How to Choose the Right Size Rug

Learn how to choose a rug size

One of the things we always say here at Ballard is: when decorating a room, start with a rug. A rug provides the perfect foundation of color, texture and style on which to build your room’s design. Choosing the look is only part of the challenge, though – you also need to know how to choose the right size rug.

How to choose a rug for the bedroom

As a general rule, designers recommend that you leave at least 18”-24” of bare floor exposed around all sides of a rug. You can get away with a little less in a small room like an entryway or bathroom, but otherwise 18” is a good starting point. The maximum amount of exposed floor is largely up to personal preference. So whether you want to call attention to a beautiful wood floor or cover up flooring that has seen better days, you can select a rug perfectly sized for your needs.

Here are some other room-specific guidelines to consider when making your choice.

Choose a rug size for living room

Living/Family Room

First, measure your room. Next, position your furniture the way you’d like it. This will help you figure out precisely where you want your rug and how large you’d like it to be. For a room-sized rug, simply take 18”-24” off the room’s measurements. Rugs typically come in standard sizes, up to a maximum of about 10’ x 14’ or so. If your room is significantly larger than that, consider dividing it into separate seating areas, each with its own rug. Or place two matching rugs side-by-side to achieve the size you need.

How to choose a rug in a large living room

If you prefer a smaller area rug, use your sofa as a guide and make sure your rug is at least as long as the sofa. Furniture can be positioned with legs on or legs off the rug – whichever works best with your arrangement and is more pleasing to your eye. Still having trouble deciding? Use some painter’s tape to mark out different positions and sizes for your rug. That will help you visualize the rug in your space and feel confident before you buy.

Have you fallen in love with a rug that’s too small for your space or would be budget-busting in the right size? Layer it on top of a larger, less expensive rug! Natural fiber rugs like seagrasses and jutes make great neutral backgrounds for a colorful hand-knotted rug or eye-catching cowhide, and are wallet-friendly even in large sizes.

Choose a rug size for dining room

Choose a rug for the dining room

Dining Room

After you’ve measured your room and taken off 18”-24” for exposed floor, you’ll next need to measure your dining table. (If your table has extensions/leaves, put them in place before measuring.) Your rug should be at least 24”-30” larger than your table on all sides to allow chairs to be pulled out for seating without falling off the edge of the rug.

Choose a rug size for bedroom

Bedroom

A rug in a bedroom should be large enough that one can climb out of bed without touching the bare floor. You can achieve that via one large rug that goes under the bed and covers roughly 24” of floor on both sides (12”-18” for twin- or full-size beds) or by placing smaller area rugs on each side of the bed.

How to choose a rug size for your entryway

Entryway

This is one of those rooms where you can cheat the 18” minimum of exposed floor rule a bit if need be. The most important factor to consider in this space is door clearance – make sure the rug you choose doesn’t have a thick pile that would prevent your door from opening properly.

Finally, keep traffic patterns in mind when determining entry rug placement. Constantly having to step on and off a rug as you move through a space can be annoying and even a trip hazard. Make sure the size and placement of your rug enhances your room’s comfort and style rather than distracting from it.

Related story: Guide to Rug Materials and Construction

Have other thoughts on how to choose the right size rug? Leave us a note in the comments below.

 
How to Decorate Team

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.

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19 Comments

  1. Reply

    Felicia Palazzo

    August 6, 2017
     

    I love the dining room table featured in this article. Could you tell me where to find it?

    • Reply

      Annika Dupree

      August 7, 2017
       

      Hi Felicia,
      So glad to hear you love that dining room table! It’s our Andrews Pedestal Dining Table in whitewash color, which you can find here:

  2. Reply

    Lauren

    August 14, 2015
     

    Hi – I really like the curtains in the dining room, can you share where to find them? Thank you!
    Regards – Lauren

  3. Reply

    Julie

    March 29, 2015
     

    I love the light in the dining room, can you tell me where to find it? Julie

  4. Reply

    Rachel

    February 5, 2015
     

    Hi!

    I currently have a very small guest bedroom with white walls. My bed linens are a mix of blues and the comforter has a paisley design with navy blue. I want pull out the navy blue and do an accent wall of navy blue. I am trying to decide on night stands and I love the silver painted side tables right now. To me this will just pop on a navy blue wall, but is this a trendy color or will this be a good investment?

    Thank you!!

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      February 6, 2015
       

      Hi Rachel,
      We would love to help you with your guest bedroom. We actually have a design team that can create a detailed plan for you! It’s a free service where our designers will examine your space, and give you suggestions for pulling together a look. Simply complete this form, and we’ll reach out to you! And be sure to upload photos and include as much detail (measurements, colors, etc.) as you can so we can offer you a thorough plan and solution!
      We look forward to hearing from you!
      The How to Decorate Team

  5. Reply

    jan

    February 5, 2015
     

    Hello,
    I have vaulted white washed wood ceilings and mindful grey (SW) painted walls with lots of natural light due to a wall of windows. What color and style of rug would you suggest. The style of our home is French Country with many pieces of furniture in that style-linens.Thank you for any suggestions.

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      February 6, 2015
       

      Hi Jan,
      We would love to help you pick a rug for your space. We actually have a design team that can create a detailed plan for you! It’s a free service where our designers will examine your space, and give you suggestions for pulling together a look. Simply complete this form, and we’ll reach out to you! And be sure to upload photos and include as much detail (measurements, colors, etc.) as you can so we can offer you a thorough plan and solution!
      We look forward to hearing from you!
      The How to Decorate Team

  6. Reply

    Jane

    October 30, 2014
     

    Hello,

    I have a living/dining room combination. The entire room is carpeted. My dining table is teak
    and very heavy.

    How can I put a rug under this teak table (on top of the existing carpet) without the rug
    “buckling” under the weight of the table?

    Appreciate any thoughts, ideas!!

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 5, 2014
       

      Hi Jane,
      We actually have a design team that can help you with your open space. It’s a free service that we offer to all of our customers. Use this form to submit some photos, and our design team will help you sort out your rug problem. We look forward to helping you with your space.
      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

  7. Reply

    Rita

    May 7, 2014
     

    I have a 16×16 enclosed porch. It has 11 windows and a sliding door. There is only one solid wall in the room I would like some ideas on furniture placement and area rug. Thank you, Rita

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      June 6, 2014
       

      Hi Rita,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s definitely perfect timing to begin whipping your porch into tip top shape! We would love to give you some guidance in regards to your space. Our design services team actually does just that, so they can create a full plan for you. You’ll need to submit your questions using this form and our team can get working on it. Usually there’s about a week turn around!

      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

  8. Reply

    Christine Reinwald

    April 7, 2014
     

    I have an open family room/dining room/kitchen. I have a dark wood table with a medium gray rug with cream, beige and burgundy accents throughout. Sofa. Is light gray, with a dark gray and white paisley chair and ottoman and a black leather ottoman for coffee table with mixed dark wood end tables. I need a 9 by 13 rug and not sure what color. Kitchen. Has dark cherry cabinets and typhoon bourdeau granite.(white,gray,beige and burgundy )
    Also, need help with paint color. All three rooms will have to be the same color. New construction white right now.

    • Reply

      How to Decorate Team

      April 7, 2014
       

      Hi Christine,

      We would love to help you with your decorating dilemma. If you submit your question to our design services team using this form, someone from our team will create a design plan for you!

      We look forwarding to answering your questions!
      Best,
      The How to Decorate Team

  9. Reply

    shelly

    November 11, 2013
     

    Hello need ideas for livingroom rug. I have a 50″ round table that seats four. I want to place it in the corner of livingroom and I’m not sure if I should use a round rug or rectangular rug and what size. Would appreciate any advice.

    Regards

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