The Simple Rule for Choosing the Right Rug Size Every Time

Make no mistake

Updated 04/29/19
a living room with a graphic rug and colorful furniture
Courtesy of Katie Martinez

Choosing an area rug size may seem simple at first glance—surely you can just eyeball it, right? Wrong. There is much more than meets the eye to choosing a rug size that will fit your space and furniture perfectly. Yes, it's science that interior designers have perfected for decades, but it's actually easy to follow, and it follows one simple rule: Measure twice. 

Interior designers often warn that the biggest decorating mistake they notice is area rugs that are too small for the space. "I'm a firm believer that the rug is a unifying element that pulls a room together and should anchor the furniture pieces," interior designer Stefani Stein recently told MyDomaine. "Sometimes finding the perfect rug in the perfect size can be tricky, and going custom isn't always an option. So if the rug of your dreams isn't quite the right scale, try layering. Just be careful to avoid textural overload."

In most rooms, the rules are simple: Leave at least six inches between the end of the rug and the walls (or counters in the case of kitchens); leave all furniture legs off rugs in busy thoroughfares like entryways and hallways, and let the space dictate your choice of rug size. But in other rooms—the bedroom, the living room, and the dining room—the rules are a little trickier. Ahead, we break down everything you need to know for choosing an area rug size.

In the Bedroom

Choosing an Area Rug Size: a bedroom with a curtained bed and rug
Courtesy of Alexander DB

When choosing a rug for your bedroom, you have the option to follow three main rules, all focusing around the bed as the focal point.

The first option is to have all legs of the bed and surrounding furniture—like nightstands and a bench at the foot of the bed—on the rug. With this option, you should leave 18 to 24 inches of space around the outer edges of the furniture. As a general rule, for a king or queen bed, a 9-by-12-foot rug is ideal if you have a bench at the foot of the bed. If you don't, an 8-by-10-foot rug should suffice. For a twin or full-size bed, aim for a 6-by-9-foot rug or bigger.

The second option is to have two-thirds of the bed on the rug—meaning the rug should start just slightly in front of your nightstands. Here, the rug should extend 18 to 24 inches on each side of the bed (including the foot of the bed). For this layout, consider an 8-by-10-foot rug for a queen bed and a 9-by-12-foot rug for a king. This layout can also work if you have a deeper piece of furniture at the foot of your bed, like a small sofa or settee.

Lastly, you can opt to simply have runners on each side of the bed, which is a great option if other larger rugs don't fit in your room or if your layout is asymmetrical. Look for runners that won't extend beyond the bed itself but that slightly wider than the nightstands.

Shop for Bedroom Rugs

Blu Dot Uni Rug
Blu Dot Uni Rug $899 $719
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Linie Designs Lucens Rug
Linie Designs Lucens Rug $904
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Jayson Home Safi Rug
Jayson Home Safi Rug $65
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ABC Home Vintage Cicim Flat Weave
ABC Home Vintage Cicim Flat Weave $1000 $600
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In the Living Room

Choosing the Right Area Rug Size: a living room with a large purple rug
Courtesy of Katie Martinez

In the living room, choosing an area size more or less follows the same rule as in the bedroom, and depends on a few factors.

The first option is to have all furniture legs—including the sofas and accent chairs—sitting on the rug. With this layout, the rug should extend at least six inches past each piece of furniture. The ideal size for this option is a 9-by-12-foot rug or larger.

In a smaller space, you can also opt to have only the front legs of the furniture sitting on the rug. This works especially well if a sofa is up against a wall. When laying out your furniture, ensure that only the front legs of all pieces are sitting on the rug. Consider an 8-by-10-foot or 9-by-6-foot rug for this layout.

Lastly, you could choose to only have your coffee table on the rug and leave your living room seating off the rug, though interior designers warn that this is the number one decorating mistake they notice in homes as small rugs can actually make your space look even smaller.

West Elm Lucent Rug
West Elm Lucent Rug $499 $399
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Jayson Home Oslo Rugs
Jayson Home Oslo Rugs $195
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West Elm Klaus Haapaniemi Lynx Rug
West Elm Klaus Haapaniemi Lynx Rug $999 $499
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CB2 Scatter Light Pink Rug
CB2 Scatter Light Pink Rug $299
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In the Dining Room

Choosing a Rug Size: a dining room with a blue rug
Courtesy of Katie Martinez

In the dining room, there is one simple rule to follow when choosing a rug: Make sure that all chairs sit comfortably on the rug by making sure that the rug extends 36 inches beyond all sides of the table (and no less than 24 inches). This goes for both rectangular and round rugs. 

If you want to make sure that you're choosing the right area rug size for your dining room table, simply add at least 60 inches to the length and the width of your table to get your ideal rug size. For instance, a 40-by-60-inch table should be paired with at least an 8-by-10-foot rug but would work best with a 9-by-12-foot rug. For round tables, add at least 60 inches to the diameter. 

Linie Designs Piano Rug
Linie Designs Piano Rug $598
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CB2 Darjeeling Rug
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TRNK Tres Vegetal Rug
TRNK Tres Vegetal Rug $1801 $1441
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ABC Home Contempoary Linen & Wool Rug
ABC Home Contempoary Linen & Wool Rug $5600
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