A great rug can benefit almost any room of the house, but living rooms especially are often great homes for area rugs. Finding the perfect rug can be difficult, but if you can manage it, the entire look and feel of a space can be changed for the better. Whether you’re looking to complement the existing décor of your living room or bring in a new pattern, texture, or color, a rug is a great and affordable way to change up the look of a room. The trickiest part of choosing your new rug, however, will often be the sizing of it. Many inexperienced decorators often gravitate toward rugs that are too small for the rooms that they occupy.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of tried-and-true guidelines that will help you to choose the best rug size for your unique room.
What are the standard sizes for living room rugs?
The type of rug that you’ll be looking at for your living room is likely called an “area rug”. These rugs are larger than the smaller accent rugs that you might place in other rooms, like kitchens or bathrooms, and are usually available in two standard sizes: 8’ by 10’, and 9’ by 12’. Keeping these two standard sizes in mind can help you narrow down your options when rug shopping, as well, since some rugs are only available in a single size.
Which area rug size is best for my living room?
Your existing furniture will help inform your rug decision as well. Most living rooms have a couch or side table as the largest furniture item, and as a general rule, your sofa should be at least six to eight inches wider than your couch on each side. If you go smaller than this recommendation, your rug and couch will likely pair awkwardly together and make the combination feel unbalanced. We usually advise placing the longest side of your rug adjacent to your sofa, too, in order to create a pair of parallel lines that are pleasing to the eye.
Your other items of furniture, like chairs, cabinets, and side tables, can also help you choose the perfect rug. In order to allow for a comfortable arrangement of furniture, a distance of 30” to 36” in walking paths will make your layout easy to navigate. If your living room is especially small, this may be impossible, but we strongly encourage you to keep spaces of no less than 18” in these areas in order to make the space feel less cramped.
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I’ve set my furniture arrangement now what?
Once you’ve moved your major items of furniture, like couches, chairs, side tables, and entertainment centers, to their final locations, you should be able to get a good idea of the size rug you’ll be shopping for. As you look through catalogs, online stores, or home décor departments, make sure that you take note of the sizes of the rugs you’re considering. This way, before you make your purchase, you can test the size of your rug in your living room at home by laying down strips of painter’s tape in the desired configuration. This will help you visualize the rug size and shape in the context of your home.
If you want all of your furniture, like coffee tables and chairs, to fit on your rug, make sure that your rug is large enough to leave around an 8” border around the outer edges. After taping in your rug mock-up is a great time to test this!
What if I don’t want all my furniture on the rug?
That’s okay too! In fact, most living room arrangements play by what we call the “front legs” rule. This means that every piece of furniture is one-third-on, two-thirds-off the rug, making the arrangement feel less formal and more inviting, which is the look that most people tend to strive for.
Is there such thing as too BIG of a rug?
In short, yes. While most decorators tend to make the mistake of making their rug too small, doing the opposite can be equally as bad. Leaving less than a foot and a half of empty for between the rug and the walls of your living room will make the sizing feel awkward as if you’re trying to emulate the feel of wall-to-wall carpeting. The exception to the rule is if your couch is against a wall—in that case, just leave a few inches for “breathing room”.
The only time that you’ll likely need to worry about making this mistake, though, is if you have an extremely small living room. If that’s the case, consider sizing down your rug, or if that’s impossible, consider an accent rug under a chair or coffee table instead of an area rug. Just make sure that your furniture isn’t too far away from the edges of your rug, or the arrangement will feel awkward.
What if I have an awkwardly-shaped rug?
You might not be rug shopping—you might already have a great rug in mind but aren’t sure that it will work for your space. You can make everything easier by layering the oddly-shaped rug over another, more traditional rectangle or square rug. You can place the smaller rug directly in the center, or you can place it at the edge and spread it off onto the floor to make the space feel larger and more dynamic.
What if I have a room that’s awkwardly-shaped?
Rectangles and squares don’t work for every living room—but luckily, there’s a wide variety of rugs available to choose from, especially with online shopping. Circles, ovals, fur rugs, and other shapes can be found to suit your space and highlight unique architectural features like fireplaces, built-ins, and angled walls.
Overall, the thing that matters most is that you like how your space looks. The above rules are just some general guidelines we’ve gathered through our years of experience. You can ditch them all if you’d like! We just hope that we’ve made the process of choosing the rug a little less intimidating. Happy decorating!