Ideas + Inspiration

How to Choose the Perfect Rug: Sizes, Placing & Types

A contemporary area rug is one of the most important design pieces to choose from for your home. It at once provides a warmer look, delineates spaces in open floor plans, and provides the literal foundation for the style of a space. There are many considerations involved in buying a rug: Where it will go? What size it should be? Not to mention color, pattern, and durability.

Modern blue rug.
JieRug from Nanimarquina

Rug shopping certainly isn’t rocket science, and we’ll help you choose the right rug size for the room of your choice and how to place it, discover the benefits and drawbacks of different rug types and materials, and see the differences between various weaving techniques. Read on to learn:

Fitting a Rug to the Size of Your Room

modern white and grey diamond patterned rug.

Finding the right size for your rug depends on several factors, such as the room’s dimensions, the furniture you’ll be placing on it, the room’s function and the overall design you are going for in the space. Below are some general rules of thumb for picking the right size.

How to Size an Area Rug for the Living Room

contemporary and bold blue rug.

Determining the right rug size for your living room depends mostly on the placement of your furniture.

You will want to place your area rug in either the center of the room or the center of your seating area, such as under a coffee table.

To consider your rug size, you must consider the size of the area that you want to cover. Knowing this, the most standard rug sizes for the living room are:

    • 5 x 8 area rugs & 6 x 9 rugs. With a 5 x 8 rug, you will only have enough room to cover the area beneath and around the coffee table. Thus, the area under your couches and beyond will go uncovered.
    • 8 x 10 area rugs.  With an 8 x 10 rug, you can cover the area beneath the coffee table and under your couches.
    • 9 x 12 area rugs. With a 9 x 12 rug, you will be able to cover most of the floor in most living rooms, which leads to a more consistent look.

No matter which size you choose, how you position your seating should be uniform. Your seating should be positioned with either:

    • No legs on the rug – often seen with 5 x 8 rugs & 6 x 9 rugs
    • Two legs on the rug – often seen with 8 x 10 rugs
    • Four legs on the rug – often seen with 9 x 12 rugs

If one chair has two legs on, all chairs should have two legs on the rug. The added benefit of placing a rug under your seating means that your rug will stay in the same place.

If you are set on a smaller rug, it’s your space–no one will tell you not to do it. But, generally, it’s best to err on the larger side. This gives you more to work with when accommodating more difficult furniture pieces, such as sectional sofas.

How to Size an Area Rug for the Dining Room

rug and table diagram for the dining room.

Your dining room rug size should be larger than your dining table. What you do not want is dining chairs that are off-kilter and rock unsteadily. So, make sure you get one that accounts for the distance chairs get pushed back when people are sitting in them. A good starting point is to add about 36 inches to the length and width of your table (or to the diameter, if it is round).

For smaller sized dining rooms and circular coffee tables, consider using a round rug. Generally, you want round rugs to go with round dining tables, square rugs with square tables, and rectangular rugs to go with rectangular tables. Make sure to have at least 36 inches of room between the edge of the table and the end of the carpet for round rugs as well.

If your dining table is extendable, you should choose a rug based on the longest measurement of the table when it’s fully extended.

How to Size an Area Rug for the Bedroom

bedroom rug sizes and shape diagram.

You do not want the first thing your feet to land on in the morning to be cold hardwood floor, do you? Of course not. Measure your bed and add anywhere from 18-24 inches to both sides. If you have nightstands, measure from the outer edges of both. You should also account for any furniture that may rest at the foot of the bed, like an ottoman. Two or four legs should, again, fit on the rug.

Keeping that extra 18-24 inches needed for the sides of the bed, the most standard rug sizes for the bedroom are:

    • 6 x 9 area rugs – fits Full, Twin XL and Twin beds
    • 8 x 10 area rugs – fits Queen, King, and California King-sized beds
    • 9 x 12 area rugs – used to cover more area in larger rooms

Another option for adding a rug to your bedroom is through the use of modern runner rugs. Instead of covering a large portion of your rug, you can add multiple runner rugs: two along the sides of your beds from your nightstand, and another at the foot of your bed.

Rug Types: What’s the Difference?

different types of rug collage.

Part of the difficulty in picking the perfect rug is knowing what your options are. Believe it or not, the different types of rug materials and rug weaves provide a very different type of rug that can serve different purposes. Here are some questions to consider as you read about different rug types:

  • Do you expect your rug to be walked upon often with both shoes and bare feet?
  • Do you want a rug that retains heat easily?
  • Is machine-washable important for you?
  • Should your rug shed?

Types of Rug Materials

Depending on the material you select, you will get varying degrees of softness, stain resistance (hey, children and pets can be messy), durability, and frankly, price. Some of the most common materials you will find are:

1. Wool Rugs

Reliable, soft, stain-resistant, and affordable, wool is a smart choice for most rugs. If you live in a cold area, you may want to consider this material because it has excellent heat retention. On the downside, however, they are prone to shedding due to their tufted construction. Thus, you will most likely have to vacuum the rug at least once a week.

2. Silk Rugs

The epitome of luxuriousness and softness, silk rugs are a wise choice for bedrooms. However, they are sensitive to moisture and are more delicate than cotton or wool. And the elegance and comfort of these rugs often make them more expensive than other materials.

3. Natural Fiber Rugs

Crafted from jute, bamboo, and seagrass, natural fiber rugs are perfect for the eco-friendly and are among the most affordable. Some can feel scratchy and rough, so make sure to test each one before buying to make sure they are smooth and comfortable. Natural fiber rugs go best in dry rooms with a low possibility of being stained, as they can be difficult to clean.

4. Synthetic Rugs

Durable, easy to care for, and stain resistant, synthetic rugs are a good option for indoor/outdoor spaces. Though the most common materials are polypropylene and polyester, you can find a variety of durable materials found in these types of rugs.

5. Cotton Rugs

Cotton rugs are nice because they are versatile and easy to clean. Though they are less likely to shed than their wool counterparts, they are less durable. But they are machine-washable, so they are easier to maintain.

6. Cowhide and Leather Rugs

For a real statement piece of a rug, consider going the cowhide route. The lay-flat rugs add a sleek modern element to space while there’s also the option for plush leather rugs in a shag option if you’re looking for something more comfortable to lounge on.

Types of Rug Weaves

The weave of your area rug has a huge impact on how it feels and on how you will have to maintain it. Here are some of the most common weaves:

Hand-knotted Rugs

red hand knotted rug.

As the name implies, this technique involves the rug fibers being knotted by hand on a loom. This time-tested method creates durable rugs that will last you a lifetime. However, this technique comes at a higher price.

Tufted Rugs

contemporary star rug.

Attached to a latex backing, tufted rugs are made by trimming the tops of loops of yarn to create a flat, plush surface. Easy on the wallet, these rugs come in a wide variety of styles. Just keep in mind that they are prone to shedding and require frequent vacuuming.

Hooked Rugs

modern hooked rug in yellow.

Hooked rugs are basically the same as tufted rugs. Only in this instance, the tops are not lopped off, giving the rug a nubby and textured quality. This is beneficial because they shed less.

Flatwoven Rugs

bright and reversible rug.
Kilim Parquet Hexagon Rug from Gan Rugs

Reversible with the pattern visible on both sides, flatwoven rugs are great for high-traffic areas like entryways and living rooms. They are mat-like rugs that are versatile and durable. They do not come with any backing, however, so a rug pad is highly recommended with these.

Machine Made Rugs

big and fluffy machine made rug.

Machine-made rugs and woven on electric looms can encompass a wide variety of styles and materials. They are often cheaper and are highly resistant to stains. But they can crush easily, so they are best under dining tables, which have low foot traffic (but stains are likely).

As you can see, picking the perfect rug for your space depends on quite a few different factors. The rug size depends on your room size, the room in question, your furniture, and the style you hope to achieve. Meanwhile, the rug type can merely be a stylistic decision, or you can fine-tune the way you maintain your rug and the way it functions by choosing the right weave and material.


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