Design Tip: How To Select The Right Size Area Rug

Feb 7

Believe it or not, an area rug can make or break a room.  I know it sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true my friends.  Selecting the right size area rug has the ability to ground a room and make it feel cozy and inviting. Choose wrong, and you’ll give the illusion of a room being cold and “off”. Our home is our sanctuary, our “home sweet home”. We all want to feel invited into our home, am I right?!

Using simple tips and tricks, I’m going to walk you through how to figure out the perfect size area rug for your space.

Living Room/Family Room

This is arguably the most used room in the house. The place where we usually hang out for family time or snuggle up on the couch watching Netflix.  Avoid the feeling of furniture just “floating” in the room by anchoring all the furniture on the right size area rug.  This creates a gathering spot and marks out where people hang out to relax.  Kinda like the “X” marking the gold on a treasure map.  BTW, if you have a treasure map can we be friends?

All of the main furniture in the room should be on the rug.  The area rug should echo the room – big room = big rug. This will keep your proportions to scale.  The room dimensions will also dictate the orientation of the rug.

Two Area Rug Size Options for your Living Room/Family Room

LIVING ROOM-all on rug

If your space is a large open-concept room with most of the furniture centred in the room, I recommend going with this option.  Have every bit of the furniture on the area rug, with at least 6″ extending on each side.  The larger rug will really define the gathering spot.

LIVING ROOM_-front feet on rug

This option is probably the most common, since gathering spots often have at least one large piece of furniture against a wall.

Dining Room

Whatever shape your dining table is, your area rug should be the same. #twinning for the win! (Rectangular Table = Rectangular Rug, Round Table = Circular Rug, you get it).  For the Dining room the only option is to have all furniture (table and chairs) on the rug. You need enough room to pull out the chair while it’s still resting on the rug.  This helps with safety so no one trips around the table and injures themselves on any sharp corners.

DINING ROOM-square rug

DINING ROOM-circular rug


BEDROOM-half on rug

Area rugs in the bedroom can be a little more fun. You can play with the rules more than perhaps other rooms in the house. The bed is the main focal point of the bedroom and the rug is placed under the bed.  Usually half-way or three-quarters under.

This style is a little more traditional, depending on the rug you choose.  A fun animal hide (faux or real) would be an example of less traditional, while a Persian rug would skew more traditional. Queen beds usually look grounded to perfection with an 8 X 10 and Kings maintain their stately nature with a 9 X 12.

BEDROOM- side runners

Another option that’s becoming a favourite is having two “runners” on each side of the bed.  This option also has more versatility to it, but still there are some general guidelines to keep in mind.  The runners should not extend past the end of the bed and should be wider than your nightstands.

Benefits Of Area Rugs In The Home

I’ve already mentioned that area rugs help ground a space and signal where the gathering place is, but it’s worth mentioning again.  One perhaps less obvious benefit of area rugs is acoustics. Rugs help absorb sound and create a better sensory environment for us to enjoy our creature comforts in.

Another bonus is of course comfort: soft surfaces are easier on our bodies and help put less strain on our joints.

Area Rug On Broadloom

I sometimes get asked if it’s acceptable to put an area rug over broadloom (wall-to-wall) carpet. I say yes! There could be a few good reasons why you would do this besides having a good design sense and wanting to define your living areas.

Now, you might not have the budget to rip out the carpet just yet – even though it’s showing signs of wear and you still totally want to inject some of your personal style. Maybe you’re renting, and don’t want to invest that kind of money into a space you don’t own.  To prevent “ripples” on the area rug, make sure you purchase and install a “carpet-to-carpet” under pad to ensure safety.


When mapping out the correct size area rug, place all the furniture where you want it and use some painters tape to create an outline. This will help you visualize what size feels good to you in each space. If you notice that some of your rugs are on the small side, but really like them, I’d suggest placing a larger (perhaps cheaper) area rug underneath. I love a win-win solution!

General Rug Sizes


3′ X 5′

4′ X 6′

5′ X 8′

6′ X 9′

8′ X 10′

9′ X 12′










2′ X 6′

2′ X 8′

2′ X 10′

2′ X 12′

2′ X 14′



In Summary

  • Living/family room – if a large open concept space with all furniture in centre of room, large area rugs works best.  Ensure all (and entire piece) of furniture is on rug.
  • Dining Room, twinning is best. For example, rectangular table = rectangular area rug. Ensure rug is large enough that when dining chairs are pushed out they are still entirely on the rug.
  • Bed is the focal point in the bedroom and should have the area rug about half-way under the bed or have two rug runners on each side that are wider than end tables and same length as bed.
  • Area rug on broadloom is A-OK!
  • Use green painters tape to help map out which size area rug would work best in each space.

I know this post was long for my “quick tip” design post series (you can read the others here and here)! However, all this information is important and worth going into detail about.  Also, you might not have to purchase new area rugs if you notice that some aren’t following these guidelines.

Simply take stock of all the rugs you own, as we usually gravitate towards similar colours. See if you can swap some around in your house or layer them per the tips above.  I know I have done this!

I would love to see some pictures if you end up switching, layering or even splurging on a new area rug. Just follow these guidelines to select the right size for your space! If you have a design dilemma that you’d like me to feature, comment below. I would love to assist with your design struggles!

For more Design Tips, check out “How to Properly Hang Curtains”, or “How High to Hang Artwork”.

Still stumped? Get my Free Design Guidebook here.




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