What size rug do I need?

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I get questions like this all the time: “My room is 15’ x 12’—what size rug do I need?” The answer? Well, it depends. (Helpful, right?)

Seriously, though, it really does depend on a number of different things. That’s why I usually answer questions like this with more questions. First, and foremost, what furniture do you have in the room and how is it arranged? Where are the doors and windows? Do you have a fireplace and/or built-ins? Are there air vents or electrical outlets on the floor? I can’t just say “10’ x 13’” and leave it at that.

Rule #1

Aside from things like not having your rug hang halfway into a door/walkway (trip hazard), not putting the rug too close to the fireplace (fire hazard), and not covering up floor vents and plugs (lack-of-common-sense hazard), there really are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to rug size. It’s more like rules of thumb, so let’s try that again.

Rule of Thumb #1

You don’t want your rug to look like a postage stamp on your floor. Yes, you may see this exact situation in furniture stores, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to look right in your home. Furniture stores are more interested in the logistics of their store—ease of swapping the rug out for another, being able to squeeze as many vignettes together as possible—than they are in using the rug size that would be best for YOUR room.

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A rug that fits under at least the front feet of the seating arrangement is best.

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Here’s another view to show the difference between the two:

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Rule of Thumb #2

When choosing a rug for your dining room, don’t forget to leave enough room for chairs to be pulled out without coming off the rug. Two feet on each side is a good number to remember.

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Rule of Thumb #3

It’s really tempting in the bedroom to use a small rug on each side of the bed instead of one large rug. I get it—larger rugs can get expensive and it seems silly to have half of it covered up by the bed. Trust me, though, the extra warmth, comfort, and overall look is worth the extra cost. 

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For those of you who have difficulty visualizing how different sized rugs would look in your space, I’ve got a bonus tip: Use painter’s tape on your floor to map out the size of the rug you’re thinking about. (This is also a great way to see how any piece of furniture, a mirror, or artwork would fit in a room.) Painter’s tape comes up easily and its bold color makes it easy to see where the edges of the rug would be.

3M Delicate Surfaces Painter's Tape (via Lowe's)

3M Delicate Surfaces Painter's Tape (via Lowe's)