Decorating & Design

August 7, 2015

What Size Should My Area Rug Be?

Rugs add comfort and visual interest to a space, and help unify its furnishings. But before you buy, beware: this is one area of decorating where size and placement really matter. Follow these guidelines to ensure that your rugs make the most impact.

Note: If your rug doesn’t reach under all the furniture in your room’s central area, it’s too small.

In a standard living or family room:

How To Choose The Right Rug

A rug should be proportional to a room’s floor space. Ideally, it should leave an equal amount of floor bare all around it, such as two feet beyond the carpet on all sides. This applies regardless of obstacles like fireplace hearths, radiators and furniture set against the wall.

If you can’t achieve this, an alternative is to place your rug so that it reaches under all or most of the furniture in the central area of your room to unify the seating arrangement. However, it isn’t essential that the back legs of sofas or chairs sit on the carpet.

There shouldn’t be more than two feet of empty rug beyond the furniture. If, when a seating arrangement is in place, there is more than two feet of rug behind a sofa or chair, set a table there to fill the empty space.

In a dining area in a larger room:

How To Choose The Right Rug Size

If your dining area is part of a larger room – perhaps it’s a large breakfast room within a kitchen- its rug should extend beyond the edges of the table by 18 to 24 inches on each side. Ideally, the chairs should sit on the rug even when pulled away from the table.

In a combined living/dining room:

The same rules for sizing and placement apply to rugs in open-concept or dual- function spaces, where two rugs are used to define distinct spaces, perhaps a living area and a dining area. Follow the rules for living and dining areas; just be sure that there is some space between the two rugs.

In a bedroom:

How To Choose The Right Rug

Use the same rule as in a living room: choose a rug that leaves approximately two feet of bare floor at the edges. However, if your bed is not centered in the room (and this is often the case), centering the rug under the bed could look awkward. As an alternative, use two or three smaller rugs in the bedroom – one on each side of the bed, and perhaps a third at the end of the bed- instead of one large rug.


1. Colin Way, House & Home March 2013; 2. Michael Graydon, House & Home December 2013; 3. Angus Fergusson, House & Home July 2013


House & Home Decorating 101


3. Holly Meighen


1. Nam Dang-Mitchell; 2. Tommy Smythe, Lindsey Levy and Lindsay Mens Craig, Sarah Richardson Design