Tips for Using Area Rugs

An area rug is a very important unifying element in a room scheme. It can pull a room together, or if not chosen correctly, it can disrupt an otherwise harmonious design plan. The most important purpose of an area rug is that it should anchor the furniture. Aside from the aesthetics, there were some questions I had on the rules of rug placement. From reading various articles on the matter, here are a few important takeaways I will share.


~The area rug should not run all the way to the wall. Whether you are placing the rug under the furniture legs or not, you need to leave some space.

~For an attractive living room layout, an equal amount of exposed flooring around your rug will balance the room and frame the rug.

~In most rooms, leave a minimum of six inches between the end of the rug and wall. For larger spaces it is typically advised to leave 12 to 18 inches of exposed flooring.

~The rug dimensions should match the room dimensions where the longer edge of the rug runs the same direction as the longer wall of the room and the shorter edge of the rug runs the same direction as the shorter wall of the room.

~Do not butt your rug right up to the front of a piece of furniture or fireplace for example. If it can’t fit under it, the rug should sit a minimum of 4″ in front of an object.

~With an open floor plan, you should use a rug to define the space. A large rug, like a 9 x 12 or larger can work well. All the legs of your furniture should be on top of the rug if possible.

~The Rug must extend at least 6″ or more beyond the arms of your main piece of furniture.

~It is okay to just place the front legs of large furniture pieces on the area rug, but smaller furnishings should be completely on the rug when possible.

~One of the biggest mistakes is to choose a rug that is too small for the room. Only in smaller areas should you have a smaller rug. In a small sitting area for example, you can use a 4 x 6 or 5 x 8 rug in the center of the area. Your furniture is then arranged around the rug, not placed on top of it. This will to create a feeling of openness for smaller spaces.


~The first rule of dining room decor is that chairs should fit comfortably on the area rug, even in the pulled-out position. Your rug should extend from the table approximately 36 inches beyond all sides of the table (and no less than 24 inches).

~For rugs going under tables, center the rug in the middle of the table, so it sticks out equally on all sides.

~It is preferable to have the same shape rug as your your dining table. So choose a round rug if your table is round, a rectangular rug if it is a rectangle.


~In a bedroom, the common choice is to have a single large area rug underneath the bed. It should extend 18 to 24 inches from the edge. This gives you something soft and warm to step onto when you wake up.

~If you want all furniture, like nightstands on the rug, the rug will go fully under the bed.

~The second option is to have two-thirds of the bed on the rug so the rug starts just slightly in front of your nightstands. Here, the rug should also extend 18 to 24 inches on three sides of the bed.

In closing, lets not forget about rug pads. These are essential for area rugs. A good rule of thumb for choosing the right size rug pad is to leave 1 inch of rug overhang on all sides. This means that the ideal rug pad for a rug will be 2 inches shorter and narrower than the rug. And remember, it’s okay if you can’t find the exact size pad. They can easily be cut to the perfect size!

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