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How To Select a Rug

Have you ever fallen in love with a living room but couldn’t quite put a finger on one element that made it feel so magical? Next time, look no further than your feet. Incorporating an area rug into your design not only grounds your space, but adds texture and even helps with room flow. If you haven’t added a rug to your space, let that be your next purchase! Here are some tips to help you zero in on a perfectly-sized area rug for your living room.

It’s time to break out that measuring tape because in this case, size matters! The biggest mistake most people make is buying a rug that is too small. Two of the most common rug size options are 8’x10’ and 9’x12’, however, the exact measurements often vary from manufacturer to manufacturer (definitely did not learn this by experience), so be sure you know the exact dimensions before you buy.

General Rules:

  • Choose a rug that is 6-8 inches wider than your sofa on each side.

  • Position your rug so it runs the length of your sofa, and...

  • If your living room allows for it, give 30-36 inches of walkway between large furniture pieces, or at least 18-24 inches.



Taping off the rug dimensions in your space is one of my favorite tips to visualize everything BEFORE you buy, potentially saving yourself the headache of returning a very large and unwieldy area rug!


Still have that tape measure handy? Here are a few more considerations to think about -


Ideally, fitting all your conversation pieces such as sofa, accent chairs, and coffee table on the rug will help create a ‘zone’ that will naturally welcome people in and invite them to stay a while! If you can fit everything onto the rug, be sure to leave 6-8 inches of space between the furniture and the edge of the rug for a cohesive look.


Leaving 10-18 inches between the edge of the rug and the wall creates a pleasing look, and prevents it from just looking like carpet. The big exception to this rule is if your sofa backs up to a wall, then you can put it a little closer. Set your sofa a couple inches off the wall and place your rug accordingly, use your best judgment so you don’t waste valuable room space.


If you don’t have the space to fit all your furniture on the rug, try this tip that is equally eye-catching - Position just the front legs of the sofa and all the chairs on top of the rug, letting the back legs hang off and take up space. This layout gives the illusion of spaciousness. The trick here is to grab your trusty tape measure (I’ll wait), and have the rug go under each piece by about a third. Yes, it may require some rusty mental math but just measure the depth of your chair and divide by 3. For example: If your chair is 21” from front to back, make sure your rug is about 7 inches under it (give or take).



And finally, what if you have the perfect accent rug but it’s too small? It’s perfectly legal to layer rugs to get a larger effect. You can never go wrong using pieces you love. The trick is to find a pairing that really lets your rug stand out, I would usually opt with a solid, natural rug to put under your favorite vintage find.



I know selecting a rug can seem daunting, hopefully this helps make the selection process a little easier for you!


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