Find the Perfect Mid-Century Modern Area Rug for Your Living Room

Committing to a mid-century modern area rug is tough. This 80+ square feet of floor covering can make or break your living room.

And what does a mid-century area rug even look like? Is it bright and loud? Bursting with retro shapes? Or more neutral?

It can be any of the above. Here are the typical rug styles from the ’50s and ’60s, along with some tips to help you find the perfect rug for you.

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Popular Mid-Century Modern Rug Styles

To start your search, it helps to browse pictures of mid-century modern living rooms and figure out which rug styles you like. Try these search terms.

  • Mid-century modern living rooms: See the area rugs people are choosing nowadays for MCM homes.
  • 1950s living rooms: Check out the fun rug choices people made back in the ’50s.
  • 1960s living rooms: Feast your eyes on living room rugs from the ’60s. More colorful, more mod, and my favorite decade for design.
  • Mad Men sets: When all else fails, check Mad Men. They did their research and used lots of stylish rugs.

Some mid-century enthusiasts opt for funky geometric rugs with mod shapes, while some mix in traditional rugs from past eras.

But the most common choice seems to be solid color rugs, from neutral to bold and low-pile to shag.

Cat on modern area rug in colorful living room
Spoiler: I went with bold and shag.

Mid-Century Modern Area Rugs

Check out these favorite modern rugs to see if you can find the one for your living room.

Modern Geometric Rugs

Get graphic with a geometric rug. Look for boomerangs, semi-circles, rounded squares or other retro shapes like this curvy starburst rug.

With strong patterns and colors, it helps to keep your furniture on the neutral side and add a few throw pillows to tie in the rug colors.

Colorful mid-century modern geometric rug
Modern black and white geometric area rug
Aqua area rug with modern starburst/sunray shapes

Solid Low-Pile Area Rugs

Solid color area rugs are a safe bet for modern style. Many people choose neutral gray or beige colors, which can easily transition through different seasons and decor styles.

For retro mod vibes, you might go for a bold mid-century color, like yellow, orange, turquoise or pink.

Some solid color rugs are very affordable, so it’s not too big of a risk to try a fun color.

Orange round area rug with modern style
Yellow low-pile area rug
Neutral gray solid area rug

Traditional Area Rugs

While I lean toward ultra modern, the mid-century era didn’t exist in a bubble.

A lot of MCM living rooms combine modern and traditional decor from past decades.

To pull it off, find a distressed oriental rug with hints of your room colors. Then surround it with modern furniture like a gunlock sofa or leather Eames lounger.

Distressed oriental area rug with rust colors
Distressed gray area rug

Karen at Decor Hint has a helpful guide for finding authentic vintage rugs.

Modern Shag Rugs

Want to go full mid-mod ’60s? Bring on the shag rugs with a range of pattern and color options.

Cat relaxing on modern turquoise area rug

Related: Find a gorgeous mid-century modern coffee table

If you choose a brightly colored rug like mine, you might want to add coordinating accessories throughout the room so it feels cohesive. I have turquoise throw pillows, planters, coffee table books and an ottoman pouf.

Retro modern green shag area rug
Diamond trellis modern shag area rug
Mod turquoise shag area rug
Dark gray shag area rug

Choosing Your Area Rug

An area rug can transform the look of your living room…hopefully for the better. Keep these tips in mind before you commit.

How Big Should Your Living Room Rug Be?

The general guideline is to choose a rug about two feet wider than your sofa (a foot wider on each side). This gives you room for a loveseat or lounge chair with the front legs of the furniture on the rug.

You can also extend your rug beyond that, with all the furniture legs on the rug. That works well for larger rooms.

Mid-century modern living room with turquoise shag area rug

Related: Find affordable mid-century style planters

Since I paired a bright turquoise rug with a bright orange couch, I kept my rug on the smaller side at 8×10 feet. That way I have more exposed hardwoods to balance the explosion of color.

I don’t like the sound of rug sizing “rules,” but they can be really helpful when you’re trying to find the best rug size for your living room.

You might want to look through Emily Henderson’s rug sizing formulas. And get out the tape measure to check how different rug sizes will look in your living room.

Does Your Rug Need to Be Kid and Pet Friendly?

Modern white and ivory rugs are trending, and yes, they look pretty. But that look probably won’t last with pets or kids around the house.

Especially the clawed ones.

Gray cat relaxing on modern shag rug

Jane and Charlie (and their claws) can’t get enough of this sea of turquoise.

Luckily shag rugs hide wear and tear very well. So ultimately I went to the dark and shaggy side.

How Often Do You Change Your Decor?

Do you swap out your throw pillows and accessories each season? Do you have different color palettes for spring and fall?

If you’re big on seasonal decor, you probably want to stick with a neutral rug. That way you can switch from pumpkins to Santas to spring florals with ease.

However, as someone with an orange and turquoise color palette, I can tell you there are workarounds. Instead of a red and green Christmas I just go full rainbow.

And the pumpkins are never a problem.


Can’t decide? Luckily there are a lot of affordable area rugs, and you can always swap rugs between rooms until you get it right. It might be worth taking a risk to try a mid-mod color or pattern you love.

Up next, check out these decor ideas to style your living room.


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4 thoughts on “Find the Perfect Mid-Century Modern Area Rug for Your Living Room”

  1. I am lovin’ your choice of the turquoise rug with your furniture! Your accessories bring it all together! I see that Jane and Charlie give it a “paws up”!! I feel like I stepped back in time to my younger years….it looks great Tara!! (Your mid-century home has totally came together over these 7 years of love and hard work.)

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  2. Tara, Love the turquoise rug! That black and white rug with the circle detail has a real 1977 Star Wars feel to it. I may have to order one, to please my inner geek.

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