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Rugs 101: Selecting a Rug Size

One of the most important questions you need to ask yourself before you start your rug search is:

“What size do I need?”

Whether you are buying the rug first and using it as inspiration for the room or buying the rug last and using it to tie all the elements of the room together – getting the size right is critical. It is the only way to create a properly balanced room. Remember, your rug is the foundation and anchor to the space – so it needs to be in proportion. Exactly how much flooring should show around your rug is up for debate, but I will share with you what I have found works best.

Sometimes measuring just doesn’t cut it because you don’t get the full effect of what the size will look like in your home. I have found it is helpful before purchasing a rug, to lay down a sheet that has been folded to the dimensions of the rug you are considering. This will give you a good idea of how much floor is covered and if the room still feels in balance. In most situations, we do not want to carpet the room nor do we want our rug to look like a deserted island floating in the middle of a grand sea of wood!

Keep in mind rugs come in many varying sizes, depending on the manufacturer and quality. For example, say you are looking for an 8x10 rug. Many times, machine made rugs come close to 8x11; tufted rugs tend to come 7’6 x 9’6 and hand knotted rugs usually rug close to 8x10, give or take a few inches. Again – this can vary between manufacturer and collection – it is just something to be aware of and to take into consideration. It is best to have your maximum and minimum width and maximum and minimum length before you start your hunt.

The good news story is: in design today, most anything goes as long as it is done with thought and intention. Below are suggestions that we have found work well for our customers – but we always encourage thinking outside of the box! Just remember, you want your space to be inviting and balanced so that you have the refuge you deserve and love.

Living Room

To go under the sofa or just in front – that is the million dollar question! You can really do either – You just want to make sure the rugs length is covering the length of the couch. Take what you consider the center of your room and visualize framing that space – how big does your frame extend? Are you wanting to tie all the seating together?

In smaller spaces you can get away with having the rug just in front of the sofa – I tend to like the rug to start 4 to 6 inches in front of the sofa to have a border of wood showing. In the living room, I usually allow a 2 to 3 foot border of hard wood to show. Remember we are accenting your floors – so we want them to shine at their maximum potential as well!

I find in larger rooms - the space is anchored better when the rug goes under the sofa at least 6 inches and comes out on the sides. This really works well with L-shaped sectional sofas – being a larger furniture piece you need to make sure the rug is big enough to ground it. Usually an 8x10 at minimum would suffice (no taking into account the room size).

In mansion sized living rooms – it is best to go with a larger rug and have all your furniture sit on the rug. Make sure that there is enough rug extending out behind the furniture pieces so you can comfortably walk behind them (and you’re not walking one foot on the rug and one foot off!). This look creates cohesion and sense of grandeur. You would need a 10 x 14 up to 12 x 18 to allow for this.

That being said, most people use between a 5x8 and a 9x12 in their living rooms. A 5x8 being the size that goes in front of your sofa with no furniture on and larger sizes being able to have the front legs of the furniture on. Of course, if your space allows, you can always have multiple rugs in the living room – say a runner running behind the sofa or an additional rug in front of the fireplace. This can help to balance out a room if the current rug feels too small. It all depends on the lay out of the room, the amount and size of furniture and how much flooring you want to show.

Dining Areas

Dining Areas have stricter rules when selecting a proper rug size. We recommend an absolute minimum of 18” from the table to allow your chair to be pulled out and you sit down. I prefer 24” if the space allows.

What do you really need? Try this: go to your table and pull out all the chairs like you are going to sit down. Leave them out. Take a tape measure and measure just beyond where your chairs are. This is the minimum size you would want. In dining rooms, kitchens and breakfast nooks, I believe having the proper size rug trumps showing off the hard wood. That being said, I still like a 6” to 1’ border from the wall (and other furniture pieces) in these spaces. I recommend buying a rug that fits the size the table is kept at normally – if you only use the leaves (extensions) twice a year take that into consideration.

Why is it so important to have the proper size? First- having to fight the rug day in and day out when you go to sit down can be downright annoying. Sitting half on, half off a rug can be uncomfortable. And aesthetically, the rug looks silly when it is too close to the size of the table! It is important. Now note: some people do not use their dining spaces and have them only for looks – if this is the case, maybe 6 - 9” from the table will suffice – but please – no less!

*Here is a cheat sheet – but just remember add 18 to 24” to each side of your table to get a good estimate of the size you need – then measure your room and make sure you have at least some wood showing on all sides. Then you are ready to start shopping!

  • 36” Round / Square table – minimum 6’ round / square / octagon – My recommendation: at least 7’
  • 42” Round / Square table – minimum 6’6” round / square / octagon – My recommendation: at least 7’6”
  • 50” Round / Square table – minimum 7’2” round / square / octagon – My recommendation: at least 8’2”
  • 60” Round / Square table – minimum 8’ round / square / octagon - My recommendation: at least 9’
  • 36 x 60” Rectangle/Oval – minimum 6’ x 8’ rectangle/oval – My recommendation: at least 7’ x 9’
  • 42 x 72” Rectangle/Oval – minimum 6’6” x 9’ rectangle/oval – My recommendation: at least 7’6” x 10’
  • 40 x 82” Rectangle/Oval - minimum 6’ 4” x 9’10” rectangle/oval – My recommendation: at least 7’ 4” x 10’10”
  • 42 x 118” Rectangle/Oval – minimum 6’6” x 12’10” rectangle/oval – My recommendation: at least 7’6” x 13’10”

To over simplify – usually these sizes will suffice:

  • 6 chair dining room tables need an 8x10
  • 8 chair dining room tables need a 9x12
  • 10 chair dining room tables need a 10x14
  • Most breakfast nook tables have a 7 to 8 foot round or octagon rug

This day in age, with all the dining table size options on the market, it is best the measure your table and room to make sure you are getting the best size for your situation.

Bedroom

The bedroom offers many options for rug placement. I have found the preferred and most popularly accepted way is laying the rug perpendicular to the bed and pulling it half way under – stopping before your side tables. This maximizes the amount of useable rug – giving your soft, plush goodness to get out of bed on. You have a nice anchoring frame to your bed while still accenting your floors.

For a queen size bed – 8x10 allows you to have 2’6” on each side of the bed and 3’6” at the end of the bed. For a king size bed - a 9x12 and allows you to have 2’10” on each side of the bed and 4’ at the end of your bed. Of course the amount of rug at the end of the bed depends on how close you bring the rug up to the side tables. Ideally, you just want to make sure that your feet land on it when you get out of bed.

For smaller bedrooms the use of accent rugs is popular as well. Be creative. Maybe have a 4 x 6 next to the bed on just one side; or 2 x 4’s on the sides of the bed with a coordinated 4x6 or 5x8 in front. Or maybe just a nice round accent rug to soften the room. The possibilities are endless – just remember to have the size of the rug in proportion to the room as to not overwhelm it.

Foyer

The first rug your guests see sets the tone for your home. Please, take this into consideration when buying this rug and be sure you give this space the attention it deserves.

Make sure the rug is in balance with the room - allowing 2 to 3 foot of wood to show on at least 2 sides of the rug. If your foyer lends itself to the use of a round or octagon – they can add interest and drama – especially when mirroring a chandelier or fabulous fixture. Consider rugs with pattern and personality – often foyers can benefit from the anchoring effect of a rug that is both strong in presence & aesthetically pleasing.

Hallway

Your hallways are highly traveled routes that are yearning to be brought the life. Like foyers, hallways can be very simply decorated spaces- which allows the rug to be a focal point. Have fun with this space!

Runners come in many lengths sizes – from 6’ to 14’+! You want to make sure that your runner covers at least 75 % of the length of the hallway – and that wood is showing on both ends of the runner. You do not want the runner to run into the wall. You also want to make sure that you have some wood on the sides of the runner showing – offering a nice border.

The average hallway uses a runner of 2’3” x 8’. For extra-long hallways – sometimes people use multiple runners allowing say 6” between them. This is one of the few cases where I believe matching rugs is the way to go.

Office

Your office cannot be complete without a rug that makes it your own. Whether is shows your traditional nature or your creative side – be sure you are setting the right tone for the room where big decisions are made.

If the room set up is traditional, maybe you have your desk and then two chairs directly in front of you – you have a couple options:

  1. You can go with a large rug that runs perpendicularly under your desk and the 2 chairs – say a 9x12 – this would be ideal for a larger office
  2. You could have a rug that runs parallel to your desk and just put the back legs on- allowing for 2 chairs to be on the rug but your chair to be directly on the floor – say a 6x9

Also, based on the set up of your office, if you have a larger open space you can place the rug in the center – giving the room a foundation and sense of purpose. Again, make sure that your rug is in proportion to the room and does not look like a postage stamp or island.

Kitchen

A nice plush rug in the kitchen is a must have. As much time as we spend cooking and washing dishes we deserve a rug that provides us comfort and makes us happy. Please remember, just because a rug is not “a kitchen rug” does not mean it wouldn’t be perfect in a kitchen.

Smaller rugs seem to find their homes in kitchens. In front of the sink – 2x4 can be perfect; in front of the stove – 2x3 usually is ideal. If you have long counters sometimes runners are the ticket. An aesthetically pleasing and fun alternative can be having a round rug in the center of a large kitchen. Remember the larger the space the more you should cover to make sure the room is in balance.


12 comments

  • 1. Martha Reichard on

    I have a 48 in round table.. 4 chairs need to know what size rug I need ? My room space is limited, 7×7
    Please advise. Thank you

  • 2. Annette on

    I have a round 48" table but it is a drop leaf and will likely have the leafs down most of the time giving it more of a rectangular shape. I am not sure what style rug I should have underneath. A round or square? and what size for either round and square? Any suggestions would be great!

  • 3. Kathy Meadows on

    I am looking for a 3×3 or 4×4 round or octagon rug. My walls are a sunshine yellow. There is a mural with brown tree and limbs, green leaves and magnolias. This is for my foyer that has white ceramic floor. I need something with character but not iverpowering in appeaeance or price. Can you help me. Kathy Meadows

  • 4. Luellen on

    I have a 48" round table. It sits on hardwood that is 11’6"from wall to carpet. On carpet side is main walk way from hall to kitchen ( open on carpet side to living rm)—open concept. Should I have round or rectangle rug and what size?

  • 5. Sandra on

    One great thing about not having living room seating entirely on the rug is that it’s much easier to turn the rug. I have the front legs of the seating on the rug and the rug extends about 6" under the seating, just as the article suggested. It works well and looks great.

    For bedrooms I no longer use a big rug that goes all of the way under the bed and extends out to the sides, I now use small rugs on the sides of the bed. Easier to position, easier to clean, and much much cheaper!


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