I am a big fan of area rugs in helping my clients design their interior spaces.  It is one of the easiest ways to update or completely change the look of a room.  The right area rug can go a long way in creating an inviting environment, anchoring a space, absorbing sound and adding an important aesthetic feature to a room.

I often hear from my clients that they don’t know where to start when searching for an area rug and feel overwhelmed by the process.  While I am not one to spout about “rules”  (interior design is an art not a science after all),  I will provide some general guidelines for your consideration.  But, remember,  these are guidelines as every room and the furnishings that comprise it are all different. Don’t be afraid to “bend the rules” a little.  I try to keep in mind the overall balance, scale and proportion of a room and its furnishings when selecting an area rug. However, here are some tips for those of you who do not have an interior design professional to guide you.

One of the first “rules” you will often hear is:  either all of the furniture is on the rug or all of the furniture is off the rug.  The images below will show examples of both.

This photo below shows a grouping of chairs and a central cocktail ottoman all placed on top of a soft, textured, slightly shaggy rug.  This is a great way to pull all of the pieces of furniture together that are otherwise “floating” in the room. That is to say, none of them is up against a wall.  The rug runs lengthwise with the direction of the room and is centered with the focal point which is the fireplace in this example.

conversational area rug

This second room shows a family room where the area rug is a substantial size but all of the seating is placed around the rug exposing the beautiful hardwood floors. The coffee table anchors the rug, and again, the rug runs horizontally in the same direction as the room and is centered with the fireplace.

Living room rug

The first step is to measure the size of the seating area in the room. If it is a very large size room, it is often preferable to select a rug that is the next closest size up from the size of the seating area where all of the pieces are placed on the rug (give or take a few inches). If you use a rug that is too small for a grandly scaled room, it will look like a postage stamp, and the room will not appear unified.

As far as the right shape of rug, keep in mind the shape of the room.  For example, a square rug really only works well in a square room or under a square dining table.  Round rugs work best in foyers or underneath a round casual dining table.  When determining the best size for a dining room rug, ideally it should extend approximately 2 feet or more from the perimeter of the table to allow for the chair legs to sit on the rug.  If space permits, I prefer to allow approximately 12″ between the edge of the rug and the walls of the room for larger sized rugs.

Don’t forget about the foyer!  The rug you select for this entry sets the stage for the rest of your home. Save the doormat for outside.  Measure the size of the space, and select a rug that is in proportion.  Ideally, the width of the rug should be at least as wide as the entry door and preferably extend a few inches beyond that.  I like to allow some space on either side of the rug to allow the hardwood or tile floors to show.  Where possible, the rug should be centered underneath the chandelier in the foyer.

If you have a favorite rug that is really too small for a room on its own, consider layering it on top of a sisal or seagrass rug. This is a popular interior designer trick.  Animal hide (faux of course!) work very well using this technique.  I also will place area rugs in a room that has wall to wall carpeting especially if it is a very large room where we need to anchor the space or define separate seating areas.

I hope you find this information helpful!  Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to break the rules (a little).

Love Where You Live!

Living room rug