How to Select the Right Size Area Rug

A cabin with a perfectly sized area rug
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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.

Standard Sizes

So how do you determine the size of your rug? If you are looking at 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, keeping in mind that they will vary by several inches either bigger or smaller:

  • 3' x 5'
  • 4' x 6'
  • 5' x 8' (note: this has replaced the 6' x 9' size that was formerly standard)
  • 7' x 10'
  • 8' x 11'
  • 9' x 12'

Typically, the manufacturer will offer the rug in three or four of the sizes listed above, so be sure to check the sizes available when you are looking at 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.

How to Determine Size

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, an area rug will set it off, enhancing its beauty.

I usually recommend deciding on the appropriate size of rug based on your furniture configuration, not based on the room size. There are no hard and fast rules for specific room sizes, such as requiring a certain amount of floor be visible around the edge of the room (except for rooms with no furniture; see below). Rather, to determine the best rug size for your space, consider your furniture placement.

Rugs by Room

Check out these articles for tips on choosing the proper rug size for each room:

Hallway and Foyer

For areas of the home that have no furniture, such as hallways and foyers, rug size can be determined based on how much floor space to leave exposed around the edges of the room. For large areas, a bit more of the floor can show; usually anywhere from 12 inches up to 24 inches. For smaller areas, decrease that amount; 8 or 6 inches could be enough.

Tape Trick

If you are the type of person who has trouble visualizing rug size, here is a trick to help you before you go shopping: measure out a floor space based on the size you think you require, according to the standard sizes listed above. Then, using a 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!

One Final Point

Finally, there is one last rule about determining the size of an area rug: rules are made to be broken! The above "rules" are merely guidelines; you alone can determine what is best for your home because you are the one who has to live in it! Your home should be a reflection of you, so if you feel like breaking any of the above rules, I say go for it!