When to Use a Rug in Home Staging (and When Not To)

use a rug

Joel Coen’s cult classic The Big Lebowski weaves together a fascinating story of kidnapping, chaos, and bowling as Jeff Bridges’s character, The Dude, faces one adventure after another in the search for his rug.

THE rug.

The rug “that really tied the room together.”

As The Dude sagely noted, a favorite rug can really bring all the elements of a space into harmony. A good rug adds interest, defines the space, helps absorb noise, and creates a sense of warmth.

Used improperly, however, rugs can really distort a potential buyer’s perception of your home when staging for sale. From being a simple trip hazard to posing a major distraction, some rugs really just work better for staging when they’re gone.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few pointers to keep in mind when deciding whether your rug should stay or go when staging your house for sale:

  • Rugs on a carpet are a BIG no-no when it comes to home staging. Buyers tend to think you’re trying to cover up stains.
  • If you or anyone else has smoked in the same room as the rug or if you have pets who’ve had occasional “accidents” on the rug, just remove the rug completely. No matter how well you think you may have cleaned that rug, there’s a really good chance it’s still holding odors. Even if you can’t smell it, there’s a decent chance your buyer will.
  • Just because a rug was expensive/imported/hand-knotted by magical elves/has all your favorite colors does not mean it will do you any favors when it’s time to sell your home. If the rug is damaged, stained, stinky, missing fringe, or too taste-specific, roll up that treasure and put it into storage for now. Invest a few bucks on a less expensive rug that will do a better job showing off your home.
  • Stick with textures and neutrals when using a rug for home staging. Sisal or shag rugs are great options and look good in MLS photos.
  • Area rugs (typically rugs at least 5’ x 7’ or larger) in living rooms usually look best when the front legs of the furniture are anchored on the rug. A standard 8’ x 10’ rug works well in most living rooms.
  • Small rugs should be REMOVED from the house when staging your home for sale. Having runners, doormats, and other small rugs lying around can feel cluttered to buyers and interrupts the visual flow of the house, especially in your MLS photos. Buyers want to see the condition and quality of flooring — show them! It’s also worth noting that smaller rugs can present a bigger trip hazard for some buyers, so play it safe and take them out.
  • Bath mats are gross to potential buyers. And to be fair, having a bunch of strangers walking on your bath mat in their dirty shoes should probably feel gross to you as a seller. Keep your bath mats for stepping out of the shower safely, but stow them away in a cabinet or closet when photographing your MLS pictures or showing the home to buyers.

Still Confused? We Can Help!

If you’re still confused you can use the handy flowchart we’ve created especially for you, dear readers. The Dude abides…

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About Vannessa Rhoades
About Vannessa Rhoades

Vannessa Rhoades is the author of Just Right! Easy DIY Home Staging: Second Edition and founder of Three Bears Home Staging®. She is an HSR Certified Professional Home Stager™ and Certified Expert E-Designer™ and has staged and consulted on hundreds of properties in person throughout the Houston metro area and virtually across the country.


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