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  • Jodi Maturo

The Trick to Sizing an Area Rug in Any Room

Choosing the right size area rug can sometimes feel daunting. Ever wonder how interior designers always pick the right size rug for a room? We’ve created some guidelines for sizing your area rug that will help demystify the process. Whether you're redecorating your lifelong home, staging your house to sell, or decorating your first apartment, this guide will help you get it right.

1. Consider the Furniture Layout You might be surprised to learn that the very first thing I consider when sizing an area rug, is how the furniture in the room will be laid out. For example, if you’re floating your furniture in the room, rather than pushing it up against the walls, you'll likely need a larger size rug. This means that planning your furniture layout is a critical first step in the process. On that note, please don't immediately dismiss the idea of floating your furniture away from the walls. Its a common misconception that it will make the room feel smaller, but it almost always makes a living room feel more spacious.

Living Room Furniture Arrangement with area rug

2. Is my Area Rug too Small? I’m going to walk you through the process I use at Jodi Maturo Design to determine the right size rug. Now that you’ve decided which furniture arrangement is best for your room (see step 1 above), you are ready to size your rug. If you’ve decide to arrange your room with the furniture pushed against the walls like the image show to the left, you’ll be able to get by with a slightly smaller rug. In this layout, it’s perfectly fine if all four legs of your furniture pieces don’t fit on the rug. In fact, that’s considered fairly standard. Start by placing your furnishings in the desired location. For sofas, love seats, and sectionals, you want the area rug to extend a minimum of 5-8” under the sofa, so that only the front legs sit on the rug. Many times the sofa itself visually blocks the view of the rug underneath, so it’s not necessary that it extends very far past the front legs. For side chairs, you have lots flexibility; once again, it’s okay if the back legs fall off the rug.

One of my most useful planning techniques is to place colored painters tape on the existing floor to outline the dimensions of your rug before you buy it (and even your furnishings, if you haven’t purchased them yet). It’s a fantastic way to accurately test out your room layout, before you make a big purchase or incur delivery fees.

Living Room Furniture layout with area rug

If you chose to float your furniture on an area rug in the

center of the room, like the drawing to the right, it’s likely that you’ll need a larger scale rug. In an ideal world, you want the bulk of your furnishings to fit on the rug (or that only a small portion of a furniture piece hangs over). When you arrange the furniture, you definitely don’t want it to feel too crowded by squeezing the furniture onto a rug that’s too small. For instance, make sure you have ample room to walk between the chairs/sofa and your coffee table. I personally like to leave a healthy clearance of about a 24 inches. If the furniture doesn’t fit comfortably on the rug, that's a good clue that your rug might be too small. Or if you prefer, you could look for smaller scale furnishings instead; this is especially helpful if you have bulky overstuffed furniture.

3. How does the size of my room relate to the rug size? A well sized area rug covers approximately 3/4 of the floor in the room. Even if you don’t like the wood or tile flooring underneath your rug, and want to cover it up, you should resist going too large. It just feels “off” to have an area rug that nearly fills up the entire room. Likewise, a rug that’s too small for a room makes the whole space look strange. Generally speaking, if you shoot for that 75% range, give or take, you’ll have an area rug that fits the scale of your room. And remember, if your living room has wood or tile floors, it definitely needs an area rug to make it feel more inviting and help ground the space.

4. What about area rugs for dining rooms and bedrooms? Yes, different rules apply to these rooms. For dining rooms, I recommend that the rug extend a healthy 2 feet past the table edge, on all sides. This extra room ensures that when the chairs are pulled out and in use, all four legs of the chair still sit on the rug. When the back legs of a chair hang off the rug, it might feel wobbly or uncomfortable when you're seated.

As for bedrooms, you have many more size and placement options to overlay your wood or tile floor. While it’s perfectly fine to use a large rug that sits under the entire bed, it can be visually interesting to place a smaller rug in a variety of different positions. Positioning a 5x7 rug on only one side of the bed, extending lengthwise from the head to the foot, is a beautiful option. (This arrangement is perfect for beds with a single sleeper.) I sometimes like to place a 5x7 rug at the foot of the bed, so that only the bottom two legs of the bedframe sit on the rug. If you have a roomy master suite with extra space around the foot of the bed, you can place an upholstered bench on top of your area rug for an added touch.

Area rugs add tremendous interest and texture to a room, so I hope these sizing guidelines give you the confidence to add a rug to your room. Of course, these guidelines are merely rules of thumb and you might find, from time to time, that deviating may better serve your design needs. Please don't let them constrain your creativity! In any case, if you’re still not sure how to select the right area rug, consider seeking the advice of an interior designer in your area or call Jodi Maturo Design directly at 303-378-1220.


Looking for interior design support in the Denver Metro area, contact Jodi Maturo Design LLC to schedule a consultation. We're just a call or text away at 303-378-1220.


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