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Choosing the Right Rug Size: Dos and Don'ts

Deconstructing the answer for the number-one most-asked question about rug size—by room.



When purchasing a rug for your space, one of the most-asked questions is about size. There is a constant battle on whether the furniture should be all on, half on, and or not at all on the rug. The truth is: The matter isn’t always black and white with one right or wrong solution. There are some key dos and don’ts, but a good portion of the answer is dependent on your space and your personal preference. Here we will outline tips and tricks—by room—for main living areas to get you to a resolution that is suited for your space.

General dos and don'ts

Don’t take the rug to the edges of the room.  You want to have some space in between the wall and the rug.

Don’t create a postage stamp underneath certain furniture—like your dining table, coffee table, or bed. Your rug should be seen and used.

Don’t create tripping hazards or awkward walking spaces. When walking through a space, your feet should never be half on a rug and half on the floor.  That creates an uneven path and a safety hazard. There should always be a wide-enough walkway where you are walking fully on the rug or fully on the other flooring surface. 

Do check all your door clearances and measure before deciding on the size of your rug. If your doors are lower to the ground or have door seals, then they will not make it over the height of the rug when opening and closing. You will have to accommodate this issue by either making your rug smaller so that the door has a clear path for opening and closing, or trimming down the height of the doors to accommodate for the height of the rug.

Living/dining room dos and don’ts

Don’t have tables or chairs half on the rug if it causes the furniture to be unstable or creates a noticeable slope. If your chair is on castors or wheels, it needs to be fully on the rug. If your rug has a high pile, there will be a noticeable slope with legs half-on, leading to instability; furniture will need to be fully on the rug.

Don’t use a rug size that makes your space feel smaller. Many people make this mistake as they may be trying to “just fit” the furniture on it, or they are concerned with budget, so they purchase a smaller rug to save money. In many of today’s interiors, we have large open rooms with expansive floor area. If you get all your furniture on the rug and there is a large void around the setting, it can suck you into that area creating the illusion that the space is smaller than it really is. You want to make sure there is proper scale to the room and that it isn't heavy to one side or the other. Selecting the right size of rug will help to expand the space, not constrict it.   

Do leave a little space behind the furnishings that are not against a wall, if your furniture is fully on the rug. You don’t want all items right up to the edge of the rug.

Do make sure your rug goes almost halfway under the piece of furniture, if your furniture is partially on the rug. If it barely goes under the furniture piece, it will feel disconnected from the rug. 

Do make sure you have 24 - 30 inches of space to pull your dining chairs away from your dining table without falling off the rug.

Bedroom dos and don'ts

Don’t hide your rug under your bed. The point of a rug in a bedroom is not only for aesthetic purposes, but also to have softness under your feet when you get out of bed. You need a minimum of 15 inches to ensure your feet land on the rug depending on your height and foot size. Do a test run on where your feet land when you get out of bed to determine the minimum space required. 

Rules for nightstands vary depending on the style of the night stand and the layout of the room. 

  • The general rule is that the rug should span the width of the bed and both night stands. The only time to not follow this rule is if there are door clearance issues.  If you must stop short, at least come to the center of each nightstand and then do not put the night stands on the rug. Instead, pull the rug up away from the nightstands at least six inches. 
  • For nightstands that have legs and are open at the bottom, either place them entirely on the rug or not on the rug at all. If they are not on the rug at all, pull the rug up at least six inches from the front of the nightstand.
  • For nightstands that extend all the way to the ground, you can choose to have them all the way on the rug, halfway, on or not at all on the rug.
  • If you can see the side of the nightstands in the room, it is best to put the nightstands fully on the rug.

With this comprehensive guide to choosing the right rug size, you're sure to make any room feel even more luxurious. Happy designing!

Stephanie Holmes is owner of Organic Looms, a Denver, Colorado-based showroom that provides sustainable hand-knotted Tibetan and Indian rugs. View their profile or contact them at 303.282.4444.

Content for this article provided by Organic Looms.

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