The Common Rug Struggle: What Size Area Rug You Should Buy, and The Proper Way to Position it Based on Each Room

A well-chosen area rug can do wonders for a room. It can add warmth and comfort; it can ground a conversational area; it can inspire a space’s color palette; it can set a mood or a style. However, the first step in selecting the perfect area rug is determining the best rug size for your room.

What’s the decorating goal?
Area rugs can help accomplish two main things: unifying a space or defining independent areas. If you’re uniting multiple pieces of furniture, a large area rug that fits entirely under all items creates a cohesive look. If you’re defining small areas within an open-concept space, multiple smaller area rugs should be your go-to. 

Determine the shape you want
Consider the shape of your room and all major furniture items when choosing the shape of your area rug. Round dining tables look best over round rugs. Likewise, most living room groupings feel natural when defined by a square or rectangular rug.

Visualize the rug in the room
Use masking tape, butcher paper, or even a bed sheet to visualize different sized area rugs in your space. Take a picture and let it settle before you purchase. There are many ways to determine the perfect size area rug for your room. One classic way is considering the furniture layout you would like to achieve. Below are some of the most common “rules of thumb” for area rugs. 

Living room rules
Area rugs in the living room add warmth, delineate space, and promote comfortable conversations and entertaining. They also absorb noise, which is helpful in a high-traffic room where lots of people gather. There are a few layouts to consider:

When all legs of the furniture in your room are entirely on the area rug, the space feels unified, giving disparate pieces a cohesive feel. Most of the time, you will need a larger sized area rug to achieve this look, but the size of your area rug should be determined by the size of your furniture and the room. While you can’t go wrong with this layout, it’s best for large or open-concept spaces.

With only the front legs on the rug, your area rug should be large enough that the front legs of all major pieces of furniture in a conversational grouping can be placed on top of the rug. This is another option that requires a large rug for more coverage. This option is still great for pulling a room together. Having at least the front legs of major furniture on one rug pulls those pieces together and draws the eye to the center of the room.

Dining room rules
The table and chairs should be completely on the rug, which should be a minimum of two feet wider than the table on all sides. Guests should be able to slide their chairs all the way out without catching the edge of the rug. 

Your area rug should be proportional to your table, so the size and shape of your table will determine the size of the right rug. An oversized round dining table means an extra-large round area rug. Remember when selecting this area rug that your table and chairs will cover the center of the rug, so be sure to choose a large enough rug size so that any pattern or texture will be visible at the outside edges.

Bedroom rules
Area rugs are in the bedroom add a cozy, calming appeal, especially when you step out of bed for the first time in the morning. There are a few layouts to consider. With all furniture on the rug, the area rug should be large enough that the legs of all furniture pieces are on the rug. There should be enough space for your feet land on the rug when you are getting out of bed. If you are going to have the rug only partially under the bed, the area rug will come out from under the bed and show most prominently at the foot of the bed.

Entrance and hallway rules
Area rugs in entrances help welcome guests with an obvious place to greet you and put down their belongings. An entryway area rug offers an opportunity to immediately show off the style of your home; bold or patterned area rugs are often the first thing your guests will see when they enter. A grand entrance is an ideal space to try out an oval or round area rug.

If you have furniture on both sides of an entrance or hall, find an area rug that fits right down the middle. If you only have furniture on one side of the space, consider an area rug size that best fills the negative space. Either way, furniture should traditionally stay off the rug.

Extra tips

Consider cowhides, sheepskins, or other hide rugs. It might be hard to get all or any of your furniture on them in a consistent way, but don’t worry about it. This look is less formal and traditional. Top carpet with a rug. You can layer area rugs over wall-to-wall carpet as a clever way to define a space within a space. You can also layer multiple area rugs. To unify the two, choose rugs with a common thread, such as a similar color palette or pattern.

2 thoughts on “The Common Rug Struggle: What Size Area Rug You Should Buy, and The Proper Way to Position it Based on Each Room”

  1. Always fit the largest rug you can into a room. Then you’ll never have to worry about it being too small. When it comes to rugs, the issue is ALWAYS the rug not being quite large enough. Rarely do you hear someone complain that their rug is too big.


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