Of course it's okay to put an area rug on a carpet! One reason is for aesthetics. Area rugs can bring in complementary colors to make your decor more cohesive. But there are practical reasons too. An area rug on top of a carpet covers up and protects worn down rug fibers. Area rugs can give more comfort to bare feet and help to muffle or reduce noise.
Options for Placing an Area Rug Over a Carpet
At best, look for a heavy area rug to place over a carpet. If the area rug is too light, it will move around and pucker where furniture legs are on it. However, if you fall in love with just the "right" area rug that is light weight, purchase a rug pad (see below).
Here are two examples of area rugs on carpet I have in my apartment. This first one is a Karastan oriental area rug I've had well over 10 years. It's short wool fibers are so much more comfortable on bare feet than the carpet in the apartment. It has survived three long-haired dogs and still looks good.
At the old house, I had it in the library on top of a carpet and had the T.V. stand on it near the edge. Drove me crazy because it would always pucker and move. In my apartment, I have a leather sofa on it and it works beautifully over the boring apartment beige carpet.
In this second example, on top of the apartment carpet, I actually layered a wool sisal area rug over it and on top of that I added a Greek flokati shag rug. The wool sisal is stiff and doesn't move but you can see that there is still some puckering where the ottoman legs are on it.
Some things you just have to live with and I decided this is one of them. I much prefer the soft wool of the sisal on bare feet. And too, I really love the layering and textures that add interest to my very neutral decor scheme. Texture and shades of color are critical for interest to a neutral decor.
Use a Pad Under the Area Rug
A carpet pad will keep the area rug in place, as well as eliminate or at least reduce the puckering. Get a good one. The best I've seen so far is the the Durahold No-Muv pad. It is not inexpensive but well worth the cost, particularly for a cherished antique oriental rug. I've tried a less expensive one. It worked well on the hardwood floor but not on a rug-on-carpet. And no, I haven't tried the Durahold. I'm basing my suggestion on having talked to a family owned oriental rug sales person where I have my rugs cleaned. I've come to trust their service and products.
Need Some Inspiration?
I'll state it again, of course you can put an area rug on a carpet! For practical reasons such as comfort and hiding worn areas, it a great solution. But I must admit, I simply love the idea of the pop of color and added texture area rugs bring to an otherwise tired apartment decor. Remember, you can take it with you too!
Where would you put an area rug in your apartment? Or would you?