How to Select the Right Size Area Rug

The Spruce Home Marcella Area Rug in a Living Room

The Spruce / Amy Cooper

The size of an area rug can dramatically alter the room's overall effect. A rug that is too small for your space can cause the room to feel uninviting. A rug that is too large for the room can, paradoxically, make the room feel smaller. The right-sized area rug will bring warmth and balance to the room, creating the perfect finishing touch.


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Standard Sizes

When purchasing a pre-made patterned rug, such as an Oriental or Persian rug, start by considering the standard sizes available. Usually, area rugs are available in the following "standard" sizes. (Keep in mind that they may vary by several inches either bigger or smaller.):

  • 3 feet by 5 feet
  • 4 feet by 6 feet
  • 5 feet by 8 feet (Note: This has replaced the 6 feet by 9 feet size that was formerly standard.)
  • 8 feet by 10 feet
  • 9 feet by 12 feet

Typically, the manufacturer will offer the rug in three or four of the standard sizes. Be sure to check on the sizes available when you look for rugs, to ensure that the rug you like is available in the size you want.

Of course, if you have your area rug custom-made, you have the luxury of having it made to whatever exact size you wish. This is a huge benefit to having your rug made out of broadloom, especially if your space would best suit a non-standard size.

standard rug sizes illustration

The Spruce / Hilary Allison

How to Determine the Size You Need

The most common mistake people make when buying an area rug is choosing a size that is too small for their space. Often, they have just spent a good deal of money on a new hard surface flooring underneath, such as hardwood or laminate, and they can't bear the thought of covering up too much of it. This is an understandable concern. But rather than hide the floor underneath, the right area rug will set it off, enhancing its beauty.

It's often recommended to decide on the appropriate size of rug based on your furniture configuration, not based on the specific room size. Some layouts look better with allowing a certain amount of the floor to be visible around the edge of the room. So, the main guideline to determine the best rug size is to always consider the furniture placement over the room size. This "rule" is especially true for placing a rug in a living room, dining room, or bedroom.

area rug in a bedroom
​The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi

Hallway and Foyer Area Rugs

For areas of the home that have no furniture, such as hallways and foyers, rug size is determined based on how much floor space to leave exposed around the edges of the room. For larger areas, a bit more of the floor can show; usually anywhere from 12 inches up to 24 inches. For smaller areas, decrease that amount; six or eight inches should be enough.

area rug in a foyer
​The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi

Use the Tape Trick to 'See' the Area Rug

If you are having trouble visualizing how a rug size fits a specific room, here is a trick to help you. Before you go rug shopping, measure out a floor space based on the size you think you'd require, according to the standard sizes listed above. Then, using removable masking tape or something similar that will not damage your floor, tape off the area you just measured. You will be able to see the outline of where the rug would end, helping you to see how a rug of that size would fit into your space. Once you are satisfied with the size of your taped-off area, you are ready to go rug shopping!

the tape trick to envision the area rug
The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi

One Final Point

Finally, there is one last rule about determining the size of an area rug: rules are made to be broken. These are only guidelines, and only you can determine what is best for your home because you are the one who has to live in it. The main thing is to take your time with the decision and shop around, since investing in a quality area rug is a major expense. Your home should be a reflection of your taste, so if you feel like breaking any of the rules, go for it.

an area rug on top of carpet
​The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi