Now more than ever, design is demanding. It needs to perform as well as it looks. That’s certainly the case when it comes to kid- and pet-friendly rugs—a hallmark of any good family-friendly design. Here, three experts weigh in on their favorites, including what materials to look for, what patterns are on-trend, and what colors will make your spaces seamless.
For Jenna Buck Gross, head designer of Colordrunk Designs, knowing the ins and outs of family-friendly design is second nature: She’s a mom of three herself. She deeply empathizes with her clients who want to achieve a well-designed look that needs to function with family life. “About 90% of my clients have kids, a dog, or a messy significant other—ha!” she says. “Different households have different needs, with materials that are easy to clean at the top of the list.”
The options for kid- and pet-friendly rugs have come a long way, says Susan Currie, principal interior designer at Susan Currie Design. “Sometimes, I even find it difficult to tell the difference between a luxurious natural fiber and a more durable, synthetic material,” she says. Here’s what you need to know when choosing the rugs that will be lived in by your loved ones.
See also: 9 Designer Favorite Artisan-Made Rugs
Materials Make it Easy
Cassandra Buckalew, principal of Cassandra Buckalew Interiors, looks to synthetic fibers like recycled PET, polyester, and polypropylene first when considering kid- and pet-friendly rugs. But she also considers wool for its natural stain resistance. “It should be noted that a hand-knotted wool rug is extremely durable and can last generations,” she says, noting she always discusses the cost and lifespan of a rug with her clients. Currie guides her clients to select rugs made with nylon or polypropylene. “The solution-dying process helps ensure that cleaning products won’t pull the color [out of the rug],” she says.
Kid Friendly Rugs
For Buck Gross, it’s not just about pure durability and longevity, although wear and tear is important. “Kids really need softer piles that are easy on their knees when playing,” she says. (Not to mention for the grownups who might be down on the floor with them.)
Currie takes a slightly different approach: “Kids are a lot to handle. Your focus should be on them—not on what’s underfoot,” she says. By using kid-friendly rugs, it can change your perspective, she explains. “It’s freeing to know that if something spills on your rug, you can blot it up and won’t need to take the rug to a specialty cleaner,” she says. “A rug can also be a big investment. I want my clients to choose something that will last and look great for a long time, regardless of the spilled juice, accidents, and dirty boots it might face.”
See also: 8 Questions On The Truth About Textiles
Pet Friendly Rugs
For pets, Buck Gross says softness isn’t so much at play as durability. “I’ve learned that looped pile carpets are really poor choices for areas with heavy pet traffic because dog nails especially can get stuck—potentially injuring the dog and damaging the carpet.” Buckalew recommends avoiding rugs with fringe if you have pets—dogs especially love playing with fringe, she says.
Weave is really important to Buckalew when it comes to pet-friendly rugs. “We consider it more than pattern,” she says. “Flat weaves and low piles are excellent for pets.” Currie suggests considering the materials when it comes to not only high-traffic areas, but also cleaning up, saying, “As fantastic as wool is pet urine will burn the fibers.”
For a one-two punch, Buck Gross recommends going with indoor/outdoor rugs. “They’re usually made of polyester or polypropylene, which is easy to clean and very durable,” she says. “You can even take some of them outside and hose them off.” She cautions that homes with little knees might not find them as soft as natural fibers, but there’s a trade off for the space.
As for what not to consider? Buckalew says that viscose and silk aren’t completely off-limits, but that you should consider them very carefully around kids and pets. “We don’t use any rugs with higher than 50% viscose content, and we don’t use them in high traffic areas,” she says, noting the same is similar for silk.
See also: The Guide: 5 Steps To Easy Rug Cleaning
Where to Wear
Kid- and pet-friendly rugs are certainly most at home in high-traffic areas, such as hallways, kitchens, and living rooms, plus play spaces. But Buck Gross says not to limit yourself—she even puts them in bathrooms sometimes. “Basically, anywhere there might be spills,” she says.
Currie likes them in entryways, family rooms, and children’s bedrooms. “These rooms have the highest concentration of dirty shoes and quality kid time.”
Buckalew notes that wear and tear are important to consider, but ultimately it’s peace of mind her clients are after. “People want high performance products that can stand up to a fast-paced, busy lifestyle, where precious things aren’t going to be ruined by daily living.”
Color and Pattern at Play
Currie loves how forgiving patterns can be. “A multicolored pattern rug can help hide crumbs or dirt that get tracked in with pets and shoes,” she says, noting that they’re especially good for stair runners.
Her trick? “Rather than a central design element, we will often use rugs that have repeating patterns. This way you can turn them, change the furniture layout, or put them on angles without the rug looking off center or unbalanced,” she says.
Rugs don’t have to be plain to mask dirt either. Buck Gross, whose signature style includes loads of color, always leans toward bright and patterned. “Bright is great for kids’ areas for a few reasons,” she says. “It helps lift the mood and inspire creativity, while patterns hide tough spills and stains.”
Buck Gross’ Favorites
1. “Brevin is simple and soft and can be used in any space.”
2. “Nirvana gives you the natural look of sisal without any of the worry.”
3. “Chateau has such a fun print and a soft pile. Plus, it’s easy to clean.”
1. “The handwoven Santa Barbara is textured and brings warmth to any room.”
2. “The Decora area rug by Nikki Chu can bring geometry to any indoor or outdoor space.”
3. “The juxtaposition of serene hues and industrial style makes the Ferris collection forward and innovative.”
1. “The rich indigo of Revelry has depth that reminds me of architectural blueprints. The small-scale, geometric pattern is extremely versatile and perfect for a high-traffic hallway.”
2. “The retro-modern design of Rhythmik is sophisticated fun. The softness afforded by its loomed construction is important for little ones who spend much of their time on the floor.”
3. “The vibrant colors combined with the distressed effect on Harman are excellent for masking wear and tear. Because there is not a central medallion but rather a repeating pattern throughout, this rug offers maximum flexibility for your furniture layout… or if you need to turn the rug because one of your furry children has chewed on an exposed edge.”