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On my last dining room update, I shared a glimpse of the new rugs going into the room:

You long-time readers might recall the last rug in this room. Like many budget-conscious decorators, I bought what I thought was a large enough size, but wound up looking wimpy.

While budget is still an unavoidable priority for me when it comes to decorating, I’ve since learned that a 5×8 simply wasn’t going to cut it. I needed something larger (according to most design guidelines, I needed a rug big enough to allow the chairs to be pulled out and still be on the rug). Which, of course, would solve one problem (size), but present another ($$$). With larger rugs pushing to well over the $200 mark, I wanted to find something budget-friendly, but still sizable for the space.

So, I did what any similarly-minded DIYer might do:  I faked the look with less expensive materials.

rug hack how to save money on large area rugs

If you were to look online, you’ll probably find a number of these tutorials already; however, instead of using duct tape (as many of them suggest), I went with no-iron, single-sided carpet tape. The main reason for this is that carpet tape comes with a mesh-like fiber weave in it, so the tape is reinforced and doesn’t rely solely on the strength of the adhesive itself (which can sometimes be an issue when you’re trying to stick to a fabric or rubber backing). Plus, I distinctly remember from high school how effectively sticky carpet tape was for pageants (another post, another time, ha!). Most carpet tapes come double-sided, so here’s a pic of the single-sided version I purchased (so you know what to look for):

There are duct tapes made similarly, but I couldn’t find them on two separate trips when I went looking (all I could find were the colorful varieties and the ones that say they’re strong but don’t have the reinforced backing that I wanted… which have let me down in the past).

Alrighty, on to the tutorial. Some of these photos were taken at night, so you’ll also be able to see how drastically different this rug looks in different light (I just love how dark it is, though). <links may contain affiliates>

What You Need:

1. Lay out both rugs, backing-side up. Since most rugs come slightly curled if they’ve been rolled up and packaged for a while, allow it time to flatten out. This will help you keep both rugs perfectly straight along the seam. I failed to do this enough before taping things (trying to protect a new rug from dog hair will do that to ya), which is why you’ll see my lovely fiddle leaf fig sitting on one end of the seam to keep it from curling in the last couple of photos (a temporary measure until it’s had a chance to lay flat).

2. Join both rugs along the seam you want to tape. It’s best to lay it out completely and see if the corners will match up. Even though you are supposed to have a rug that’s exactly 6’5″ (or however long yours is), one may be slightly longer than the other (after all, it’s not a super expensive rug), so you’ll want to work both of them until it looks balanced on either end.

One rug was a hair shorter than the other, but you won’t really notice it by the end.

3. This project is easy enough to do on your own, but if you have help, have them force the seam together as tight as possible (even though it may seem like it’s laying as close together as possible, when you flip it over, you don’t want to see the fibers of the carpet tape peeking through). A helper ensures that both sides are pressed tightly together while you tape, but it can still be done solo. You will just need to lay down the tape in shorter lengths and keep joining the seam as you go.

4. Remove the backing from the tape and press down firmly with the tape on either side of the seam. Carpet tape is especially sticky, but can still peel it off if something goes wonky (and is sticky enough to use again, so you don’t have to start over).

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you get to the other end of your rug (pull/push the seam as tight as possible, remove the backing and tape that length of the seam, repeat). Cut off the excess. If you’re joining two 5×8 (or approximately-sized) rugs together, a single roll of tape should yield about two large rugs.

6. Flip everything over and mash the seam with your feet (this is the pro way to do it; it even says so on the box).

The two rugs I used (FERLE, from Ikea) were $29.99 each, so when adding the tape into the cost, I essentially paid about $65 for my new rug. The seam runs directly under the table and has enough clearance on all sides for the chairs when they are pulled out (and a small strip of the flooring on all sides so things look balanced), so I’m pretty happy with the result. Here’s what it looks like in the daylight, now that the table and chairs are moved in as well:

Things are still being moved around, but the pic below shows how little you can see the seam when you’re not specifically photographing it. This is one of those guests-will-likely-never-notice types of projects, which is exactly how it should be.

Looks like this room is finally looking like a dining room again, eh? A few more decorative projects (curtains, lighting, art), and we will be able to call this one done in no time.

Or about six months in Sarah time.

Kidding.

I hope.

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13 Comments

  1. Great idea! I love the pattern on the rugs you chose as well. It’s the perfect way to fake a carpet for under the dining room table. I bet hardly anyone will even notice the seam.

  2. brilliant idea, seriously why are rugs so damn expensive?? Carpet tape is great we tried the paint your concrete floors it was dreadful, a large carpet off cut is currently taped down until we have the $$$ to get floor boards. The carpet hasn’t moved in spite of my 5 kids tearing about in there.

  3. This truly is an ingenious idea!! I have wanted rugs in my apt. for years but they just cost so much. This tip is a passer on:). Also I’m going to IKEA this weekend:).

  4. I love this idea so clever!!! I’ve been looking at getting a large rug and they are just so expensive! great cost effective tip… Thank you

    1. It used to be a Garden Ridge down near me. That’s actually where I got the first rug, and I wanted something with better quality the second time around. You’re right that it’s a good place to find inexpensive rugs though.

  5. One of the most difficult things to achieve is creation of a a cost-effective decor and house interior solution that looks and feels as if the owner spared no expense in making something that they feel would genuinely represent their personality. I would say that 80% of the time (in reality – don’t ask me how I know), people start to find alternative solutions to make savings here and there… that’s what their homes look like in the end: “here and there”.

    Apart from using rugs with patterns that looked like anthill pathways, I like the idea of some “good-ol” tape to get fixes done when you forget to utilize measurements of the actual room to be worked.. Kudos! Of course if anything someone as pretty as you (or me – LoL) would probably have no need to ever worry about what other people would think of our floors when they will most probably just rather stare at our beautiful faces.

  6. Wow… that’s amazing idea.
    Looks like your room is finally looking like a dining room again. :D

  7. Nice Idea of joining single carpets into one. Apart from expense, this idea will also help in cleaning and washing of bigger rugs as it is easier to wash smaller rug then bigger.

  8. Great idea! If you are selling your house, this is a cost effective way to get your floors ready..

  9. Did you end up cutting the uneven ends of the rug, since one was slightly shorter than the other? Or did you not do anything to it? I couldn’t see it on the pictures you posted, is it noticeable?

    1. I didn’t wind up doing anything at all. I simply turned it so that the slight offset of the rug was toward the part of the room that would make it less noticeable (and cutting it would have been too much effort for me to be worth it). No one has ever noticed, and I don’t see it either!