Choose the Right Size Area Rug for Your Bedroom

Handy Guidelines for Buying a New Rug

Bedroom with area rug.
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There’s not a room in your home that wouldn’t benefit from an area rug, but they are especially nice in the bedroom. If your room has hard floors, an area rug will help absorb sound, stabilize temperature and make it just a little bit easier to get out of bed on those oh-so-early mornings by giving your feet a soft landing pad. If your bedroom is carpeted, go ahead and layer an area rug right on top.

It’s a great way to add extra color, texture and pattern to the space. Choosing a new rug, however, can be overwhelming. For many people, determining the right size is the most confusing aspect – do you need an 8x10? A 6x9? Should the bed be on the rug or off? Is a small rug ever a good choice? Luckily, answering these questions isn't difficult once you know the basic guidelines.

Where Will You Put the Rug?

The first question to ask yourself is how you are going to use the rug. Typically, area rugs in a bedroom are under the bed. That’s not the only option, however – you might use a rug next to the bed, at the foot of the bed, or, in a large bedroom, to highlight a separate sitting area. You’ll need to know where exactly you want the rug before you can move on to choosing the right size.

General Area Rug Sizing Rules

One common mistake is picking a rug that is too small for its allotted space.

For the best look, follow a few general rules:

  • In any room, the area rug should not touch the walls. Leave at least five inches between the wall and the edge of the rug, or a minimum of eight inches if the room is large.
  • Area rugs should not push up against the edge of the dresser or other large pieces of furniture. Either choose a rug that is large enough to slip underneath the dresser, or small enough so that at least two or three inches of floor shows between the edge of the rug and the edge of the furniture.
  • If your bedroom is tiny, don’t think you need an equally tiny rug. Instead, keep the eyes moving with an area rug large enough to fill the entire room, leaving just a couple of inches bare between the rug and the walls.
  • If the bedroom or closet door will swing over the rug, check that the bottom edge of the door is high enough to clear the rug without dragging.

Area Rugs Under the Bed

You have two options for positioning a rug underneath the bed: the bed (along with the nightstands) sits entirely on the rug, or the lower two-thirds of the bed sits on the rug, leaving the top of the bed and the nightstands on bare floor. In either case, the rug needs to extend at least twelve inches out from the sides and the bottom of the bed if it’s a twin or full mattress, and at least eighteen inches out from the sides and bottom of a queen or king mattress.

Use the following rough guidelines for a queen or king size bed:

  • 9x12 rug to hold the entire bed, the nightstands, and a bench at the foot of the bed.
  • 8x10 rug to hold the entire bed, the nightstands, but no bench.
  • 8x10 rug to hold the bottom two-thirds of the bed and a bench.
  • 6x9 rug to hold the bottom two-thirds of the bed with no bench.

Use the following rough guidelines for a twin or full size bed:

  • 6x9 rug to hold the entire bed, the nightstand, and a bench at the foot of the bed.
  • 5x8 rug to hold the bottom two-third of the bed and the nightstands.
  • 9x12 rug to hold two twin beds, nightstands, and benches.

Rugs Next to the Bed

If you have beautiful hardwood floors, you might like showing them off, but hate the feel of cold floor on your bare feet. In that case, soften the blow with an area rug running along the side of the bed – both sides if your bed is shared with a partner, you want a symmetrical, traditional look, or your bedroom is large. You’ll want the rug to be big enough to fill most of the space, but remember that at least five inches of bare floor should show between the edge of the rug and the edge of the furniture or the wall. Generally, the best choices – depending on the size of the room – are either a runner the same length as your bed, a 2x3 rug in a small space, or a 3x5 rug if you have more room.

Rugs at the Foot of the Bed

You might choose an area rug for the foot of your bed only, or pair it with another rug at the side of the bed. Either way, the same rules apply: the rug should be large enough to fill most of the space, yet small enough to leave several inches of bare floor showing along the wall or the edge of furniture. If you have a bench at the foot of your bed, the rug should be large enough to fully extend underneath the bench, up to the foot of the mattress. In most bedrooms, a 4x6 is a good size.

Separate Sitting Areas

If your bedroom is large enough to hold a separate sitting area, reading nook, desk, or work area, use an area rug to define the space. For the best appearance, choose a rug large enough to hold all the furniture in this zone, but remember that you don’t want the rug to run up against the walls, the other bedroom furniture, or the bed.

Keeping Your Area Rug in Place

While the right area rug can add a huge dose of style and color to your bedroom, if that rug slips, slides, or bunches, not only is its appearance spoiled, but it also becomes a tripping hazard. 

Sliding or slipping is likeliest to occur when a rug is placed over a hard floor such as wood or laminate. Luckily, this problem is fairly easy to solve; a nonstick, rubbery rug mat placed underneath the rug should keep it in position. The right rug mat is just a few inches smaller than your rug -- too small, and the mat won't be able to anchor the rug, too large, and the mat will protrude from the rug's edges. 

It's a bit trickier to solve the problem of an area rug bunching on top of carpet, but it can be done. First, anchor at least one edge of the rug with furniture. If bunching is still a problem, try two-sided rug tape strips underneath the problem areas. This will usually keep your rug in place, but if it still bunches or wrinkles, add a nonslip rug mat.