How to Choose the Right Size Rug

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Learning how to choose the right size rug for your home can be tricky. Picking the correct size is just as important as picking a great rug material and selecting the best color or pattern for your home. Because this can be tricky to get right, I wanted to share this guide to choosing the right size rug for your living room and answer the following common questions we get from our interior design clients:

How big of an area rug should I get?

How big should a rug under my sectional sofa be?

What size rug is good for my living room?

How do I choose the right rug size for my bedroom?

Should my rug be centered under the furniture?

How much room should there be around the edges of a rug?

When I hear a question like one of the above, here is how I break down their design problem:

1. Determine the Size of Your Room

THE SIMPLE ROOM

For many rooms, this is as simple as measuring the four walls. If you have a  bedroom, living room, or dining room like the image above, you will have an easier job finding the right size rug.  

OPEN FLOOR PLAN

With these types of spaces, you want to create “zones” within the entire space. In the photo above, we created zones for the Dining Room and  Living Room.

2. Choose the Right Size Rug

Now that we have a basic drawing of your room and the main “zone” defined for your furniture, it’s time to start choosing the proper rug size for your living room.

To keep things simple, I recommend starting off by using this rug sizing chart.

3. Determine the Best Layout

Now that you have an area rug size in mind, we need to test to make sure that it fits the space and your furniture properly.  When placing furniture on an area rug, there are a few rules or recommendations that you can follow to make it look the best.

OPTION 1: ALL FURNITURE ON THE RUG

In larger rooms that can support a large area rug, placing all of the furniture on the rug is an elegant way to define the space. Here are a few points to consider for this type of layout:

  • Great for large rooms.
  • All pieces of furniture should fit on the rug without feeling cramped.
  • If the rug covers the entire space, make sure you have around 6” – 18” of the hardwood floor show. Having a smaller perimeter of flooring showing is more “modern”, a larger perimeter gives a more traditional feel.
  • If you can’t fit all of the pieces on the rug, chances are you should go with a smaller rug and use one of the following design strategies.

OPTION 2: FRONT LEGS OF THE FURNITURE ON THE RUG

If you were able to rule out that all of the pieces won’t fit entirely on the rug, a blended approach may work well for your home. Try using a slightly smaller rug that allows some or all of the pieces to have their front legs on the rug. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Works for large rooms and medium-sized rooms
  • Great for living rooms with the main seating area along a wall.
  • Aim to get at least 2 legs of the furniture on the edges of the rug. Ideally, half of the piece of furniture should be over the rug.
  • Make sure that the furniture doesn’t rock or is uneven. This makes sitting in the chair or on the sofa uncomfortable and can make tables wobbly.
  • Not a great choice for rocking chairs or seating that needs to move frequently like desk chairs or dining room chairs.
  • Some pieces may be fully on the rug, while others may only have the front legs on the rug. Mixing and matching are okay.

OPTION 3: ALL OF THE FURNITURE IS OFF THE RUG

If the above two methods didn’t work for your home, try going with a smaller rug and have all of the pieces of furniture off of the rug. Here are some things to keep in mind with this design layout:

  • Great for small spaces.
  • Watch out for trip hazards in high-traffic areas.
  • Smaller rugs in this configuration tend to move around. Make sure you use a non-slip rug pad to keep the rug in its place.
  • Consider irregular-shaped floor coverings like Cow Hides (we love the Ikea Koldby Cow Hide Rug), they look great in this configuration.

Other Tips
Now that you have the ideal rug size selected and drawn out on your floor plan, here are some other tips:

Tape Out the Space – it’s time to grab some masking tape and mark off the space. Ideally, you would tape the entire area of the rug so you have a feel for how the new rug will scale within the space.

Test it Out – Live with the taped-off space for a few days to see how you feel about it within your daily life.

Vacuuming – Test that you can vacuum all edges of the rug easily. This is a top consideration in my life since I have a dog that sheds 24/7, 365 days a year.

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