It’s challenging to decide which rug you want–we plead guilty to offering hundreds of styles. Even tougher decision: figuring out the size of the rug you’ll need. We can help.
First, some basics
Generally, use a rectangular rug in a rectangular room; a square rug in a square room; and save round rugs for use in entry halls, under any circular dining tables, or even in a playroom.
Always place your furniture first before measuring for a rug. This can save you from ordering a size that might be too big, or small. In a dining room, you might want to measure inward from pieces lining the room like china cabinets, drinks carts, or consoles. Kraft paper cut to the size of furniture and placed mat-style on the floor can also help you see how much rug you’ll need.
Now, three classic rug-sizing tips
Tip #1 Traditional sizing always works.
In a room of average to ample dimensions, when the goal is to create a single seating space together in a clean, unified way, use a rug that’s a little larger than the furniture footprint area. Measure the “furniture footprint” of your room (the space occupied by seating, ottomans, and tables). Then add at least 6 to 12 inches to this measurement to know which rug size to order.
Example: Say your furniture footprint is 7′ x 9′. A slightly larger 8′ x 10′ rug, or really better yet, a 9′ x 12′ rug, will visually hold the seating space together and the entire seating area will fit on it, unifying the room in a simple, clean way.
Tip #2 Smaller rugs can create defined spaces.
When you need a rug foundation for a side room, or want to create cozy seating areas within a room, smaller rugs can be used to anchor the spaces.
Center a smaller rug you like (one that’s, say, 5′ x 7′) in your seating area, keeping at least the front legs of each piece on the rug, evenly and consistently, even if all the pieces cannot fit fully on the rug. This creates a pulled-together cozy conversation area. If you do place furniture a bit off the rug, be consistent: two legs off the rug per key piece, evenly placed.
If you have a sofa whose back is against a wall, gain some extra rug up front if needed by pulling more rug forward to create the defined area, keeping just the front legs of the sofa on the rug. Or place the rug in front of the sofa, with chairs or tables positioned on it, facing the sofa.
Layering is always a solution for a perfect-looking, but somewhat too-small rug. Want a fuller-coverage look? Layering to the rescue: try placing the too-small rug over a larger, flat weave rug that you’ll select in a neutral color, or in a color that relates well to the smaller rug. This simple trick can extend your coverage, and color, for a better visual in any room. You can even mix textures.
One caveat: in a dining room, using a rug that’s a little too small can be more than a visual issue. It can be problematic for your guests, especially if the chairs are left hanging partly off onto a hard surface floor, causing the chairs to feel wobbly or even like they might tip backwards.
If you wish to keep the too-small rug because it works with your dining room design, layering it on a larger flat weave rug is really a must. And, remember, whether you layer, or give in and simply get a larger area rug to properly accommodate your dining room furniture’s footprint, always allow for enough room for the chairs to be pulled out to a normal “seated” position upon the rug’s surface. You’ll want some inches to spare for your guests’ comfort, so keep that in mind when measuring. Now you’re a truly great host.
Tip # 3 Consider the position of furniture & room shape.
In a living room, dining room, or great room, you want to work with the shape of the space, so a rectangular rug is laid down following the shape of a rectangular room, its long sides parallel with the longer wall. You want a rug with enough length to mirror or fill the rectangular space, ideally while keeping a consistent distance from the walls on all sides. A long room with a skimpy rug or too much bare floor at one end simply doesn’t look complete or inviting.
In a bedroom, when using an area rug, lay your rug so that the long side runs from one side of the bed to the other. This allows for enough footage on either side to equal the furniture footprint including the bedside tables, and to ensure that your feet can step comfortably onto a soft rug when you get out of bed.
Example: A queen size bed measures about 5′ across, so a rug that is 10′ across, horizontally, can offer a landing space of about 2-1/2′ per side (if the bed and rug are centered). A king size bed is just over 6-1/2′ across, so a rug that is 12′ long will again give you about 2-1/2′ of landing space per side.
Starting the rug about halfway under the bed can give yourself more rug to enjoy in the room space at the foot.
Finally, some people prefer a smaller rug placed on each side of the bed. In a modern space, a fluffy faux fur rug or a burst of color can be fun, especially on a beautiful floor of wood or natural stone.
Shop all grandinroad rugs.
This was a great help to me. I am planning on ordering several area rugs and you really helped make me feel more secure about what I will be purchasing. I do think you should warn people about smaller area rugs that are not secured down by furniture and a rubber pad underneath. I had a decent size one next to my king size bed several years ago, and after about a year I had a bad fall when it slid from underneath me. Once, when my mom was in the emergency room, a women came in with a broken hip from falling on a rug. The doctor said that 75% of people breaking their hips are from falling on smaller rugs. Okay, I don’t mean to bother you, but you must agree that it is important.
I would also like to know the general amount of space needed around dining room chairs. I know you said 6 to 12 inches, but is it uncomfortable or difficult for people to pull their chairs out from the dining table after eating when their chair is on an area rug? Exactly how much space should there be after they pull their chair out to stand up etc. Love your merchandise…especially Halloween. Hope next year you come out with maybe life size rubber bloodshot eyeballs that float, wouldn’t that be frightening.
If you can return an email that would be great!
Happy and healthy New Year.
Thanks for the kind and wise words, Michele! Yes, rug pads are a must! Know that we sell these too: https://www.grandinroad.com/ProductSearch2#w=rug%20pad. In regard to your inquiry about having enough room to pull out the dining room chairs, we say give it an extra 24″ (extending beyond each side of the table) to be safe. Hope this helps!
Looking for small ROUND rug to go under round SMALL coffee table = probably 4 ft.diameter
Trish – Love where your head is at! A round dining table or coffee table will work beautifully on any shaped rug, but there is a certain harmony that happens when you mix a round furniture piece with a round rug. Might we inquire if there is there more furniture sitting on-top of this rug, a la a couch or armchairs? How large is the room you’re working with? We ask, because there are a number of ways to utilize a round rug. For instance, you’ll want to make the rug large enough for all of a room’s major furniture pieces to touch. When measuring, remember that the rug’s curved edges could look odd if they don’t allow enough of the furniture pieces to rest on top. While you’re marinating on our inquiries, feel free to peruse our round rug options here: https://www.grandinroad.com/ProductSearch2#w=round%20rug. Hope this helps!
Very helpful information.
Thank you for your comment about having a smaller rug on either side of the bed. I am having a difficult time deciding what size rug for either size of a king size bed. What do you recommend? It’s hard looking for a 27 x 42 inch rug which is what I think I need.
Shelley – A King-Sized bed could easily accommodate a standard runner – a style we carry in a majority of our assortment. For instance, if moody blue is your hue of choice, you might love our 3’x5′ Catalina Runners alongside your King bed: https://www.grandinroad.com/catalina-area-rug/area-rugs-door-mats/indoor-area-rugs/890248. Or if bright florals strike your fancy, you’d adore our 2’3″x8′ Brighton Floral Runner: https://www.grandinroad.com/brighton-floral-area-rug/area-rugs-door-mats/indoor-area-rugs/810110. Let us know if there’s a style/color that interests you, and we’ll reply back with some more options!
Thank you for the helpful article. We have a gray sectional. I am trying to figure out what size we need for that. Any suggestions?
Rhonda – Great question! We find that in larger rooms space is anchored better when the rug goes under the sofa, allowing at least 6 inches out on each side. This especially works well with L-shaped sectional sofas! Being such a large furniture piece, you need to make sure the rug is big enough to ground it. Usually an 8’x10′ at minimum would suffice – not taking into account the room size. That being said, how large is your room?
This is helpful. I have tried so many rugs. I have made some terrible mistakes. But I can be forgiven because this is my first house even though I am a senior citizen. I was in trailers for years. So I was excited about this house. I want more blue in my living room even though I have chocolate leather furniture and a red rug under the nook for my table. I have a red striped rug but have some blue in it. I want to get a blue rug or shades of blue or turquoise. I’m not sure I can do this with so much red. I am puzzled but I love your rugs.
Well congrats on your new home, Sharon! Sounds like you love color – and we don’t blame you! We’ve got a thing for blue too… Tell us this: do you have a thing for florals as well? We can see it now… a gorgeous floral rug with notes of red, blue and brown. Something like… this: https://www.grandinroad.com/tibetan-floral-leaf-indoor-rug/area-rugs-door-mats/indoor-area-rugs/408535 – the Round, Ivory! We think it’d be a fun mix alongside a stripe rug, and the neutral background would help balance out all the different colors throughout the room. (Don’t be afraid to mix patterns!) If florals don’t do it for you, though, try a different sort of pattern: https://www.grandinroad.com/kylie-area-rug/area-rugs-door-mats/indoor-area-rugs/1005050. Kylie is one of our new favorites! While it only has hints of blue in it, we think the statement it will make against brown furniture will be well worth the compromise. To bring out those blue notes, try mixing blue + white ginger jars on the coffee table/shelves. Bring in indigo pillows like this: https://www.grandinroad.com/hilde-throw-pillow/indoor-decor/pillows-throws/912972, or this: https://www.grandinroad.com/solid-fringed-pillows/indoor-decor/pillows-throws/995111. Just some of our ideas, but we have loads more! Holler if you have any more questions! We’re here to help!
Love this opportunity, I just bought 2
Navy leather chairs and they don’t go at all in my room. I’m so disappointed. I have a light blue with Some navy and red paisley print. Then a gold sofa. . A traditional rug of cream background-brown and light blue flowers. . I have several nice pices of blue and white in the room. Sadly my room looked pretty before the new chairs. Can you help with either a new couch or rug idea.
Patricia – As talented as we like to believe we are, we think our design eyes would need to see a photo before making any recommendations. Feel free to email one or two over to email@example.com and we’ll round up a few tips for you! Hope this helps!
Thanks! Very helpful!
Nice blog, I really appreciate it. It is nice to decor the living area with hand knotted rugs. A traditional hand knotted rugs can make your house perfect and. decorative.
Thank you so much, Juanita! We agree – we’re so glad you like our tips!
Thank you for stating that when buying a rug, traditional sizing always works. I need a new rug for my living room. I will definitely take all of your great advice into consideration when buying a rug.
You’re welcome, Sadie! We’re so glad that this information was helpful.