Area rugs are decorating powerhouses – they add color and style, anchor and define spaces, soften sounds, and act as insulation in rooms with hard floor surfaces. They can also be a decorating challenge. One of the biggest challenges can be choosing the right size rug for your space.
There are guides out there, of course, things that advise using a 8×10 rug in a 10×12 room, or that suggest keeping between 18” and 24” of bare floor around the edge of a room-size rug. Those are good guidelines, but room size alone doesn’t determine rug size. It’s also all about how you’re using the room, what your furniture arrangement is like and how traffic flows through the room. Before choosing a rug, arrange your furniture where you’d like it, then take your measurements and do your planning.
Sizing – if you do go for a large, whole-room rug, no matter how much “border” of bare floor you leave, you want it to be even – or at least even on the sides opposite each other. You don’t want a rug that’s so large it touches the baseboards.
The legs debate – there are three schools of thought on furniture legs and rugs. All legs on, all legs off and front legs on but back legs off. Neither is “right” – it’s all about your style and what works in your space.
Traffic flow – make sure that any heavily trafficked path is not “half on – half off”. It’s awkward to walk with one foot on rug and one foot on bare floor.
Dining do’s – you want to ensure there is room to maneuver chairs for easy access around a table. At the smallest, a rug should be completely under all legs of the chairs when someone is seated at the table. Ideally, there will be enough room to scoot the chair all the way back without falling off the rug. Other furniture like sideboards and hutches get placed on the bare floor.
Under the bed – you can use runners next to either side of the bed, or place the bed on a large area rug. For a large rug to look balanced, it should be large enough to extend beyond the sides of the bed. Allow at least 18” for a King or Queen and at least 12” for all other sizes, more is acceptable, but smaller will just look awkward.
Focal points and centers – if your room is formal, with a natural center, use a rug with a large, center design to accentuate the natural layout. Conversely, if your room already has a strong focal point, or is asymmetrical, it’s usually best to go with a rug that has an all-over pattern to avoid distracting from the focal point, or calling attention to the asymmetry.
Two can be better than one – if you have a large open space, use two rugs in one room to define different areas or functions. They don’t have to match, in fact, it’s more interesting to see coordinating rugs rather than matchy-matchy ones.
Bottom line – there are no hard and fast rules about the size of a rug and what works, but these guidelines should help choose the right area rug for your space and tastes.