How To Decorate With Vintage Rugs (And Embrace Their Wonky Dimensions!)

It's no secret that Jen and I love vintage and antique rugs. We use at least one in nearly every project! Vintage rugs add coziness, color, and character to any style. But the same attributes that give vintage rugs their panache can also make them intimidating to incorporate on your own. Vintage rugs often come in non-standard sizes and unusual color combos. These traits make us love them even more- they guarantee your space will be one-of-a-kind! And because we want to spread the vintage rug joy, we’re bringing you some helpful guides on building a color scheme for a room around a vintage rug and utilizing non-standard rug sizes to enhance common furniture layouts. This week we’re tackling the size issue. If you find a vintage rug in a color or pattern that you love, size should never stop you from working it into you space. We’re going to show you how to layer and combine rugs to meet your floor coverage needs in any room of your house!


Runner Rugs

Vintage runner rugs (long skinny rugs typically used for hallways or stairs) come in myriad lengths and rage in width from 2 feet to as wide as 5 or 6 feet. These wide runners are typically longer than regular runners, so they maintain the long rectangle shape of a smaller hallway runner and are often referred to as palace runners.

1) Double Up in a Long Hall

If you have a long hallway like the one pictured above and you can’t find or don’t want to shell out the big bucks for a long skinny runner, consider using two shorter runners in a similar color palette or pattern. If you are in the market for one of those hard to find, extra-long runners, we’ve got three absolute beauties in The Shophouse! Meet Beauregard, Rex, and longest of all, Archibald!


2) End of the Bed

Another great place for a runner rug is at the foot of a bed. Layer the runner over a larger neutral rug like a natural fiber style (read our guide on natural fiber rugs here) that’s appropriately sized for the room. To get this look, check out Lancelot or Atticus in The Shophouse!


3) Frame a Bed

If you want to use only vintage rugs in your bedroom and haven’t found a room sized contender, use a squat runner on either side of the bed and a longer runner at the foot. This works best when all three rugs relate in some way- either in style or color palette. Rupert and Gideon from The Shophouse are both a suitable size for an arrangement like this.


4) Fit for a Queen

Palace runners like the examples above and below the are another excellent way to add a vintage rug to your bedroom by layering it over a neutral room-sized rug. We’re showing you both of these examples to illustrate how flexible you can be when you have a larger rug to anchor the space- vintage rugs commonly come in very irregular sizes like the 4’8”x11’2” example below. Check out Percy and Reginald, two vintage palace runners available in The Shophouse!


Small & Medium Rugs


1) In a Bedroom

A smaller area rug like the 4’x7’ pictured above works at the foot of the bed too. It’s a great way to quickly inject some color, pattern, and texture into a space. Like this look? Check out Horatio, Roderick, or August in our shop! If you hate the layered rug look, you can always opt for a room sized vintage rug like Cecil, the largest rug currently in our vintage shop.

Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 4.43.15 PM.png

2) Under a coffee table

Here we’ve used a smaller square rug under a coffee table, layered over a larger natural fiber rug, to cozy up a neutral living room scheme.

Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 4.22.18 PM.png

3) Utilize an “In-Between” Rug

Oftentimes vintage rugs come in in-between sizes that aren’t what we’d consider a room-size rug or a small area rug. These actually come in handy when creating cozy conversational arrangements in older homes which often have unusual or quint (aka tight) floor plans. Here we’ve used one of these in-betweeners, a 6’1”x8’10” to anchor a small sitting area next to a breakfast nook off of a kitchen.

Mix and Match Rug Sizes to Create Zones


1) That Work-From-Home Life

To delineate a home-office space from a conversational space in a large living room, pair a large area rug and a palace runner. The large living room above has built-ins at one end which hold a TV and serve as the focal point for the “living” zone of this room.


2) Square It Up

Above is another example of a living room with a “living” zone and an “office” zone. In this example, a fireplace centered on the long wall serves as the room’s focal point. The fact that the focal point is centered in the space makes splitting this room into two zones more challenging, so we’ve used a corner sectional to “point” towards the focal point of the hearth and opted for a square rather than a rectangular rug. Square rugs are actually a relatively common shape for vintage rugs!


3) Create Cozy Cohesion

This long living room has a high traffic pass-thru at one end, where traffic flows from the entry through to the kitchen. To keep this space from feeling cold and unfinished, we’ve anchored it with a runner. Then, to tie this area into the rest of the space, we added a palace runner in coordinating colors under the coffee table.

Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 4.28.17 PM.png

Go Big (Twice)

In this open floor-plan with an extra large family room off a kitchen, the homeowners wanted a space that felt cozy and could function as a TV watching space and a play room. We used two 8x10 vintage rugs in similar colors and styles to create a cozy sitting area oriented on the TV at one end, and a play area with children’s chairs and a large sideboard to store toys at the other end. Using two rugs to create zones kept this large space from feeling like a cavernous hotel lobby.


This post is getting long, so I’m going to save kitchens and bathrooms (both excellent candidates for vintage rugs!) for another day. But if you’re in the market for a mini vintage rug to use in your bathroom or kitchen, be sure to check out Zebedee and Barnaby in our online vintage shop! I hope you’re feeling empowered to add some vintage rugs to your home. And if you’ve got something particular in mind that you’d like us to source for you, give us a shout here or email