How to Choose a Kitchen Rug
Some people may be asking – should you even have a rug in your kitchen? We see no reason why not and a well-placed kitchen mat or rug can provide a new dimension to your floor, adding colour, warmth, protecting surfaces and reducing noise. Kitchen rugs and mats are becoming ever more popular, whether its to break up or define a space or for practical purposes. As the heart of the home, choosing the right rug for your kitchen deserves some extra love and attention.
Kitchen Rug Types & Materials
When choosing a rug for the kitchen it’s best to consider what works and what doesn’t in a busy (and often messy) environment. Some types of rugs deal with the hustle and bustle of the kitchen better than others and there are definitely some materials to look out for, and some to avoid when it comes to choosing the perfect rug for your kitchen.
What Types of Rugs are Best for Kitchens?
This really depends on the kitchen and the use. Placing a rug in areas of high traffic, or near food prep and sink areas dictate that you should seek a rug or mat that is easily maintained and not affected by moisture. Something that is stain resistant, or better yet, washable, is best for these areas as they tend to take the most amount of stains and wear. Anti-slip backing is an added bonus, however, you can always add separate rug pads or anti-slip mats under your rug(s).
For high-risk areas the flatter a pile the better, which is why many kitchen rugs and mats are flat woven or have a very low and tight pile.
Specialist kitchen mats and doormats, like the Hug Rug range, are designed specifically with kitchens in mind, these are designed to deal with water and spills and can usually be machine-washed. They normally contain anti-slip properties so are perfect for any area of the kitchen, even next to the sink or at the garden door.
Rugs labelled for indoor-outdoor use are excellent choices as their material and fibres won’t absorb moisture, these can be scrubbed clean or often even pressure-washed. These robust rugs can be used in any area of the kitchen and unlike specialised kitchen mats often come in larger sizes so are ideal for under tables or to provide a larger area of texture and colour.
For the larger kitchen, or open-plan spaces, more conventional rugs may be appropriate, although stain resistance and wearability are of course still important in any area that hosts food and drink. Short pile polypropylene rugs are great for kitchen and living environments as they are hard wearing and easy to clean, with many being (diluted!) bleach cleanable. They tend to be on the cheaper end as well, so if worse comes to the worst and the Turmeric jar happens to explode in a cloud of super-staining mist, then the silver lining would be the rug is less likely to have broken the bank.
Which Rugs Should be Avoided in the Kitchen?
Any kind of thicker pile or shaggy rug is probably a big no-no. Even if made with easy-clean materials, longer piled rugs can trap crumbs and all sorts of nasties. Nobody wants weeks old shredded cabbage in their rug! Keep it easy to vacuum and easy to blot and life will be a lot easier.
Viscose rugs (or any of its various pseudonyms: rayon, bamboo-silk, Tencel™ or Luxcelle™) is one fabric that should be avoided at all costs anywhere near liquids or food. Viscose can easily stain and even water-mark so the further from the kitchen the better. It’s not surprising that a silk substitute (or silk for that matter) is not suitable for kitchens, but we thought it best to mention it anyway. Better safe than sorry!
The Middle Ground – Materials That Need a Little Care
Some rugs can work well with care or in specific areas of the kitchen, but may not be great in others.
Wool is best avoided in areas where water and spills are a bigger risk. It can shrink or wrinkle if left exposed to moisture for too long. Although some wool rugs are relatively easy to spot clean, they aren’t the best for spills, so when looking for a rug to go under a sink or chopping area it’s best to seek out something more robust. That being said, flat-woven wool and kilim rugs make an excellent addition to the country kitchen, or even in more modern settings. Just remember to keep them for walk-ways or the centre of the floor rather than sink and chopping areas. And don’t forget an anti-slip mat! The kitchen is the one room in the house (unless you’re counting the bathroom) where deep wool rugs should really be avoided.
Natural fibre rugs like Jute, Sisal and Seagrass can add some natural texture and warmth to a kitchen. Sisal can be extremely durable, however, these are best kept away from areas where spills are likely as they can be difficult to clean if stained. Seagrass on is another option and can resist stains a little more effectively, but any spills should be dealt with immediately to prevent permanent damage. Jute doesn’t mix well with water and can hold onto odours so best kept for use in larger open plan spaces, well away from food-prep or eating zones.
Cotton rugs or a cotton mix can be a real hit or miss. Some cotton rugs are machine washable, which is great. But others aren’t and stain removal can then be a real issue so consider the care instructions before purchase.
Polyester can feel like wool, or even offer a silky smooth and soft finish. These rugs repel water-based stains well but attract oil-based stains like no other, and once stained any sort of removal will be difficult. As a result, these definitely fall into the “be careful” category.
The Perfect Size
Getting the size just right can be more troublesome in a kitchen than in most other areas of the home. Kitchens can be downright awkward spaces, with galleys, L-shapes, U-Shapes and islands to contend with. If there’s a difficult size or shaped room anywhere in the home then the kitchen is likely to be it!
The first step in choosing the rug for your kitchen is to measure. Measure twice. Three times if you’re feeling really adventurous!
Rectangular kitchen mats tend to be small and standard sized at around 2ft by 3 ft (60x90cm) or can be available longer at around 2ft by 5ft as more of a small runner (60x150cm). These are perfect for under the sink or combined to create work zones in galley kitchens, in tight turns or between kitchen worktops and islands.
If you are looking to fit a rug or runner into a galley space or between units and an island, measure your min and max length and then take the width of the space and deduct around 3 to 6 inches either side for your ideal size.
For under a dining table, the size of the table plus 3 feet (90cm) or thereabouts in each direction is ideal to allow chairs to be pulled out but still be on the rug. So a 6ft x 3ft table would be best suited to a 12ft x 9ft rug (if space allows and there are chairs at top and bottom). If you don’t have the width to keep chairs fully on top of the rug once pulled out from the table just make sure you choose a relatively flat rug.
For decorative rugs that aren’t suited to spills, it is best to keep them more to the centre of the room. Measure at least a foot, ideally two, back from all worktop spaces and see what you are left to work with. Don’t be afraid to combine two or three smaller rugs, particularly in kitchens which aren’t simply square or rectangular in shape. This can work well with tonally similar rugs for a relaxed, casual vibe, a contrast will create a quirky feel, or use identical colours and pattern for a more structured or formal appearance.
Colour & Style
There are so many options to choose from, picking the right style and colour shouldn’t be difficult.
Looking to add some warmth or vibrancy to your kitchen? Choose a bright, bold or colourful rug to add a splash of colour. Either work with existing features in your space or introduce a new colour to a neutral space that needs a little personality. Rugs with patterns are perfect for the kitchen as, aside from looking great, they are excellent for hiding a multitude of sins if you do happen to be left with stains from spills or just general wear.
Kilims, both modern and traditional look amazing in rustic and country kitchens either blending with the style or providing an edgy modern meets traditional look.
Self-coloured, completely plain rugs are probably best kept for ultra-modern kitchens and aren’t the most practical as any stain will be obvious to the eye. Keep these for larger open plan kitchen-dining-living spaces or the centre of the room, well away from worktops or sinks.
Simple textured rugs (keep any texture light and short-piled) such as neutral herringbone and chevron styles, or even natural fibre rugs, work great for just adding some softness and depth to the kitchen, giving it a more homely feel without drawing the eye or creating a focal point.
Greys, naturals and brighter colours can all work well, but be wary of plain light shades for obvious reasons or colours that are too deep unless you are seeking an intentionally moody decor.
Don’t be afraid to move out your comfort zone, statement pieces work wonders in kitchens so think about how you can add some oomph to your space. Most kitchens are fairly plain, with a lack of pattern or colour, this opens up the opportunity to choose something that you really like without having to worry about it clashing with colours, fabrics or patterns. The vintage look layered in a modern setting is very in vogue at the moment, so why not try Persian rugs or Persian-style machine-made rugs for a timeless but colourful addition to your kitchen. Worn handmade (probably best to avoid antique for cost reasons!) rugs can look amazing and if their wear is due to use rather than age shouldn’t cost the earth… or you could even try your hand at upcycling.
Consider the style of your home and your kitchen when looking for the perfect rug. If you have clean straight lines with flat-panel cabinets, an angular and modern geometric rug might work wonders. Louvered and Shaker styles work great with anything traditional but are so versatile that modern styles work just as well. Inset cabinets look great with Kilim rugs and other woven traditional or neutral mats. Sometimes the unexpected can look great and add real personality and character to a home – so be brave but take into consideration our key points.
When choosing the perfect rug for the kitchen, consider the fabrics and pile height, how easily the rug will clean and how well it naturally deals with stains. Measure the space and work around worktops and islands, deciding whether your rug should set under food prep and eating spaces or more to the centre of the room. Don’t be afraid of colour and pattern, add some texture and warmth to what can be a more clinical space.