What Color Rug Goes With Hardwood Floors?

Most people agree that hardwood floors offer an elegance that makes them preferable to carpet. Still, there's something about the design benefits and warmth provided by rugs that compels us to add them to our homes anyway. Of course, adding the right one is a matter of coordinating style, material, and color. We've researched the best color pairings for rugs with hardwood floors.

The best color rug for your home depends on the wash of your hardwood floor. Some of the best combinations for light hardwood floors are rugs with earthy and jewel tones. For dark hardwood floors, use neutral colors like beige or grey and pastels.

As you can see from the list, contrast is the name of the game. Naturally, though, it's a little more complicated than simply slapping a complimentary colored rug on your hardwood floor. Please keep reading and we'll help you select the right rug for your home and style.

Classic retro living room with hardwood flooring, brown striped sofas, and a white patterned rug

Light Hardwood Floors

Light woods from blonde to grey will look washed out if you pair them with cream or grey rugs. Even the color black, though it provides contrast, can be too overpowering if you get a rug featuring too much. Consider the room below, for example.

Contemporary living room with a square arm sofa, hardwood flooring, and a center accent chair inside a green wall living room

The color of the rug closely resembles that of the wood grain, leaving the eye underwhelmed. There's barely any visual distinction setting the sitting area apart from the rest of the room—one of the primary benefits of adding an area rug to decor. To learn about other benefits, you can visit our post about adding an area rug to hardwood floors.

Earth Tones

Earth tones offer an alternative to neutral colors. They can often evoke the same subtle, elegant vibes as grey or ivory without the worry that the overall effect will be dull. Think of colors like pine green, sky or slate blue, lilac, and even warm browns. Having trouble picturing it? Just take a look at this room

Modern contemporary living room with a blue accent wall, laminated flooring, and a gray sleeper couch

In addition to looking perfect in modern style homes, like the one featured above, these are the perfect color combinations in rustic decor. The natural look of wood floors paired with colors found in nature is a simple and perfect way to bring the great outdoors's freshness to your interior design.

Consider something like this for your own home if you enjoy a good pattern.

Learn more on Amazon.

If you desire something simpler, try this piece on for size.

Click here to see more on Amazon.

Jewel Tones

As their name suggests, jewel tones are meant to resemble gemstones. Ruby reds, amethyst purples, and sapphire blues are just some of the options to consider if you want this look in your home.

A piece like this is sure to draw attention contrasted against any light wood floor.

Get it on Amazon.

Breaking the Rules

Of course, it is entirely possible to pair a light wood floor with a neutral colored rug. It simply takes a bit of finessing. For example, take a look at the room below. You'll notice how adding a rug the same color as the wood serves to make the yellow accents pop.

Mixed contemporary and retro styled living room with white walls, white square arm sofa, black hanging lamps, and a white divider

If you want to achieve this look at home, you'll want to pick a vibrant, eye-catching color as your accent. Yellow works well, obviously, but cerulean and hot pink are used to similar effects. Just note that this sort of look is most compatible with a modern or retro design style.

Dark Hardwood Floors

Since dark wood has gravitas and depth all on its own, you don't have to worry about overwhelming it. However, you should try not to overpower dark wood stains with equally dark colors or obnoxious patterns.

Neutral Colors

Since it's light wood's opposite, it makes sense that neutral colors pair well with this flooring. Whites, greys, browns, and every shade on the spectrum between these colors is fair game. This living room is the perfect example. See how the cream-colored rug brings out the wood's rich brown and makes for an overall gracious aesthetic.

A spacious hardwood flooring living room with a gray mantel fireplace, gray walls, and a colored sofa

To achieve the look in your own home, consider something like this. It is both a similar shade and texture as the rug from the example, making it ideal for classic homes.

Get a closer look on Amazon.

Since neutral colors don't demand too much from the eye, they're also the perfect place to introduce a pattern. Consider this living room. The rug features two neutral colors and a simple pattern, giving the piece a bit of depth without having the overall effect become overwhelming.

Classic retro living room with hardwood flooring, brown striped sofas, and a white patterned rug

Get a similar look in your home with a rug like this one.

Available on Amazon.


For similar reasons that neutrals work, pastel colors go well with dark wood floors. They provide the same kind of unassuming contrast to dark wood's demand for attention, and they simply have a little more whimsy than neutral colors. Think of robin's egg blue, blush pink, and lemon yellow.

To decorate an understated yet modern home, go with something like this.

Learn more on Amazon.

Or you can harness the power of bohemian decor with this rug.

Find out more on Amazon.

Will Rubber-Backed Rugs Damage Hardwood Floors?

Now that you have a vision in mind, you'll want to make sure your execution doesn't damage the natural gleam and elegance of your hardwood flooring. This means no rubber-backed rugs. The chemicals found in the backing can permanently discolor hardwood. Over time, it can also stick to the wood, leaving behind a residue as it's removed.

What Rugs Are Safe for Hardwood Floors?

Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives to rugs with rubber backs. In fact, anything with natural fibers works well. Materials like wool and cotton are widely-available and often complement the look of hardwood perfectly.

Should A Rug Pad be The Same Size As The Rug?

Even though you'll want to avoid rubber backing, you still want to stop your rug from sliding around on the floor. That's where rug pads come in. Since they're an eyesore, you don't want your guests to see these helpful pads, which means you want them to be slightly smaller than your rug. However, they shouldn't be so small to not perform their essential duties.

To find the appropriate measurements, subtract half an inch from both the length and width of your rug dimensions. Following this rule, this rug pad works well for most area rugs.

Find it on Amazon.

Further Reading

Now that your rugs are in order, you'll be ready to put the finishing touches on your decor. No matter what room you're decorating, this means picking out accent pieces. Check out our piece on coordinating your accent pillows with your rug. While it's specific to the living room, the guiding principals work well when it comes to any accent piece.

Happy decorating!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *