What Size Decorative Rug is Best for Living Rooms: 10 Tips

When homeowners are reluctant to cover up too much of a nice wood or marble floor with a rug, they can make the mistake of buying a decorative that is too small. This has the effect of making the living room or dining room look smaller. We asked three leading interior designers how they determine what is the right size decorative rug for living rooms, open plan rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms. Here are their answers.

Eric Guenther, Founder, Whim Home, San Juan Capistrano, CA

“As a designer, I’m often asked how to determine the size of the decorative rug that should be used in the room. And normally, that question is coming from someone who has either just refinished or put in wood floors, and they hate the idea of covering the stone or wood that they’ve installed.

Black and gold Aubusson rugs, Black and gold rugs, Aubusson rugs for sale

“The apparent size of the room is defined by the size of the decorative rug. The decorative rug should be large enough so at least the toes of the furniture can sit on the rug. Placing the dining table on a decorative rug does not hide the rug, but actually creates a feeling of welcome”, advises Interior Designer Eric Guenther. Black and gold La Sarre Aubusson rug in French dining room designed by Jim Koch. Image Courtesy Koch Studio.

1. A decorative rug that is too small will make the room feel smaller

“I caution clients and tell them that by making the decorative rug too small, and therefore attempting to show as much of the new floor as they possibly can, they are, rather than enhancing the floor, making the decorative rug, and therefore the room, look small.

 2. Do not be afraid of covering a portion of the decorative rug with furniture

“The best rule of thumb is to make sure that furniture that’s placed in the room has at least its toes on the rug.

Cream and blue Oushak rug, Oushak rugs for sale, Bedroom rugs

“There is nothing wrong with putting a dining table on top of the decorative rug, or slipping half of the rug under the bed, as we’ve done here, because it warms the look of the room; you’re not hiding the decorative rug, you’re enhancing it by adding furniture to it” says Eric Guenther. Cream, blue and green Oushak rug in a bedroom vignette in Whim Home. Asmara Image.

Lisa Torbett Interiors, Sea Island Georgia

3. Bedroom rugs should be partially under the bed and living room rugs under the sofa

When determining the size of the rug, you take into consideration the furniture placement.  For instance, in a bedroom, most people would like to step onto a rug when they get out of bed.  Usually, in a living or family room situation, the rug will go under the sofa and chairs to avoid tripping hazards.  I have always felt that a larger rug makes the room look larger. You also have to take into consideration, entrances and hallways, and where the corner of a rug might end up.

Blue and gold Savonnerie rugs, Savonnerie rugs for sale, Damask rugs for sale

Lisa Torbett chose a very large gold and blue Morena Savonnerie oriental rug inspired by a sixteenth century Spanish rug, for the main room in the club at Sea Island, Georgia. The major pieces of furniture sit comfortably on the rug and expand the feeling of space. Image courtesy Lisa Torbett Interiors.

Green and gold geometric rugs, Green and gold Savonnerie rugs, Savonnerie rugs for sale

For a Sea Island living room Lisa Torbett custom colored a green, gold and cream Chipping oriental rug and adjusted its scale so it was in proper proportion to the height of the chairs, the size of the lighting, windows and ceiling. Image courtesy Lisa Torbett Interiors.

4. Keep furnishings and decorative rug in proper scale

Lisa told me that many people do not have an accurate sense of scale. The above living room feels and looks luxurious because the size of the rug, the height of the upholstered chairs, the lighting, the windows and the ceiling height are all in proportion to each other. If you are unsure of your ability to manage scale and proportion, you can avoid costly mistakes and delays by retaining a competent interior designer who can assist you in achieving the right scale and proportion.

Green and gold Savonnerie rug, Savonnerie rugs for sale, Savonnerie rugs

A green and gold Seville Savonnerie oriental rug defines the living area of an open plan room. Designer Jim Koch made the living room feel warm and comfortable by floating the furniture on the decorative rug. Image courtesy Koch Studio.

Blue and white rug, blue and white floral rug, blue and white needlepoint rug, blue and white savonnerie rug

Interior designer Bill Barr placed two-thirds of the upholstered chair on a blue and white floral Bunbry oriental rug in a living room on Cape Cod. Bunbry is available as a needlepoint rug or as an oriental rug. Image courtesy Bill Barr.

Bill Barr , Surroundings, Cape Cod, Massachusetts  

5. Standard guidelines for selecting the right size decorative rug for a room

“There are some standard guidelines regarding size when buying a decorative rug. For a full room rug the suggestion is to subtract 3 feet from the length and width of the room, leaving 18 inches of bare hardwood, tile, what-have-you all around the edges of the rug.  This rule will keep the rug from overwhelming the room and makes the room look a little larger. This rule certainly won’t work in every situation, you could be starting with a room that is too big (a nice problem to have).  Multiple rugs are your best option for a “too big” room.  The one thing I always keep in mind is: Will the furniture in the room end up on or off the rug? – Or, half on and half off the rug.

6. Define areas and determine furniture placement with decorative rugs

“A rug can also help determine furniture placement, because rugs help define or separate areas, such as seating or dining areas, and foyers.  Floating furniture has become standard practice in recent years, gone are the days of “anchoring a wall” with a sofa.  In today’s homes pulling furniture away from walls can make a room feel more spacious and a rug will define an area and support furniture and its placement.

7. Be prepared to spend up to 1/3 of your budget on a good decorative rug

“People usually buy rugs that are too small, be prepared to spend up to 1/3 of your budget on a good decorative rug.

8. Guidelines for bedroom decorative rug sizes

“In bedrooms, the decorative rug should go under the bed but not the night stand, if possible your decorative rug should stop in front of dressers and other furniture…for instance I like the night stands to be off a decorative area rug so I usually measure 20 to 22 inches off the bed wall and ensure that I can get the rug a minimum of 24” beyond the foot of the bed, but more is certainly better.

9. Guidelines for living room decorative rug sizes

In living rooms, family rooms and the like, try for a consistently sized border of exposed flooring around the edges of your room.

if you are floating your sofa(s) I prefer them to be completely on the area rug, this will lend itself to feeling as if the rug is not undersized for the room.  In turn, if your sofa is against a wall, I employ a 1/3 rule.  The sofa can either be 1/3 on the rug or 1/3 off, remaining furniture can be on, off or 1/3 on or 1/3 off.

10. Dining room decorative rug sizes

When laying a rug under your dining table, leave enough rug beyond the edge of the table ( 24 inches in a bare minimum ) to enable the back legs of the chairs to stay on the rug, even when pulled out to let someone sit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *