A beautiful rug can breathe life into a room and set the tone for your living spaces.
Choosing the wrong size of rug can make things look awkward, poorly planned or they can even be a nuisance! Since this topic is frequent amongst clients and designers, we’ve decided to share and offer up our guide for determining the perfect rug size for your spaces.
A living room rug’s job is to help create a designated area within the room. This can be particularly important for open floor plans and larger living areas. There are three basic approaches that work well:
One strategy is for the front legs of sofas and chairs to sit on the rug. This is especially the way to go if some of the furniture is against a wall.
Another option is to select a large rug and have all main furniture in a seating area lie completely on the rug. In this case, the furniture should comfortably sit entirely on the rug with at least 6” between furniture legs and the edge of the rug. However, be careful that you don’t have the rug too close to the walls. To prevent your rug from looking like wall-to-wall carpet, make sure there is at least 12”-14” of exposed flooring between the wall and the rug.
Another approach is to have one larger rug (underlay rug) that suits the size of the overall room with a smaller rug that lays on top of it. I love this look and use it for my clients often. The smaller rug defines the seating group or groups. I use a natural material for the larger underlay rug such as sea grass, jute or sisal.It adds texture and gives a great backdrop to a modern wool rug or a more traditional Persian antique rug. This trick helps me to successfully incorporate rugs that are sentimental to a client, such as a family heirloom, even if their special rug might be too small for the room. Using an underlay rug can help make most rug sizes work depending on the seating arrangement.
For a rug in the dining room, you’ll want a size that fits the dining table and all dining chairs comfortably on top. You don’t want a guest pushing their chair back from the table and when they push it it in again it lifts up the edge of the rug. The trick is when the chairs are pushed in, leave at least two feet of rug between the back of the chairs and the edges of the rug - more room is better. If your table has a leaf or is extendable, don’t forget to account for that additional size.
Rugs in bedrooms serve several purposes, but amongst the most important is to provide comfort and warmth underfoot when getting in and out of bed. This can be accomplished with one large rug or multiple rugs. Each of these provide a look all onto its own. For my bedroom, I use multiple smaller rugs layered. I place the rugs in key areas where I need comfort and warmth. If you choose to put a one larger rug under the bed, make sure that it extends at least a foot from either side of the bed so that it doesn’t look imbalanced. If you decide to opt for smaller rugs, consider a small throw rug or runner on either side of the bed or a 5’x7’ or larger rug under the bottom half of the bed to anchor that area.
JD Tip: I like all of the smaller rugs to marry to one another in color and style.
The same strategies apply for children's rooms and nurseries as for adult bedrooms, however, you may want to consider the added perk that rugs dampen noise and cushion the falls of little ones. When play becomes active, the rug will diminish the noise that your children make. The rug will also help to ensure that after you tuck them in bed, you can tip toe out and not reawaken them. I try to keep the rugs smaller and more functional for children. Their needs change so quickly that it helps for a rug to be able to switch directions or create new layouts.
Due to the high potential for spills and crumbs, rugs in the kitchen should be small and easily removable for washing. It’s enjoyable to have a rug underfoot for meal prep, dishwashing, and other kitchen activities where you’ll be standing for a spell. For this reason, a runner or 1-3 small matching 2’x3’ rugs can be a great option. Make sure to use rug pads so that the smaller rugs stay in place and are less likely to be a tripping hazard.
JD Tip: I love the solution-dyed rugs that are on the market now. These can be used for indoor or outdoor use. They are amazing to keep clean. There are many options now that are soft and high-end to be used in any style of home. I like to use these style rugs where maintenance is a concern. They can easily be cleaned and popped into the washer.
In the bathroom, your rugs will be performing two duties - to keep the feet cozy and to keep the floor dry. Opt for several small coordinating rugs or a long runner to cover the areas in front of each sink and the exit from the shower or bathtub.
JD Tip: I like to pick up bath mats/bath rugs as I find them when I am out and about shopping. It is nice to have many that you can use as you are washing the others. It changes the look for the everyday use of the bathroom too which can be fun. I love white for my bath mats or rugs. White always says “clean” which is an important feeling to have in a bathroom.
Some of my favorites, left to right: Cobble Bath Rug from Waterworks, Organic Cotton Bath Rug from The Company Store, and Wide Stripe Bath Mat from Schoolhouse.
Corridors are often narrow by nature, so it’s best not to make them feel cluttered. This is why runners are often the best choices for hallways. Try to choose a size that leaves all furniture legs off the rug and doesn’t impede with door swing arcs. Keep the floor underneath exposed on all edges of the rug. This helps the hall to look spacious and it creates more visual interest. You want to see each of the runners or rugs float down the hall and not look like one continuous rug.
In addition to your welcome mat outside the front door, a rug inside the door is a great way to ease the transition from outside to inside. While appropriate sizes may vary, make sure that the thickness of the rug works with the door swing over it. Be sure to leave enough clear space between the swing of the door and the edge of the rug. This rug will need frequent cleaning so don’t choose a size that would require moving any furniture should you want to remove the rug. Use the width of your front door as a guide for rug width.
Outdoor rugs are fun! They can make an outdoor space really feel like a room that sits outside the home - extending the inside out. The sizing recommendations for living room rugs work well for outdoor living areas too. There are many exterior rugs now on the market that are easy to maintain and don’t look like an “outdoor” rug.
Some of my favorites, left to right: Kelso Charcoal and Camel Stripe Indoor/Outdoor Rug from CB2, Risa Indoor/Outdoor Rug from Lulu and Georgia, Lemieux et Cie Handwoven Potala Indoor/Outdoor Rug from Anthropologie.