No room for squares? If you’re feeling disenthralled by basic, boxy rugs, try a liberating alternative: an irregular-shaped rug. From round rugs to amoebic-shaped rugs, non-square floor coverings have been gaining traction as of late — and it’s easy to see why. Irregular-shaped rugs can freshen a floor plan and create compelling visual energy. If you’re inclined to shift the paradigm with one of these shapely floor coverings, but need a little encouragement to get started, read on. We’re spotlighting a bevy of beautiful rooms with misshapen contemporary rugs to serve as your decorating muse!

RELATED READ: Love Layered Rugs? Follow These Ground Rules

Southampton Residence with gray sectional and round coffee table
Deisgn by Ayromloo Design / Photo by Annie Schlechter

Echo Your Rug’s Shape

One of the most common fears when introducing an irregular modern rug is that it will make a room look off-kilter; or otherwise just generally look out of place. If a rug has a free-form shape, losing a portion of the design under furniture can also be a concern. To combat this, repeat your rug’s shape throughout your space. Designers, for instance, will often use coffee tables and side tables to echo an irregular rug’s shape. A round rug, for instance, almost always calls for a round coffee table. If your modern rug’s shape is more unique, consider choosing pillows or drapes fashioned from a fabric that features a similar shape as your rug in its pattern. The same goes for large color fields in your rug that might be cut off by furniture — repeat the color elsewhere in the room so you don’t diminish its impact. 

Tribeca Residence, Living Room Featuring Irregular-shape navy blue and turquoise Area Rug
Design by Ayromloo Design / Photo by Annie Schlechter

Border Your Rug 

When opting for a modern rug that’s not a perfect square, it can be perplexing to decide how to arrange furniture around it. Loading all of your furniture onto it can make it feel like an overcrowded island, while orbiting pieces around it can make it look unmoored. One workaround is to border two edges of your rug with an L-shaped sectional. Framing two sides with a 90-degree angle balances a non-square rug’s irregular shape and prevents the room from looking too free-form. This technique works not only with amorphic rugs, but also with circular rugs. If you’re worried about the effect skewing too rigid and losing your rug’s non-comformist essence, try placing a coffee table with a shape that mimics your rug’s shape overtop. (Doing so will give the illusion you can see the entire rug even when you can’t.)

Lavender, mauve and marigold colored dining alcove with a postmodern feel featuring a built-in banquette and an irregular-shaped rug
Design by Brockschmidt & Coleman, LLC / Photo by George Ross

Fill an Empty Space

Have a swathe of empty floorspace between a dining room and living room that feels a little too vast? Or what about a stark bay window bump-out? To remedy it, try dropping in a non-square rug as filler. Think of a rug as artwork for your floors in this scenario, and choose a piece that complements your room’s color schemes and shapes. (For even more reinforcement, try coordinating your wall art to your rug’s pattern.) Whereas a square rug will run the risk of feeling out of place stationed in the middle of an empty floor, a rug with curvature feels more special and art-like, helping the look to go off without a hitch.  

Eclectic Living Room with Danish Modern Hans Wegner chairs, Franco Albini rattan lobster pot ottoman, brown leather chesterfield sofa, and an irregular shaped beige sheepskin rug placed atop  a gray-silver silk rug
Design by Sarah Walker Design Studio / Photo by John Ellis

Layer Your Rugs

While it won’t work with every rug material, laying a smaller, irregular-shaped rug over a standard rectangular rug can provide a cozying effect. Misshapen hide rugs and cloud-shaped sheepskin rugs are particularly good candidates for this. Both have natural hide backs, which allows them to layer like blankets, rather than stack the way that rubber-backed rugs do. Since hide rugs and sheepskin rugs tend to be a good deal smaller than standard area rugs, don’t feel obligated to smack one down in the center of a rectangular area rug. Instead, place one toward one edge of your larger rug to create defined zone. This can be a particularly effective technique in larger rooms where two adjacent seating areas might be too far apart to share the same coffee table. Try laying down a hide in front of the seating area furthest from the coffee table and place a smaller side table atop it to function as a pseudo coffee table. A irregular rug can anchor it, preventing the table from looking like it’s floating in space.   

Southampton Residence, Master Bedroom Featuring Custom Canopy Bed and upholstered waterfall bed bench
Design by Ayromloo Design / Photo by Annie Schlechter

Piece Two Rugs Together 

If you love the look of his irregular cowhide rugs, but need more coverage than the standard 5 x 7 foot area that most offer, consider piecing two together to create a larger rug. Visually, the effect is arresting, creating a unique, inkblot-like shape. Keep in mind that you needn’t use professionally-finished hides for this look, either. Basic hides in their most primitive form can be cut to create unique shapes that provide the coverage you need. Consider employing this technique in rooms inspired by rustic aesthetics such as Southwestern, lodge style, or cabin style, or use it in contemporary rooms by simply selecting a solid-color hide that complements your color scheme. In a room full of square shapes, it will provide refreshing dissonance.    

Retro Palm Springs backyard with white umbrella, outdoor patio dining set, and green turf irregular shape rug
Design by Haus of Meeshie / Photo by Sequoia Emmanuelle

Take it Outside

When it comes to outdoor rugs, the quad squad is in full force. Yet most landscape designers herald curvaceous planting beds for the movement and interest they add to a yard. If you’re looking to score an outdoor rug that’s more well-rounded, so to speak, consider crafting your own from artificial turf. You can easily cut out a unique shape to add a custom element to your yard. When embedded into a rock landscape, the effect is particularly dramatic. Play up turf’s retro feel by onboarding Mid-Century Modern or Hollywood Regency outdoor furniture atop your rug.

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Lead image design by Jamie Bush + Co. / Photo by Tim Street-Porter


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May 25, 2023

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