how to: make a really cheap area rug

I’ve been on the hunt for an area rug for my dining room. It’s been a little tricky, because I use that room to do a lot of food prep and craft projects, so I knew I didn’t want a rug that was too precious, because spills would definitely be happening. Crumbs would be falling, Jello would be splattering, hot glue would be dripping… you get the picture.

My two main plans were to get some Flor tiles or to have a piece of basic carpet cut and bound from a carpet seller. (I also needed a hallway runner and was planning to probably have one made from the same carpet as the dining room.) So anyway, as I shopped around, I found that it was going to be hard to find anything, even something basic and “cheap” for less than $500. Just as I was resigning myself to saving up for a carpet that I would probably end up ruining anyway, I found this at Home Depot:

Industrial-type runner carpet on a roll, meant to be used in hallways and lobbies of buildings I guess. You know, the really ugly stuff. My eyes usually gloss right over this but somehow this time I stopped to look at it, and I realized it was really quite nice in a way–the perfect shade of grey with a texture that was reminiscent of wool felt. It made me think of these patterns from Flor:

But, while the Flor options would set me back $500-600 for the size I needed, I could get this generic grey runner for the bargain price of $1.99 per foot!

So I snapped up 35 feet and hightailed it out of there.

Once home, I simply cut the carpet to the lengths I needed, which was very easy to do using a straight edge and a box cutter, with a piece of masking tape to mark the correct spot to cut. (And of course, something underneath the carpet–in my case, my fabric-cutting mat–to protect the floors.) The carpet cut very easily and neatly. It has a rubber backing so it cuts in a very clean line that doesn’t even really need a binding or edging.

Then I placed all three strips together and attached them with Ye Olde Duck Tape on the underside. Done and done!

How about that?? It probably took 20 minutes to assemble, and now I have a nice little area rug that, surprisingly, I really love. The joins between the strips are somewhat visible, but I’m thinking they may flatten after the rug gets walked on for a while, or I may come up with a crafty treatment to embellish and/or hide the joins, or I may decide that I just don’t care.

Because this rug was so cheap, I really don’t mind that it’s not perfect–and I love that I can feel free to spill melted chocolate all over it with impunity. Grand total was $70 for both this area rug in the dining room and a runner for the hallway. I think that’s a great bargain! Rugs are expensive out there!

And, I don’t know, I just think it looks so much prettier than I would have expected. The lines make a nice thick-and-thin stripe pattern that’s very modern, I think. Also, this would be so easy to customize or craft-i-tize in a million ways. I can imagine putting a binding or border around the edges with anything from fabric to duck tape. (Neon pink duck tape perhaps?! I just might have to try that!) I could also imagine cutting these carpet strips into smaller pieces, like squares or even triangles, and piecing them back together with the carpet’s texture going in different directions. Or cutting the carpet into narrow strips and weaving them together. I bet you could paint or stencil this stuff too. So many possibilities!

I’m still kind of amazed how a random stroll through Home Depot, industrial carpet strips, and duck tape could add up to something so pleasing. The dining room is really starting to come together… curtains are up next!

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  • jen

    this is brilliant. i have been looking for a good rug to put in our new family room (concrete floors) and thought I would have to wait until i could save up for FLOR tiles. this will hold up to my rowdy dogs and will also be the perfect color of gray. thanks for the idea!

  • sherry

    I like that! I need a rug for my screen porch and this would be just the ticket. I hope they have something in brown or tan…..

  • Peaches

    Genius idea! I’ll have to remember that one. High five!

  • AnnaPK

    This is a great idea, thank you for sharing it!

    Last week my kids and I looked at the pictures of Fifi’s birthday, which the kids thought were great! A few days later we happened by PBS when Knit and Crochet was on. My 5 year old was super impressed! :)

  • beverly pettengill aka Grammy

    this is totally cool you are so crafty….

  • beverly pettengill aka Grammy

    Oh and it looks great……

  • tina

    What a wonderful idea and outcome! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Mel Vo

    I may have to steal this idea! I covet Flor carpet tiles but just don’t have the budget for it. And even if I did our large shedding dog is huge deterant since it will look less than great in no time flat. This is the perfect solution and I bet if you cut them into squares no one will know the difference!

  • Jessibee

    Oh Em Gee. Love. You are such a smarty pants!

  • MF

    This is genius! You have a great eye – I’d never have been able to see this potential whilst browsing in Home Depot – taping the carpet together gives it a nice cabled look!

  • Tina C.

    awesome idea. i too wanted flor but have been putting that off for years. how shall i anticipate for an expandable table though??

  • Rose

    Way to go Brett! It looks perfect for your room! It is exciting to think of the possibilities…r

  • Julie

    Great! That was a very clever solution and I like the pattern they created.

  • Caribou

    I’m wondering if you wanted to take the extra time, you could cut squares and lay them in alternating directions, I think it would look something like the Flor tiles.

  • maria

    i’d love to know where you got the lucite dining chairs. so awesome. I’d love to have one for my vanity.

    • Brett

      h! They’re Calligaris. :)

  • James Bond Bond

    You have done really a superb job with your web site. Marvelous stuff is here to read.

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  • aleena rose

    I don’t think
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  • Prom Naroola

    Great post! I will definitely keep this in mind when rug shopping! Thanks!

    Discount Area Rugs

  • DawnAlison

    What you could do is also get some fabric, Idk, I’m only twelve so what do I know? But, maybe you could, don’t know.

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