How Big Should An Area Rug Be?

Area rugs are used to:
- Cover walking spaces in entries and halls.
- Define seating arrangements.
- For warmth and texture at the foot of a bed.

Area rugs can be tricky.

I am often asked by friends and clients, “How large should my area rug be?”  And, I often notice rugs that aren’t quite the right size for a space.

There are a lot of varying “rules” out there, and just as many opinions.  Some say all furniture legs on the rug, some say just the front legs on the rug, some say no legs on, and others say a rug should be the size of the space minus 18 inches on each side.

I tend to subscribe to the rule that the rug should be large enough to slide under the front legs of sofas and chairs in a seating arrangement.  This anchors and unifies a space. 

The photo below shows this concept.


However, this doesn’t always work.  Let’s take our new cow hide rug as an example.  It is an irregular shape.  Who would want to place all furnniture around those catawampus lines?  That makes no sense.


So, in that case, the chair in my master bedroom may not have it’s legs on the rug at all or maybe just one leg barely on.

The most common mistake with rugs is that they are too small for the space and end up feeling like they are what I call, floating.  Nothing is anchored to them. They are anchored to nothing.

contemporary living room by 

Though the room above is a very pretty room, (I love the rug) you can see the floating affect. 
However, the exception would be a hallway or closet. 

traditional hall by Gast Architects

The rugs in this space is used to lead the visitor into the home. 

Rather than legalistically following any specific rules, I would simply be aware of the rules and then see what makes sense in your space.


  1. Kristin @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

    I love rugs, I'm on the hunt for one but the ones tha have caught my eye are too expensive :(
    Thanks for your visit!

  2. Great post! Thanks for the laugh…"catawampus lines" made me giggle:) I love the purple and white rug!

  3. Chandeen @ Designed by Chance

    I so agree with this advice. I have found the right rug to be great.

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