depends on what kind of carpet you have down underneath it and what kind of padding is underneath that as well.

You will have better behavior [with] a very short profile carpet like a Berber or a very tight loop, and then a very felted or a heavy dense pad will give less bounce to it [and] will make that rug less movable, [so it will] stay in place more. There are special paddings that we sell, and [that] other people sell, that will alleviate the movement and help with that bunching as well.

Use special padding

John: If you put a coffee table on top of it and the legs of the coffee table are narrow or thin, where that leg just makes an imprint or pushes right through that accent rug?

Sam: Yes, and definitely you’ll see that underneath those. Really, we got heavy weights sitting on them, sometimes pianos as well, lots of weight on very small points and then that pushes into the carpet, pushes into the pad, and it tends to want to bunch up on the ends. You’ll see the carpet will tend to bend on the edges.

You have a special pad that’s out there, we call it No-Muv, which is, I guess, if you can imagine putting a piece of plywood underneath that area rug and then putting that on top there. It distributes that pressure point over a wider area and allows less ability to sink in at a smaller point. There is something you can do for that as well if it’s a coffee table or whatever it may be that’s producing a dent in your area rug.

John: Is that No-Muv a very stiff kind of pad?

Sam: It is stiff. It’s like I said, it’s like a woven piece of plywood in some strange way. Yes, it definitely works. It’s not 100% like an area rug on top of hardwood with a proper pad, but it makes a big, big improvement over what you’re experiencing.

Other Ways to Use Accent Rugs 

John: You mentioned a couple of different ways, but what are some other ways that people might use an accent rug in their home?

Sam: Well, it’s funny, but a lot of people use them as tapestries on walls, which would be like a painting, which I think is a very, very common practice, we see that a lot.

In fact, when I see a lot of movies, I see rugs being used decoratively on walls, area rugs or accent rugs being used as paintings or wall pieces as well. A lot of people will drape them over tables [or] use them as a coverlet on [the] edge of a bed.

I actually think there’s probably lots of things you can do with accent rugs. You can make pillows out of them. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things in there today, but whenever you’re creative, [what] you can do with a piece of textile, you can do with an area rug.

John: All right, that’s great advice. Thanks for speaking with me today, Sam.

Sam: All right, John. My pleasure. Thank you.

John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery and Oriental rugs and carpets visit [] or call 513-793-9505. Make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes, and if you can take the time to give us a review as well we’d appreciate that. See you next time on The Rug Gallery.

Categories: Ask Sam, Rug

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