Inside: Take some of the guesswork out of buying the right area rug with these guidelines for the best size by room and where to place it! ➡
Size does matter and I kept telling my husband that.
Before you think I’m an oversharer, I’m talking about the perfectly good area rug that I had to have. And always hated.
It was cushy. It had all the right colors. And the price was right. Sold. As I eagerly crept home with it hanging out of the back of my SUV, I couldn’t wait to see it in the family room. But when we rolled it out, I knew it was at least a couple of feet short.
It was too perfect in every other way, so I told myself it was fine.
But it’s what I noticed first in the room. I lived with it for three years, and couldn’t wait to get rid of it the whole time (husband shakes head).
Since that time, I’ve done a lot of research. And I’ve found out the subject of choosing an area rug is confusing for so many people!
I don’t want you to have to live with a rug you hate too (plus they’re a pain to return), so I’ve taken one for the team and used that research to put together this helpful guide on how to pick the perfect rug for any space.
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Why an area rug can make or break a room.
A room without a rug is like a great outfit with no jewelry— it looks fine, but not quite as put together as it could be.
And the wrong size rug is like that outfit doesn’t fit right. Not enough coverage and it looks cheap.
Too much and your furniture looks like it’s being swallowed in dress-up clothes.
When choosing a rug, we should follow the “Goldilocks Rule”: Not too big, not too small, but just right. And in the right place.
An area rug completes a room by:
- Anchoring furniture
- Defining and tying together conversation areas, workspaces, and zones
- Providing comfort underfoot
- Adding texture, style, and pattern
- Lightening up a dark room or warming up a sterile room
Area Rug Size Guide By Room.
How to choose an area rug for the living room.
Where should I place an area rug in the living room?
- The rug in a room should anchor the seating area, instead of being centered in the room.
- When the furniture grouping is floating in the middle of a large room, orient a rectangular rug with the shape of the space.
In the living room, you can usually follow this general rule:
The rug should be large enough to have at least the front feet of all furniture in the main grouping on top of it.
What’s the right size rug for the living room?
- The rug should ideally extend 6″ to 8″ beyond the sides of the furniture, and if the furniture is all the way on the rug also 6″ to 8″ behind. The maximum extension should be around two feet, but just make sure there’s plenty of room to naturally walk around the rug to avoid tripping on it when you walk through the room.
- Leave 30″ to 36″ of walkway between large furniture pieces within the grouping if possible, or at least 18″ to 24″.
- Never float a small living room rug just under the coffee table – it cheapens the look of the whole room and can actually make it feel smaller.
The one exception to this rule is very small living rooms— then a rug in front of the furniture and only under the coffee table is okay. Try to keep the gap between the furniture and the rug no larger than 5 inches.
The typical mistake most people make is buying a rug that’s too small. This is where I went wrong with my other rug. I didn’t want to pay for the 13-foot long rug the room really needed. But I ended up paying in buyer’s remorse.😭
Rugs have gotten so much more affordable! I found this 9 x 13 rug on Amazon for less than $500, and it reaches both the chairs by the window and the sectional. It also provides the needed light between my dark floors and sofa and looks so much better! It’s an indoor/outdoor style that cleans up easily so I love it even more.
How to choose an area rug for the dining room.
What’s the right size rug for the dining room?
Take into consideration the size of the dining room table when you put in the extensions, and if possible have the rug extend at least 2 feet beyond the table with the leaves in.
The rug should be large enough to extend 2 to 3 feet beyond the table so you can comfortably pull the chairs out and the legs won’t get caught up on the edges of the rug.
But if it crowds the room or gets too close to other furniture, just size the rug to the table length you have most of the time.
How should I place an area rug under the dining table?
- The rug should be centered under the dining table, and not the room.
- Leave 2 to 3 feet of space between the walls or other dining room furniture like buffets and sideboards.
- For the most pleasing to the eye look, match the rug shape to the dining table’s shape or the room’s shape: a rectangular rug for a rectangular table or room, a round rug under a round table, and a square rug for a square table or room.
Budget-friendly choices I love under $500 for living areas and dining rooms.
How to choose an area rug for the bedroom.
What’s the right size rug for the bedroom?
One of the main benefits of having a rug in the bedroom is to have a soft place to land your feet when you get out of bed. So the rug should extend beyond the side enough to cover this area.
There are two ways to use rugs to achieve this:
- One large rug underneath and perpendicular to the bed, or
- Two runners on the sides of the bed.
A good rule of thumb to choose the right standard size area rug by bed type:
- King Sized Bed: 9×12 or 8×10
- Full or Queen Sized Bed: 8×10 or 6×9
How should I place an area rug under a bed?
- Lay the rug perpendicular, or crossways to the length of the bed under approximately the lower two-thirds. This places most of the rug out from under the bed where you need it.
- Start the top of the rug at least 6 to 12 inches in front of the nightstands.
- Make sure the rug extends beyond the foot of the bed at least twelve inches, but preferably 2 to 3 feet. If you’re using a bench at the end, have it extend a foot beyond that.
- In a large room and if your rug is large enough to lay underneath the end tables, make sure the rug extends 6 to 8 inches on the outer sides of the nightstands.
- Try to leave at least two feet between the area rug and the walls and surrounding furniture, like dressers.
- For runner rugs, place a 2×6 foot or 2×8 foot runner on each side of the bed, not extending beyond the foot.
In a child’s bedroom, you may want to go larger to allow some play space!
Affordable rugs beautiful for the bedroom.
How to choose area rugs for the kitchen.
Cleanable, durable, and washable rugs are key in this high traffic, high spill zone! Look for thin rugs you won’t trip on for walkways and always add a non slip rug pad.
How to choose area rugs for the foyer or entryway.
An area rug in the entry does double, double duty:
- Provides a place to wipe your feet before entering the rest of the house
- Adds a decor opportunity for color and pattern
- Breaks up a large expanse of bare floor
- Adds softness to tile and wood
When choosing a rug for the entryway, if possible leave a 12 to 24 inch space between the rug and the wall and a minimum of six inches from any furniture.
Since foyers are usually square or rectangular in shape, a round rug can really up the appeal of your home’s first impression. And this shape looks amazing in front of arched doors or centered under a dramatic chandelier!
Like other traffic areas, make sure the rug in the entry is not so thick you trip on it. And use a nonskid rug gripper underlay.
How to choose area rugs for the hallway.
Rug runners are a great decorating solution to make a long, boring hallway more interesting!
The rule of thumb for runners in a hallway is:
Cover at least 75 percent of the length of the hall, leaving 4 to 5 inches of bare floor on each side. If using multiple runners, leave about 6 inches in between them.
How to choose area rugs for the front porch.
A doormat is so much more nowadays than a place to wipe your feet— it’s another opportunity to decorate!
The doormat should be the same width as the door or slightly smaller.
- For a single door: 30″ x 48″ depending on door width
- For double doors: 36″ x 72″ depending on door width
Extra large estate doormats can get pricey for double doors like mine. But the layering mat trend solves this problem beautifully (literally). Laying a base area rug that can take the elements underneath the regular mat fills up the space nicely. And at the same time it adds style, gives the entrance more presence, and helps draws you in.
Some of my favorite front door layering rugs and doormats.
What size rug should I use in an office or study?
Under a desk:
- Make the rug large enough for the desk, desk chair, and guest chairs when pulled out, or
- Place the rug only under the guest chairs and front legs of the desk if you want the desk chair to remain on the floor.
To fill an expanse of bare floor in the rest of the room:
Leave at least 6 to 12 inches between the rug and the walls and surrounding furniture.
Should I use an area rug in a small room?
A rug in a small room can actually make a smaller space look larger by adding visual interest. Just make sure not to cover the entire floor— showing more wood, tile, or wall-to-wall carpet makes the floor footage seem more expansive.
How to plan out rug size and placement.
Before you go shopping, do some easy planning to estimate the size rug you need.
- With your furniture arrangement the way you want it, make an outline with masking tape or painter’s tape of where the rug should lay on the floor using the guidelines in this post.
- Use those dimensions to choose the closest size from the standard sizes of area rugs:
Standard sizes for area rugs:
- 2’ x 3’,
- 2’ x 4’
- 3’ x 5′
- 4’x 6′
- 5’ x 7’
- 5’ x 8’
- 6’ x 9’
- 8’ x 10’
- 9’ x 12’
- 10’ x 14’
- 12’ x 15’
- 11’ x 18’
- 12’ x 18’
- 12’ x 20’
- 14’ x 22’
- 15’ x 24
- 4 feet
- 5 feet
- 6 feet
- 7 feet
- 8 feet
- 9 feet
- 10 feet
2′ to 3′ wide and lengths of:
- 6 feet
- 8 feet
- 10 feet
- 12 feet
- 14 feet
If you’re in between sizes, larger is usually better.
Rug shape tips.
Rectangular rugs are most common for good reason. Most rooms and furniture groupings are oriented this way and are not symmetrical.
Think about using round rugs, square rugs, and octagonal rugs in square rooms and small spaces, or to echo the shape of a table or decorating feature.
How to make a too-small rug work.
If you have a rug that you love that doesn’t measure up to the size of the space, here are some solutions:
- Layer the smaller rug on top of a base rug that’s the right size. The bottom rug should be a plain, natural texture that won’t clash or compete with the top one, like a jute rug.
- Extend a conversation area with an accent area rug on the end, like an animal hide.
When is an area rug too large for a room?
Yes, you can go too big. If the rug runs too close to the wall, it will look like you made an “oopsy” measuring for wall to wall carpet and you didn’t have quite enough.
Aim to keep 10 to 24 inches of space between the rug and the walls.
Rug materials and care.
For most of us, gone are the days of the expensive, investment piece rug— you know, the ones that sit in a formal living room and you’re not allowed to eat or drink on.
Area rugs are not only for looks, but they have to stand up to real life!
For high-traffic, spill-prone areas like the family room, kitchen, dining room, entryway, and hallways, opt for:
- A low pile or flatweave rug that you won’t trip over
- A color and pattern that’s forgiving to dirt
- One of the many new selections in highly cleanable or even washable rugs
For bedrooms, you can go for thicker, more plush area rugs that will have you starting your day off on the right foot when it lands on a soft, cushy rug.
Because I love this lil’ nugget so much I’ve had to figure out how to successfully keep an area rug in the family room. This rug gets a regular once over with a urine detector flashlight, and spot cleaning with my favorite Folex carpet cleaner. And about once a month a quick clean with my Bissell ProHeat Clean Pet Carpet Cleaner.
Budget-friendly washable rugs.
I’m definitely going to experiment with my first washable rug soon in the living room. Here are some lovely, affordable choices I’ve come across in the hunt:
Free printable guide.
I’ve condensed most of these guidelines into a one sheet printable if you’d like to keep it pinned in your Pinterest resources or in a file. Make sure to grab it from the “subscriber only” library in the footer menu!
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I hope this guide helps you choose the right rug size for your room and avoid the same buyer’s remorse that I lived with for too long.
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