Is a rug for your kitchen a good idea? When I was first presented with this question my first instinct (and maybe my slight OCD – no judgment ) was to say a big fat determined “NO”. Then to continue with “why would you want a high maintenance material in your kitchen and something extra to clean?!” But then I took a few breaths to run some much-needed oxygen to my brain in order to calm myself down and thought about it.
A rug for the kitchen is a good idea if you want to define your kitchen space, add visual warmth, color and texture to your kitchen or use it as an insulator in cold weather. It can also be a good tool to prevent slipping in the “slip prone“ area (the sink) or muffle out some kitchen noise. That being said if you are a cleaning freak it’s a pass for you as it is high maintenance material and an extra item to clean.
As you can see there are plenty of good, rational, even necessary reasons for a rug to be present in a kitchen.
Now let’s dive in and check those reasons out more closely.
A rug instantly defines an area
Simply by its shape and presence, a rug draws attention to an area, grounds, and defines it. This is even more true if you happen to have an open floor plan combining the kitchen with another room such as the family room. With few or no walls separating one space from the other, putting down a rug creates a visual separation between the areas.
A rug adds both visual warmth and texture to the kitchen
Visual warmth and texture – two elements I always strive for in a design.
Your kitchen surfaces are made of hard finishes, cabinets, floors, and counters. Layering these with a rug will instantly add softness and make the kitchen feel cozier and inviting (provided you want people to feel invited into your kitchen- again, no judgment:)
A rug can easily add color and personality to a kitchen.
Rugs are available in an unlimited selection of styles and colors. It is a rather easy way to add some or more color to your kitchen. Color has the ability to immediately change the feel of a space. Spreading down a rug with an unexpected contrasting design or color can give an otherwise boring kitchen much-needed personality. I believe a well-designed home lets its inhabitant’s personality show through.
It can act as an insulator
Another good reason to put a rug in the kitchen is that it can act as an insulator between your bare feet and a cold floor.
Sure, in a perfect world you would have heated floors in the kitchen keeping your body all nice and toasty, but sometimes for either technical or budget reasons that is not possible. Adding a rug underneath your feet can help keep you warm.
It can help ease joint pain and lower back pain
We spend most of our kitchen time at the sink. If it’s a number you want – about 90% of our working time in the kitchen is by the sink (if you recall the HOW TO REACH MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY IN YOUR KITCHEN you will remember that the sink is in your main prep area – if you have not had a chance to read that article I highly recommend it. It’s a kitchen game-changer- ok maybe not game-changer but definitely informative). Kitchen work can be hard on your body. At times it means being hunched over such as when scrubbing pots or rolling out dough. Having a softer surface underneath your feet where you do these tasks can help elevate some of the pressure off your body.
A rug can help muffle out some kitchen noise
Rugs and textiles, in general, are also used in spaces for their acoustic absorption qualities. A rug can absorb some kitchen noises (pots and pans clinging, a dropped fork). These noises are more prominent in open kitchens and in kitchens with tile floors (versus hardwood flooring).
A rug can prevent sliping
A rug can prevent slipping in an otherwise “slip prone “ area like the sink
Just add water or grease to a hard floor surface such as wood or tile for the perfect slippage opportunity- placing an appropriate rug (read how to choose a kitchen rug ) in areas where most spills occur such as in front of the sink and your main prep area may help eliminate slipping.
They just look pretty!
No need for further explanation here but if you want one then- sometimes you just need pretty in your kitchen.
It’s an easy accessory to change
Unlike the rest of your kitchen, a rug is easy to change and replace. It’s doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment. If you get tired of a rug, maybe you want a different color or style or perhaps you simply changed your mind about having a rug, all you need to do it roll it up and get it out of your kitchen. No messy construction work is necessary.
You need to cover up damaged flooring
This certainly can be the case. Maybe there is a damaged tile, chipped or discolored wood plank. Whatever your damage is, it needs attending to and sometimes you need a quick fix. Maybe the replacement tile is out of stock, for now, the flooring installer is unavailable for a while or maybe fixing the floor is not in your budget right now. Placing a rug on top of it can be your solution and buy you time until you can attend to the issue more appropriately. It can be a quick and budget-friendly solution.
As you can see, I covered many good reasons why you should get a rug in your kitchen, but as always, it’s better to look at the whole picture and be informed. So…
Why not to have a rug in the kitchen?
Having a rug in the kitchen is not for everyone.
It can be challenging to clean and maintain but that also depends on what your rug is made of.
A rug can also be an obstacle. If not spread correctly it can be a hazard and can be tripped on, it can also cause accessibility issues if using a walker, crutches, or a wheelchair.
One of the best pieces of advice I got in design school is that I should never spec anything for a client that they will not be able to easily replace.
Kinda like the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket “ tip. So please don’t choose your most precious rug to use in your kitchen unless you are willing to -either deal with some imperfections along the way that may occur in one of many kitchen accidents, or part with it.
Where in the kitchen can I place a rug?
1. In front of the sink
In front of the sink is a beautiful opportunity to place a rug. The sink area is usually a focal point and spreading a rug there can further elevate that area. It is also a great visual place for a runner.
2. Under your kitchen table:
Placing a rug under your kitchen table instantly make that area feel cozier and inviting. It can also make the area feel more formal which can be great if you do not have a dining room. The kitchen table is a high traffic zone, crumbs and food leftovers will fall onto the rug so choose easy to take care of rugs such as low-pile and patterned ones so that they can be vacuumed easily and hide stains and imperfections that may stay behind. Also, moving chairs back and forth may be easier to do on a low-pile rug rather than on a high-pile one.
3. In a sitting area:
You may have an area in your kitchen where you have the opportunity to have a lounge chair or two, maybe even a couch, maybe you are lucky enough to have a fireplace too. In any case, if you happen to have any of these available to you, placing a rug there will accentuate and define the area making it that much more special.
How to pick the right rug for my kitchen?
As I always approach my design decisions -function first then aesthetic.
This means you first need to understand what you need your rug for. What is its function in the kitchen – for example- do you require extra cushioning under your feet to help ease back pain? You also need to determine where it is going to be- in front of the sink where it will get splashed on or under the kitchen table where it will be decorated with crumbs and food scraps- in order to move on to the next step which is WHAT MATERIAL SHOULD A KITCHEN RUG BE MADE OF?
What material should a rug in the kitchen be made of?
So you decided that a rug in your kitchen is a good idea.
The kitchen is the hardest working room in the house and requires constant cleaning and maintenance. That should be reason enough to get the right material for a rug so that maintenance and cleaning it will be easy and worry-free.
Choosing a rug for your kitchen: what materials are available?
Basically, the materials that rugs are made of can be divided into two groups- Natural and synthetic.
The natural group includes sisal and jute, wool, linen, cotton, felt, and silk to name a popular few. Synthetic rugs are made of polyester, nylon, rubber, and polypropylene. Generally speaking, a rug made of synthetic fibers will be easier to clean and maintain in a kitchen than a natural fiber rug. Synthetic fiber rugs will also most likely be less expensive and more budget-friendly, however, this does not mean you can not use a natural fiber rug in your kitchen. You just need to understand the fiber and how to best take care of it. Wool for example is a highly durable natural fiber. Wool has natural oils which help repel dirt and stains. These oils also give the wool deep and rich color that is just not the same in its synthetic match. Also, a wool rug will keep your feet warmer than a synthetic one. If you do choose wool then I suggest you look for a low-cut pile as well as one with a pattern. The low pile might mean less cushioning (you can fix that with the help of an under-pad) than a high pile but it will be easier to clean. Sisal is also very popular in kitchens. It looks great, comes in a variety of colors, and has a very organic, relaxed, and earthy look. It is a bit rough to the touch so if you have little ones that are still crawling it may not be the best choice. However, if sisal is your choice my suggestion is to go with a medium to dark color, a tight weave, and perhaps a pattern to better hide stains. Also if you love the look of sisal but don’t want the maintenance you could opt for imitation sisal. As for silk, cotton, and linen, I would just stay away from them in the kitchen. Although they are strong fibers and may look great and tempting, these fibers are challenging to clean and why would you want the headache? Save them for another room.
TIP: Use a rubber under-pad
Using an under-pad under your rug will:
-prolong the life of your carpet
-provide safety as it will prevent the carpet from slipping when stepping on it.
By adding this extra cushioned layer the under-pad will make standing on a rug more comfortable.
For a rug in front of the sink choose a thicker underpad for added comfort
-most rugs tend to come in standard sizes 2’x3’, 4’x6’, 5’x7’, 6’x9’, 8’x10’, 9’x12’ and 12’x15’
Older wool rugs come in a variety of different sizes so if it’s an odd size you are after and you are open to the style then you might want to explore this route.
if you find a rug that you absolutely love and it’s just too big you can get it cut down to size by a professional (put away those scissors- this is not a DIY job).
Whether you choose it for a purely functional reason such as added cushioning under your feet to help with low back pain (such as when standing in front of your sink), or simply for an aesthetic reason because it just looks beautiful, a rug can instantly elevate the look of your kitchen. Introducing a soft material to a room that is mainly made up of hard surfaces will add softness and personality to your space. As always keep in mind how you and others use the kitchen and select the right materials for your rug so that you can fully enjoy it.