Area Rugs – choosing the right size

Area rugs are a sure way of anchoring a room or energising a tired decor. Rugs define and complement room design. If your room does not have an area rug, chances are it feels unfinished and you do not know why. Area rugs are art underfoot. Also recoginse that rugs can make quite stunning wall art. Ensure that your rug fits the colour and style of your space and other accessories. Darker rugs add intimacy, while lighter coloured ones make a room appear larger and more open. Heavy patterns hide soil and is good for high traffic areas.

But what size is the best size for the room? Use the following guidelines to determine the size range most suited for your space.

  • Measure your space.
  • Rugs normally come in standard sizes: 4×6, 5×8, 6×9, 8×10, 9×12, 10×14, 12×14.

A hallway carpet runner should be about 4″ narrower than the passageway and about 18 – 24″ shorter.  The key is to maintain the relationship with the perimeter of the space and to reduce the risk of tripping over the edges.

For a whole room rug, choose a rug that is 24″ shorter than the shortest wall in the room. For a room 14×18 choose a 12×14 rug.

For a dining room rug, as a starting point, add 4′ to the width and length of the table. The table and chairs should fit on the rug with enough space for the chair to be moved back from the table and still be on the rug. It is a safety hazard if the legs fall off the edge of the rug when pushed back. This could cause the chair to topple.

An 8′ wide rug will fit in most dining areas. This advice is relevant for formal dining areas, kitchen dining or informal dining areas.

This rug is too small and is dwarfed by the dining furniture.

For a living room rug, – in fact anywhere you have a conversation area – the rug should define the area. It should be no larger than 2′ on all sides than the seating, unless it is a whole room rug. A 5×8 rug is usually the smallest that works, with 8×10 rugs being suitable for most living rooms. 

At the very minimum, the front feet of the sofa should be on the rug and the rug should be no shorter than the length of the sofa. If the legs of the sofa are off the rug, anchor the rug by centering it under a table or other suitable furniture or accessory. Just ensure that the table is appropriately sized to the rug and to the sofa.

Alternately, treat the sofas as though they are walls and use the guidelines for hallways for sizing and positioning your rug.

This rug is too narrow for this sofa making the sofa appear to be giving birth to the rug. Not very attractive.

This rug is so disconnected it is swimming in the large expanse of the wooden floor. This decor would have benefited from a larger rug and a cozier seating arrangement.

For a bedroom rug, the experts recommend that the rugs should be large enough to extend 24- 36″ on the sides of the bed.

For a more affordable option, I suggest you consider runners – at the sides and even at the foot.

Kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor spaces can also benefit from the decorative value of a well chosen area rug. In kitchens, the guidelines from hallway areas often apply. For eat-in areas, dining room guidelines should be observed.

If the room is extra large, or has multiple conversation groupings or functional areas, please consider using more than one rug. Using several rugs is an option. Personnally, I do not find that rugs floating in th middle of the room attractive. Ensure that it is grounded / anchored / connected to other furnishings, accessories or the room. If you are not sure about the optimal size or number of rugs to use, try using newspaper and painters blue tape to map out the rug on the floor. This will give you a good idea of proportional and pleasing coverage. Too small it will look skimpy and out of place and too big it could look like you made a mistake with wall to wall carpeting. Do not be boxed in by the predictable rectangle. Experiment with squares, ovals, octagons and organic shapes.
Off to look for your area rug? Happy hunting.

Beyond Drapery Limited … for the best dressed rooms.

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