When you’re thinking about how to pick the right size rug to decorate a room, there’s a temptation to think about the rug as an extension of your furniture. “I have a living room set, so I need a rug that is big enough to fit under all of the chairs and tables, or small enough to fit in between them.”
Think about an area rug exactly as the name implies: to define an area in your room. That means it should always be sized in relation to the space itself and how you use the room.
While furniture layout and rug size should complement each other, the furniture isn’t as important as the activity taking place in the space. Those specifics will go a long way when picking the right size rug for a room. Sitting areas will have very different rug needs than dining areas, for example. So the rug dimensions aren’t going to have the same relationship with the furniture. They need to fit with the dimensions of the room, and cover enough area to add functionality, comfort, and even luxury.
The right rug size depends on how you use the room
When selecting a rug size for your room, it’s important to consider room size and furniture configuration.
A common rule of thumb for a Living Room rug is to maintain at least 18 inches of exposed floor around the perimeter of the rug. For a standard living room, a 9’ x 12’ or 12’ x 14’ area rug will allow you to rest all furniture on the rug for a coordinated look. Larger family rooms with a wider furniture spread may require a larger size.
For smaller spaces, or if you prefer showcasing more of your flooring, you can opt for a configuration with the couches, chairs and side tables surrounding the rug with just the coffee table at the center of the rug. This calls for a smaller 5’ x 8’ or 6’ x 9’ rug.
For a less coordinated look that includes an eclectic mix of furniture, you may opt for an abstract layout that features an 8’ x 10’ rug with just the front legs of the furniture on the rug.
Large living rooms are different in that the furniture isn’t being shifted, and you likely don’t need additional rug coverage outside the general sitting area. So you might like the look of chairs overlapping onto the rug. Just make sure any tables, stools, or flat surfaces are fully on the rug, so that they stay level and stable. But you always want to select a rug that’s large enough that it doesn’t get lost in the space. A small rug in a large living room can seem more like an afterthought than an extension of the room. It’s no longer defining space; it’s being defined.
If you’re choosing a bedroom rug, leave at least 18 inches of rug on any side of the bed wherever your feet hit the floor. (You don’t have to worry about behind the headboard!)
The point of the rug is to provide a soft, warm landing spot for your feet, so the specific dimensions aren’t as important as whether your rug is big enough and positioned properly.
In a dining room, the point is partly to protect your floor and cut down noise from pushed-back chairs when people get up from the table. So make sure you’ve accounted for that — usually 18-24 inches on all sides will work. And if your table has leaves, make sure to pick a rug that accommodates the table at maximum size.
(If you don’t have a big enough rug and aren’t ready for the investment, you can also try layering two or three smaller rugs together.)
Kitchens and hallways typically have the least wide-open space, but even narrow areas can benefit from a rug. If you have a part of your kitchen that’s relatively safe from spills, a rug runner can provide added warmth, color, and comfort to hard floor surfaces. (Note that an indoor-outdoor rug can make a great choice in a kitchen, due to easy cleaning and ability to stand up to moisture.) And a kitchen table area is prime location for an appropriately sized round or square rug.
For a short overview on how to pick the right size rug for your room, read Quick Guide: How to to Choose the Right Size Rug