How to select the right rug size for your room

A rug has the ability to make or break a room.  Comfort and appeal aside, a rug can define a space, allude to size and unify a room. It can also act as an anchor and focal point. To create balance and a finished look, a rug should be scaled to not only fit within the dimensions of a room but also to work with the furniture it shares the space with.

One common mistake is to select a rug that is too small for the space… as interior design experts say, go big or go home! A rug that is too small will make the room feel smaller and incomplete, whereas a larger rug will be more versatile. For this reason, choosing the right size and shape for your space is a decision you must get right.

In consideration of a room’s décor, many interior designers look to the rug as the first stop.  However, given the expense, rug shopping can be intimidating for those who aren’t in the know. While rug choice really does come down to personal preference, these informal interior design rules will help to guide your decision.

Measure Up

First things first, what is the purpose of the rug? In most instances, a rug is designed to tie the furniture together or to direct traffic within the space. Will the rug be bringing together the whole room, or will it act to define one area within an open plan space? The shape of the room, as well as the furniture within it, will provide guidance to the size and orientation of the rug.

Before venturing to a rug showroom, it’s imperative to measure the space. A rug will often look massive in a store window, but can look comparatively small when placed in a room. As a visual aid, interior designers recommend measuring the intended rug size with string, masking tape or even newspaper and laying it out where you plan for it to go, to ensure it works within the space.

If the desired effect is to section off an area with the rug, ensure furniture placement is correct and then measure around the outside of the furniture. Interior designers suggest leaving a leeway of 20-30cm from the edge of the furniture to the edge of the rug to avoid the area feel cramped or cluttered. For a whole room rug, to be used instead of carpet, the rug should sit 30cm-50 from the room’s perimeter. A rule of thumb: Choose a rug that is around 0.5m shorter than the shortest wall in the room.

Living Rooms

Often the area where people come to sit and relax, an inviting living room rug provides warmth and comfort. Apart from the practicalities a rug brings to a living room as such noise reduction, increased safety and easy cleaning, it also adds personality and appeal.

All legs on: Favoured by the pros, this technique anchors all the furniture within the space and gives a contemporary feel to the area. All legs of the furniture on the rug works best in an open plan where a group of furniture “floats” – situated away from walls. You can usually achieve this look with a 2.5m by 3.5m rug.

Front legs on: Best in circumstances where part, or all, of the furniture is against a wall, front legs on the rug, means just that. The size of the rug is proportional to the space between the pieces of furniture to allow for front legs only on the rug. Traditionally, an interior design rule has been that occasional chairs have all four legs on the rug while the sofa or lounge can have two. Once the rules are understood, they can then be experimented with. The key however, is consistency.

Coffee Table: In order to make a space feel larger in narrow or small areas, placing a rug underneath the coffee table will enhance the room’s scale. Here the rug will fill the negative space created by the offset of the furniture. As such the dimensions of the room and the space between the furniture should be considered, as opposed to the size of the coffee table being the focal point.

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Dining Room

A dining room rug creates a sense of intimacy. The shape of the room and the shape of the dining room table will influence the choice of rug. For a harmonious touch, rectangular tables work well with rectangular rugs and circular tables with circular rugs.

All legs on: Size plays an important role here. The chairs, even when pushed back, must remain on an even surface. For the perfect fit, first measure the dining table. Then push out a chair and measure from the back of the chair to the table. Multiple this by two and add this combined figure to both the width and length measurements in order find the right rug.


As any good interior designer will tell you: the hero of every bedroom is the bed. Therefore, it will be the base of the rug placement, to enhance this focal point. When the feet hit the floor they will be cushioned with the warmth of the perfect rug, so placement is paramount. The rug should ideally extend 45-70cm from either side of the bed.

All legs on: Extending beyond the bed and the associated furniture beside the bed, provides an all-encompassing look. Dressers or wardrobes along other sides of the wall should not be placed on the rug. For a queen size bed, a 2.5m x 3m rug will be large enough to create this anchored finish.

Front legs on: As the name suggests, this option is to provide rug coverage of 2/3 of the bed which aligns just shy of the nightstands. For a balanced finish, the rug extends around 45-60cm on either side of the bed and at least this at foot of the bed. To achieve this look, the best size rugs for a queen is 2m x 3m and for kings, 2.5m x 3m.

Runners either side: This is a flexible option for many beds and spaces and really is the perfect choice if one of the sides of the bed is against a wall. This look also tends to give a less formal feel. Harmony is created with a runner that doesn’t extend past the foot of the bed and is a little wider than the nightstands.

Of course, there will be times when you come across a rug that you just love and it will work in an unconventional way in your home. Finding the perfect fit is what it is all about. Understanding these guidelines will unlock the potential you see in any space with a welcoming addition of a rug.

Want to learn more insider interior design knowledge and tips? Undertaking an online course in interior design will provide you with expert advice and support. The Professional Interior Design Course offered by The Interior Design Academy will provide the first step to unlocking the interior designer within you. Get in touch with us today.