The first step was measuring the current living room rug (long-since destroyed by the two cats and house-breaking two dogs). Then we went to several stores to look at rugs, see which ones we liked, and how much we could plan on spending. This activity took up many days and required a spiral search pattern starting at our house so quick trips could be made home for extra-fussiness, feeding, whatever Stephen wanted, etc. We narrowed it down to three stores and visited them more times than I'd like to admit to compare rugs, colors, and prices. Each time I got to a new store, I'd curse and realize I had just taken my camera out of the diaper bag (and my phone camera doesn't really take good pictures of 8' x 10' rugs). The inherent problem is my pickiness. I want the rug to be light enough that you can't see the dog hair (a major problem with the old one), colorful enough that it looks good, and still match the rest of the room. Stephen was consulted on each rug we saw what he thought of all these qualities. Needless to say, some crying was involved on both sides.
Rug-testing is kind of an embarrassing thing to do in a store. I stopped short of putting Stephen on it to kick around to see if he'd like them, but I feel you need to sit on the rug, walk on it shod and unshod, feel it, and be able to jump from one to the next to compare them. It's best to do this in the middle of the day when the least amount of people are at the store.
Then my mother-in-law got involved and sent me some rug suggestions she found as well (now the search spanned two states). Despite the temptation just to tell her to buy what she wanted and we'd make do, she did send me pictures. The pictures spurred yet another round of looking at rugs and deciding what we wanted, and a complete reevaluation of size (we did go with the smaller ones she suggested).
Finally, I picked on out I loved, it was light but not white. It was affordable (I fell in love with one that was small and $600, this clearly wasn't a good investment in the land of pets and babies). It had a lot of color in it, and when I went to buy it, they only had the size hanging up. This was larger than 8' x 10' and reflected accurately in the price. So, I feel back on my second choice and ended up withe a runner that goes outside the nursery too. The picture is the new rug with Tucker sleeping on it, and Seismic (one of the cats) has already begun to claw the runner.