Whether you’re moving into a new space or going through a renovation, you have to figure out where all your furniture is going to go—and one of the most important steps in arranging your furniture is figuring out the correct placement of any area rugs you plan on putting down. Let’s be honest: finding the perfect rug for your space can be quite the challenge, both in style (it’s the base for your whole room, so you need to find one you really love!) and in size, no matter how many times you measure. And it’s not always obvious how to place a rug in a living room, even if it’s a relatively straightforward space.
The good news? Determining where a rug will live in your space and how you plan to lay out your furniture on top of it will help you buy the right size every time. To help guide you, we’ve gathered expert tips from Sally Pottharst and Jodie Fried, cofounders of the rug brand Armadillo; Robert Wright and Tiberio Lobo Navia, cofounders of Beni Rugs; Cyrus Loloi, principal and CMO at Loloi Rugs; and founder and creative director Malin Glemme and designer Lisa Nyman of the rug brand Layered. Read on for their expert advice on how to place a rug in any and every room.
How to Choose the Right Size Rug for Your Space
Choose the largest size that you can elegantly fit—the more expansive the rug, the more inviting the room will feel. A good rule of thumb is that an area rug should not be more than a foot away from the baseboards.
For awkwardly shaped rooms, Fried recommends a choosing round rug that will sit in the middle of the room. “Consider whether you want to accentuate the unusual proportions or create a more conventional layout within the space,” she says. “In a wedge-shaped room or a room with a lot of angles, a round rug like our Braid or a rectangular rug with curved edges like our Étoile are great options. Our Nook Collection of small rugs also slot beautifully into those in-between spaces.”
If there’s a design element in a room that just doesn’t feel connected to the other parts of it, a rug is often the missing piece that can tie them together. Pottharst explains: “Don’t shy away from color, a weave with a lot of variation, or a highly textural rug. You’d be surprised how they can create a beautiful transition from floor to furniture. And finally, if you’re ever struggling to find the perfect rug, chat to a design expert.”
How to Place a Rug in a Living Room
In the living room, placing a rug gets a little trickier, but it still all depends on the size of your space and your plans for laying out your furniture.
“Overlapping is good!” Navia says. “A sofa paired with a rug that is too small or a rug being overshadowed by a coffee table isn’t a good look—the proportions are off, and as a result, the room doesn’t feel cohesive or finished.” He continues, “A rug is a great way to provide boundaries for a space and anchor a seating arrangement. A rug large enough to place all the furniture on it is truly luxurious. At a minimum you want at least a third of the sofa’s front on the rug. You can then choose if you’d like to have accompanying chairs near the sofa either fully on or partially on the rug. Either option can look great!”
For small and mid-sized rooms, go with a larger rug (like an 8′ by 10′) and place your large anchor furniture (i.e., the sofa) so that only the front legs are on top of it. Loloi notes that you’ll want the rug to extend beyond the sides of the sofa too.
For larger rooms, choose a bigger rug (like a 9′ by 13′) and use it to frame your space. “When selecting a rug for your living room, practical considerations should guide your choices. Placing a rug under a sofa, for instance, should involve choosing one with at least 15 inches of extra space on each side of the sofa,” says Lyman. “This not only ensures a cohesive look but also prevents the rug from overpowering the room.”
Alternately, if you’re trying to divide the room up into different spaces (like various seating arrangements or an open concept with dining and seating areas), use different rugs to define each of these spaces.
Even if the suggested rug sizes above don’t quite work with the dimensions of your home, you can still follow the same principles of placement and buy a rug based on the dimensions of your living room and your furniture.
How to Place a Rug in a Bedroom
When it comes to the bedroom, rug sizing really depends on the size of your bed. “If you’re going for a one-rug look, have anywhere between 50 and 75 percent of the bed on the rug and leave at least 18 inches of rug at the foot and sides of the bed,” advises Wright. This would mean that the ideal size for a queen bed is an 8′ by 10′, while a king would look better with a 9′ by 12′ rug (that same size works for two twin beds in a kids’ room). For a full, a 5′ x 8′ rug should suffice. “Alternatively, two small rugs (2.5′ by 4′ or 3′ by 5′) on either side of the bed is a great solution. Stepping out of bed onto soft wool in the morning is the ultimate luxury,” he says.
The preferred way of placing a rug in a bedroom is to place the rug partially under the bed. In this case, you’ll want to lay the rug perpendicular to the bed and pull it under, stopping a few inches before your nightstands so it’s around halfway under the bed, with the bed centered on top. “This maximizes the amount of useable rug space and gives you a soft surface to step onto when getting out of bed,” Loloi says. In a smaller room, you could also try just placing a rug in the middle of the room or at the foot of the bed to add interest and help pull decor together, Loloi adds.
How to Place a Rug in a Dining Room
Placing a rug in the dining room is essentially all about the experience of sitting at the dining table. You want to center the rug under your dining table and then make sure it’s big enough to accommodate all of the chairs, even when guests push them back to stand up. “For dining tables, it’s aesthetically pleasing when the entire chair comfortably fits on the rug while seated,” Glemme explains. “Choose a rug that is at least a foot or two larger than your dining table dimensions. This consideration ensures that the rug doesn’t feel too small for the dining area.”
If you’re still not sure what size to buy, pull out the chairs around your table, then measure the space so you know your rug will fit perfectly underneath. For a round dining table, a round rug creates a cohesive look.
House Beautiful’s Favorite Area Rugs
Rug Placement FAQs
Do I Have to Center a Rug in the Room?
“Rug placement doesn’t need to strictly follow centering rules, especially beneath a sofa,” says Glemme. “Aligning the rug with a fireplace or window can be visually appealing and create a more dynamic room layout. To enhance the sense of centeredness, adding a ceiling lamp directly centered above the rug subtly reshapes the perceived focal point.”
Do I Really Need a Rug Pad?
“Whether a rug pad is necessary depends on the rug type,” explains Nyman. “Flat weaves or shaggy rugs may require one, especially on certain flooring types. However, our thicker hand-tufted and hand-loomed rugs typically do not necessitate a rug pad, providing both comfort and stability.”
Kate McGregor is House Beautiful’s SEO Editor. She has covered everything from curated decor round-ups and shopping guides, to glimpses into the home lives of inspiring creatives, for publications such as ELLE Decor, Domino, and Architectural Digest’s Clever.