How to Choose the Right Rug Size
Rugs are the foundation to any room, and they are also the easiest thing for the do-it-yourself decorator to get wrong. Considering that rugs aren’t cheap, the last thing you want to do is make a mistake with them!
I always start my rooms with a floor plan, which in turn will give me the right size rug I need for the space. A general rule of thumb is to leave 8” - 10” inches of hardwood as a border, and even a foot or more if your room is large. Also, if you are going with a custom rug, it’s the first thing you want to order as they are made overseas by hand and have a lengthy lead time. So again, knowing the size you need in advance via a floor plan is a must.
The most common mistake people make is buying too small of a rug. Nothing makes a room look skimpier than a bath-mat-size rug with a bunch of furniture gathered around it. Ideally, your rug should define the seating area, and all furniture should sit within its borders. You’ll note in my University Park living room I’ve done exactly that. In smaller spaces, it’s ok if the back legs of your sofa or a table over hangs the edge of the rug just a bit, but if half of the depth of a sofa or chairs hang over the edge, your rug is too small.
People often skip a rug in a dining room, thinking it my get soiled, but not using a rug in any room other than kitchens or baths is usually a mistake. Rugs give softness and intimacy to a room, and are integral to making a room feel cozy and livable.
In a dining area or dining room, you should be able to pull a chair out and still have all the legs rest on the carpet. The rule can be a little looser in a great room, where a rug is used more to define a dining area, as in my Galveston beach house I design for HGTV’s Brother vs. Brother. Ideally, it would be about 6” wider, but then it would encroach on the the space for the barstools and that would be a big no-no. As with all things decorating, there are guidelines to follow, but it helps to know when the rules can be broken for aesthetic clarity!
The same rule applies to bedrooms. Ideally, all furniture should sit within the borders of the carpet, but the most important factor is making sure there is enough rug sticking out from under the bed so that your feet land on the carpet, whether you are sitting on the side or the foot of the bed. In the diagram below, the far right column is not ideal as the rug sits too far from the nightstands. It should sit under it, or at least close enough that the rough and the nightstands still “talk to” each other. Manufacturers generally make rugs in fairly standard sizes, so again I start with a floor plan to select the best option for the the space. Remember to buy the largest rug for your bedroom that will fit, yet still leave a border so you can see the hardwood underneath.
In the master of the same Galveston project, the room was quite narrow, so I selected a striped rug, with the stripe running perpendicular to narrow width of the room and to visually expand the space.
I hope you found today’s brief rug primer to be useful! For more rug inspiration, please visit my Rock That Rug Pinterest board.