How To Choose the Right Area Rug

How To Choose An Area Rug

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of U.S. homeowners have rugs in their homes. That’s no surprise since area rugs can change a room from cold and unfinished to warm and stylishly complete. Area rugs have many functions. They can make a room appear larger, create an intimate seating area, keep feet warm on hard surface floors, minimize noise levels, complete a design scheme as well as many other functions. It is hard to set “rules” for area rug sizes since there are no standard room sizes with exact furniture placement. Use the advice below as a general guideline to get you started. The final decision should be based on how the room looks and feels when the rug is put into place.

Choosing the right pattern can be as important as choosing the right size. If you have a solid color sofa, painted walls rather than patterned wallpaper and minimal patterns in the room, a patterned area rug can tie all of the other colors in the room together giving you a whole new look for the room. If your room has patterned walls, patterned upholstery and other focal points, but the floors still need warmth, an area rug with a less detailed pattern or even a solid rug with a border might be the best choice.

How do you choose the right size to achieve the look you want?


  • Take into consideration the edges and corners of the area rug being a trip hazard.
  • The proper type of rug pad should always be used depending on the type of flooring under the rug. Failure to use the proper type of rug padding can do permanent damage to the floors because the backing can scratch the floors. Choosing the right type of rug pad, whether it be on top of wood, tile or carpet will be safer for your floors and keep your area rug from “walking” or “crawling”. Also, be sure that your rug is properly secured to the floor so that no one trips over the rug. Rug pad also helps the rug wear better, absorb the impact of body weight and noise and make vacuuming easier.
  • Rugs come with and without fringes. This is personal preference, depending if the option is offered for the rug. There are different styles and lengths of fringe for area rugs ranging from short (that stays in place) to long (that doesn’t always stay perfectly in place). Care should be taken when vacuuming an area rug with fringe.
  • Area rugs should be rotated at least once a year if the floors underneath are subject to fading. This will ensure even aging of the floors under the rug.
Click here to learn more about area rug maintenance.

Living Room

  • Under the coffee table – typically a 4x6 or 6x9 area rug will work best here. This application will work best if your area rug is going over carpet or is being used to bring a conversation area in closer for a more intimate feel. The entire coffee table should fit on the area rug and be as close to the same length as the furniture as possible.
  • Covering most of the floor – if you have a large room with hard surface floors and are trying to warm the entire room or address acoustic issues, an oversized area rug might be the best solution. If the seating pieces are positioned comfortably in the center of the room and a walk way is desired around the perimeter of the room be sure that all of the furniture fits on the area rug.
  • It is optional if you want the back feet of the sofa on the area rug. All 4 chair legs of chairs that can be picked up and repositioned should always be on the area rug so that a guest is not unbalanced while seated.

Dining Room

  • Plan to purchase an area rug that will not only accommodate the size of the table with all of the leaves inserted, but also cover the space that is required when the chairs are pulled out to seat someone. It can be uncomfortable to sit in a chair with the front legs on the rug and the back legs are off the rug, especially if you try to adjust the chair forward. Most dining room tables need an area rug that is at least 8’ wide.
  • If you do not use the dining room very often and plan to use the leaves even less, you can purchase a smaller rug that accommodates the smallest size of the table without the leaves, but still keep the position of the chairs into consideration.
  • The size of the room and ratio to the size of the rug is important because if the room is significantly larger than the table and chairs, then you will definitely want a larger rug. If the room is smaller and the table and chairs take up most of the room a rug that is sized for all of the leaves may overwhelm the room.
  • A simple guideline is to measure the length and the width of the table and add 4’ to each measurement.


  • One of the benefits of having an area rug in a bedroom with hard surface floors is the warmth of your feet hitting the floor in the morning. In this case, the area rug should cover the area of the bed as well as the nightstands. This should give your feet plenty of landing room while keeping the nightstands level.
  • Another opinion is that the rug should extend 18" past the edge of the bed for a king or queen size bed and 12" for a full or twin size bed. The rug can certainly extend more, but should not be less than these guidelines.
  • Area rugs can also be used in the sitting area of a bedroom to create a cozy space.
  • Another option is to “scatter rugs" throughout the room. One could be placed in the seating area and another at the foot of the bed.


  • Area rugs can make a hallway quieter and warmer. They should cover as much of the length of the hallway
  • without intruding into the traffic area.
  • The rug should be contained in the hallway and not intrude into the next room. You don’t want to find yourself partly on and partly off an area rug in a room.
  • This can be a great area to choose a colorful patterned rug because it will do a better job of hiding dirt and traffic, it can give life to an area that typically doesn’t have a lot of color or pattern and can set the tone/color palette for the rooms off the hallway.

Foyers/Entry ways

  • A general consideration is to leave a minimum of 18"-24" of space from the area rug to the wall. This is helpful especially when trying to place an area rug in an entry way. For small foyers, a smaller amount of space can be considered, for example 8".
  • Walk off mats should be placed outside. The interior rug should be for decorative purposes and secondary to the exterior rug for catching dirt.
  • Don’t forget about round rugs in the entry. Like a round eating table, a round rug can be a very inviting first impression.
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Overall Rating: 4.8 stars - 6 reviews

Date: October 5, 2016
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
Very useful information.
Date: October 2, 2016
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
This article has helped me out a lot, I just wish you would have put in the difference in the size of rugs for the room ie, rectangular rug and a square rug for the living room and dinning room
Date: September 8, 2016
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
Good information; thank you.
Date: June 6, 2015
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
I want to put a carpet under my dining table in a basement suite which already has carpeting. Can you suggest which type of area rug I can use safely so as not to create mold and mildew underneath. Should I go with maybe an outdoor carpet as I believe they are more air holes or what would you suggest? Thanks for your help.
Date: February 11, 2015
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
Wow, I was having doubts, but now I know. My sofa has multi colors, and so under the coffee table not so many patterns. Great, thank you soooo much.
Date: May 22, 2014
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
I have a tanish cream pattern tile floor, what kind of rug works on oattern tiling??

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