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Choosing the Right Size Area Rug for A Room

By Susan Welch Heeney, ASID ~ Decorating Studio, LLC

It doesn't seem like it would be a huge problem: you chose the right healthcare plan for your family, easily chose a very expensive automobile to drive to the job you picked over several other fabulous offers. So why is it so hard to decide what size an area rug should be for a space or room?

The problem could be that there are so many "rules of thumb" about the correct size of a rug, and there are also many opposing opinions. That doesn't help, but here are some basic facts about rug size vs room size that may help you. But remember, there are no hard rules here. It's your home; if you like the look and the effect of a particular rug in your home, then it is perfect.

1. Most people feel that to leave at least 18" of bare floor space around an area rug makes the room look better proportioned. If it is a very small room (such as a foyer or entry way) you can get away with having less than 18" of bare floor showing around the rug. Possibly even 8" in a small space.

If you want to follow the rule of thumb above, here are some popular (standard) rug sizes that may work well for you:

Guidelines for Selecting A Room Sized Rug
Standard Size Rug
Approximate Room Dimensions
3' 0" x 5' 0" - Size Area Rug
For Room Size:
4' 6" x 6' 6" to 5' 0" x 7' 0" & larger
5' 0" x 8' 0" - Size Area Rug
For Room Size:
6' 6" x 9' 6" to 7' 0" x 10' 0" & larger
8' 0" x 10' 0"-Size Area Rug
For Room Size:
9' 6" x 11' 6" to 10' 0" x 12' 0" & larger
9' 0" x 12' 0" -Size Area Rug
For Room Size:
10' 6" x 13' 6" to 11' 0" x 14' 0"" & larger
10' 0" x 15' 0 -Size Area Rug
For Room Size:
11' 6" x 16' 6" to 12' 0" x 17' 0" & larger
  • The above sizes are obviously for reference only, simply because; although rugs may come in standardized sizes, rooms do not.
  • Also, keep in mind that the above chart is helpful if you want to follow the 18" to 24" of bare floor showing around a room sized rug "rule of thumb".
  • Most people feel that 18" of bare floor is the minimum around a rug, but that there is really no maximum amount of bare floor that should show.
  • If it is a very small room (such as a foyer or entry way) you can get away with having less than 18" of bare floor showing around the rug - possibly just 8".

2. Arrange your furniture before determining the size of a new area rug. It generally makes a room look more pulled together for all of the legs of the furniture to be resting on a room sized area rug. Or, if it is just a small area rug, you may want all of the legs of the furniture to be off the rug instead. All legs on, or all legs off is a good "rule of thumb" to keep in mind.

3. Under the Dining Room table, or any table that has a rug under it, it is much easier to maneuver the chairs for easy access to the table if there is at least 24" of rug from the edge of the table out on all sides. This will allow the back legs of the chairs to be on the rug, even when the chair is pulled out slightly while someone is sitting down.

4. For an area rug to look balanced under a bed, it should be large enough to extend beyond the sides of the bed at least 18" for a King or Queen bed and at least 12" for a Full or Twin bed. Depending on the size of your room, you can have more of a rug extension around the bed, but you shouldn't go smaller.

5. It is generally considered awkward for a heavily traffic area to be half rug, and half "no rug". Basically, you don't want one foot on a rug and one foot off as you are walking through an area constantly.

So, to sum it up - there are no real rules about the size of a rug vs the size of the room, but hopefully this has given you some guidelines to follow when selecting your area rug.

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