Rug Placement & Buying Guide for Each Room

Published By: Shades Of Light

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Last Updated: June 08, 2021

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Colorful mid-size living room area rug


When you’re ready to purchase a rug, how do you choose which size, shape, and style are right for you? Thinking about your rug placement on a room-by-room basis is one way to make the task of choosing a rug more manageable. Some room-specific factors, particularly room dimensions and furniture layout, will affect rug size and style choices. But other considerations, like anticipated foot traffic on your flooring, children’s and pets’ needs, and indoor-outdoor compatibility, will also play a role. This guide addresses each room’s considerations in more detail so you can make a confident choice in your next rug purchase and be ready to roll out your new rug the moment it arrives.

Living Room Rug Placement

Tan large living room area rug

Grimstad Hand-Woven Rug in a Rustic Neutral Living Room

Whether you are outfitting the living room of a brand new home or upgrading the design of your family room, a living room rug is a great investment. On a day-to-day basis, it will serve to protect carpets, soften the flooring for little ones and furry friends, and reduce echo in rooms with high ceilings and hard flooring. A living room rug can also be a crucial design element that adds color and texture to your room while visually tying furniture, lighting, and decor together into a cohesive aesthetic.

When choosing your living room rug, we recommend determining size, shape, and material needs first. Then, move on to style considerations like color, pattern, and thickness to narrow down your choices and find a rug that is quintessentially you!

Living Room Rug Sizes & Shapes

Depending on the size of your living room and your needs, you may want a large living room area rug that fills a majority of your floor space or a smaller living room accent rug that adds additional color and texture to a portion of the room.


Rug sizing guide


Rectangular or square rugs are the most popular living room rugs shapes because they create a neat foundation on which living room furniture can be arranged, and they are easy to scale to the dimensions of a typical rectangular room. Rectangle or square rug dimensions are expressed in length by width, such as 8 feet-by-10 feet (8’ x 10’).

Here are the living room rug size ranges you will find in our collection and the most common placements for them.

Large Area Rugs, 9’ x 12’ and Up: Large area rugs are one of the most common choices for a living room because of their ability to anchor the room’s design and provide maximum floor protection. We define large area rugs as measuring 50% or more of your room’s total area. For example, if you have a 12’ x 18’ living room, a 9’ x 12’ rug or larger will fill up at least half of your room’s area. Always plan to leave at least a foot of space between an area rug and the living room wall to allow the rug to stand out visually against the room’s flooring.


Blue large living room area rug

Magnolia Home Kennedy Large Area Rug in a Modern Farmhouse Living Room

Mid-Size Area & Accent Rugs, 4’ x 6’ to 8’ x 10’: The mid-sized rug range contains choices that may function well as area rugs for smaller living rooms or as accent rugs for larger living rooms. For example, an 8’ x 10’ rug would work well as an area rug in a small 10’ x 13 living room but would work better as an accent rug in a 12’ x 18’ or larger room. While an area rug will have the key pieces of living room furniture sitting partially or fully on top of it, an accent rug will only anchor a portion of the room’s furniture, like a chair and bookshelf in a reading nook.


Neutral living room accent rug

Magnolia Home Rowan Mid-Size Area Rug in a Mid-Century Modern Living Room


Vintage-inspired colorful runner accent rug

Melinda Melody Rug Accents a Sunny Living Room Plant Corner

Small Under Table Rugs, 4’ x 6’ and Smaller: Under table rugs are versatile and may be rectangular, square, or round. Square and rectangular coffee table rugs designed for only the coffee table (and not additional furniture) typically measure smaller than 4’ x 6’. An under table rug will always be large enough to fit an entire table on it and generally extend out at least 12 inches in each direction beyond the perimeter of the table, but may not necessarily touch the legs of sofas and chairs.


Cream flokati wool rug under coffee table

Superior Flokati Wool Rug Under a Chic Modern Minimalist Coffee Table


Does A Living Room Rug Need to Be Centered?

Centering a living room rug is not the only design option for a stunning look! Rug placement is all about the interplay between the rug, furniture, and the surrounding room. The only real rule to keep in mind is that placement should look thoughtful and intentional, without seeming like the rug was haphazardly chosen or improperly sized for the space.

Since there are many different styles of living room seating, there is not a one-size-fits-all rule for placing a rug under living room furniture. There are many ways to configure your rug and furniture to reflect your unique taste. How you position the rug relative to your sofa, loveseat, and accent chairs, and end tables and coffee table, is often up to personal preference, but there are a few time-tested placements that will help you to create visual cohesion between your living room furniture and your living room rugs.

Place Area Rugs Fully Under Sectional Sofas: If you have a sectional sofa, consider a large or oversized area rug that the sectional can fully sit on top of. This will eliminate any confusion about which legs of the furniture should sit on the rug.

Front Furniture Legs Can Touch the Rug: If you choose a mid-sized accent rug or an area rug that isn’t large enough to fit all of your furniture with extra perimeter room, consider placing just the front legs of your sofa and chairs on the rug. This will create the sense that all of the living room furniture is part of a cohesive design while playing up the visual contrast between the rug and the room’s flooring.

Choose One Element to Place Off-Center: Whether you want to angle an accent chair diagonally, carefully place an ottoman off the corner of a couch, or concentrate some decorative planters toward one corner of your rug, choosing one furniture piece to sit off-center on an otherwise centered rug will create visual interest. Alternatively, the rug itself can be the item that is placed carefully askew amid an otherwise symmetrically arranged room.



How to Choose a Bedroom Rug

Striped grey farmhouse bedroom rug

Magnolia Home Elliston Rug in a Rustic Cottage Style Bedroom


Once you are satisfied with your living room rug placement, we recommend shopping for bedroom rugs next. Bedroom rug placement is less overwhelming than living room rug placement because bedroom furniture is typically more uniform and therefore easier to size against than living room furniture.

Rug sizing guide

Usually, your rug will be positioned at least partially under the bed and these common placements for a bedroom rug can help guide your sizing and shape choices:

Place Your Bed and Nightstands On Top of a Large Area Rug: Similar to large living room area rugs, a large bedroom area rug that takes up more than 50% of your floor space will allow you to maximize your floor protection and provide an all-encompassing foundation on which to arrange your furniture. While this size of a large bedroom area rug will constitute the largest investment, it makes placement easy. Simply leave an equal amount of rug (we suggest 12 inches or more) around the edges of your main furniture area.

Stack Your Bed and an Accent Rug in the Corner of Your Room: If your bed is in a corner (with the headboard against one wall and the side of the bed against another) plan to leave an equal perimeter of rug exposed at the foot of the bed and along the edge of the bed that is not against the wall.

Layer a Bed Centered to One Wall Atop an Accent Rug: For beds centered against one wall, center an accent rug under the bed and plan to leave at least 12 inches of rug perimeter on the three sides that are not against the wall.

Shaggy ivory bedroom rug

Shaggy Shiloh Hand-Tufted Rug Centered Under a Bed


Place a Mid-Sized Area Rug Halfway Under Your Bed: For a slightly smaller investment and to create additional visual interest, you can choose a rug that is shorter than your bed. As long as the rug extends at least halfway under the bed and protrudes at least one foot past the front edge of the bed, you will have an accent piece that seems intentional but saves you money.

o If you have a nightstand or nightstands: Consider a rug that comes 2/3 of the way under your bed and stops just before your nightstand. This will make your nightstands stand out and play up the contrast between the rug, your bed, and the room’s flooring.

Choose a Small Rug or Round Rug to Fill Empty Space: Small rugs can make great color and texture additions to the empty floor space in a bedroom. Consider a small round rug in an interesting color and pattern, or an irregularly shaped rug, like an animal skin, to add a pop of extra style!


Charismatic teal tiger bedroom rug

Titus the Tigris Hooked Rug: An Eye-Catching Small Bedroom Rug Choice


The Biggest Bedroom Rug Don’t: Avoid placing a bedroom rug beneath your bed that does not extend past the foot of the bed. Leaving the floor under the foot of the bed exposed or placing the front edge of the rug exactly beneath the front edge of the bed will either hide the rug entirely or create a distracting and lopsided visual effect with the rug only protruding from under the sides of the bed.


Where to Put a Dining Room Rug

Colorful bohemian dining room rug

Terra Mesa Rug under a Bohemian Dining Table

Similar to bedroom rugs, dining room rugs are simple to place because they are coordinated with a key category of furniture: the dining room set! The biggest decision you will have to make in relation to a dining room rug is what to do about your chair legs. There are two main placement styles that we recommend for dining room rugs:

Put Your Table and Chairs Entirely on Top of an Area Rug: A large dining room area rug will encompass your dining set fully. As with living room and bedroom rug sizing, you will want to choose a rug with an area greater than 50% of your room’s total area and at least 12 inches wider on all sides than the dimensions of your table and chairs. When considering how much bigger your rug should be than your dining table, don’t forget to include the chairs in your calculation, especially if they are decorative and protrude well past the edges of the table.

Set Front Legs of Dining Chairs on the Rug: This is a quick way to create a fresh, modern feeling in a dining room. A mid-size dining room area rug that is at least 12 inches wider on all sides than the dining table, but only extends far enough for you to place your front chair legs on, will emphasize the contrast between your dining table, the rug, and the room’s flooring.

Rug sizing guide

We would not recommend choosing a rug that is large enough to place your table on but not any of your chair legs. The rug will be obscured by the chair legs. While this may provide some practical floor protection, you will not get to enjoy the visual enhancement that a rug can bring to the dining room.

Can a Rug Go in the Kitchen?

Rugs aren’t just for dining rooms! Kitchen rugs are a popular way to add a little bit of texture and style to your cooking space or beneath your kitchen table or breakfast nook. Because kitchens are high traffic areas prone to spills, it is a good idea to choose a low-pile rug (less than 0.25”) in a durable material that can be easily cleaned. Check product details for rugs that are machine washable or are indoor/outdoor compatible, as these will stand up better to moisture and spot cleaning than more delicate rug materials.


Home Office Rug Ideas

If you are working or studying from home much of the time, a smartly-appointed home office can help you feel organized, confident, and motivated throughout your work hours.
Neutral Color Home Office Area Rug

Mojave Hand-Tufted Rug in a Sophisticated Neutral Office

Study rug sizing and placement will depend on the size of your space and the purpose you want your rug to serve.

Office Area Rugs are sized according to the total dimensions of your room, filling at least half of the floor space. They add cohesion to your office furniture and protect your flooring.

Under Desk Rugs are sized based on your office’s central pieces of furniture – the desk and desk chair. This rug will help protect your flooring from the repetitive rolling of the office chair in and out of your under-desk space.

o Tip: Because you want an under-desk rug to facilitate easy rolling for your office chair, choose a rug with a low pile (thin rather than thick). Synthetic fibers will stand up to the repeated rolling better than natural fibers.

Reading Nook Rugs can add style and warmth to a cozy reading corner of an office.

o Tip: Pair a rug in this area with other stylish pieces like a comfy armchair, ottoman, side table, and bookshelf.

With any of these rug styles, you can add even more floor protection with a rug pad. This extra layer of protection will also keep the rug from slipping and sliding, especially on hard flooring.


Nursery & Kids' Room Rug Buying Tips

Sizing and placing a nursery or kids’ room rug is similar to sizing a rug for a grown-up’s bedroom. You can add large area rugs to children’s rooms to protect flooring and make the rooms seem more cohesive. Mid-sized rugs can be sized against a piece of furniture such as a crib, bed, or nightstand. Or you can choose accent rugs that add extra charm to special areas in your child’s room, such as a rocking area or play corner. But there are a few unique rug materials and placement considerations to take into account when choosing a rug for children’s use.

Hand-Hooked Colorful Kids’ Rug

Astoria Hand-Hooked Rug: A Colorful Kids’ Room Rug Choice


Pick a Nursery Rug that Can Keep Up with a Growing Child

Outfitting a nursery while expecting a little one can be one of the most fun and exciting ways to prepare, or “nest,” for the new member of your family! To get the most value out of your nursery purchases, we recommend choosing pieces that will suit not only your newborn but also a crawling, walking, and playing toddler. While a pricey, natural fiber rug in bright white might fit perfectly with your nursery theme, that sort of rug will show wear and tear quickly, and may become easily damaged during normal playtime activities.

Medium Pile Navy Blue Rug for Kids

Dimora Rug: Medium Pile Rug in a Darker Shade that Shows Less Wear


Look for a Kids’ Rug in a Sturdy but Thick Material


Luckily, a practical and sturdy rug can still be attractive and soft to the touch! In general, indoor/outdoor rugs are an excellent choice for nursery and children’s rooms because they will stand up well to the messes your growing child will inevitably make. Find a rug with a medium-to-high pile (between 0.25 inches and 0.75 inches) because this will provide a soft place to land while your child is crawling, toddling, and playing.

Medium Pile Sturdy Kids’ Colorful Rug

Polychromatic Braided Rug: Medium-Pile Sturdy Kids’ Colorful Rug


Invest in an Area Rug for a Playroom

Area rugs that cover at least half of the floor are particularly useful in children’s playrooms where imaginative play, arts and crafts, rough-housing, and similar activities lead to significant wear on the carpet or hard flooring. Especially if you plan to eventually convert your children’s playroom into a spare bedroom, office, or hobby space, investing in a large and durable rug in their younger years can save you money on flooring repair or re-carpeting in the future.

Large Area Rug for Kids Playroom

Magnolia Home Graham Rug – El Paso: Available in Large Area Rug Sizes


Have Fun with Your Kids’ Rug Choice!

Unlike other rooms of your home, which may have more muted color and texture choices to create a sense of calm and sophistication, nursery and kids’ room rugs can be filled with fun and whimsy! Let your imagination run wild with kids’ room rugs, and don’t be afraid to choose bold colors, fun patterns, and interesting prints that will be visually stimulating to your growing little one.

Whimsical Patterned Kids Room Rug

Up, Up, and Away Patterned Kids’ Room Rug



Protect your floors and your rugs with Rugpads

Once you’ve picked your perfect rug, don’t forget to purchase a rug pad to match! Rug pads are often overlooked but incredibly important products if you want to get the most life out of your new rug. When rugs are placed on hard floors, they can slip over the surface of the floor (this is especially true if you have pets or kids who might choose to run in less than ideal places) which creates both a tripping hazard and results in more wear and tear on the rug. Rug pads create an extra buffer between your rug and the hard floor, thus keeping the rug in place and protecting it from excessive damage. For both hard floors and carpeted floors, rug pads increase air flow beneath the rug (and reducing the risk of mildew or mold in more humid areas) and add an extra layer of cushion beneath your feet, which is always a plush plus!

Rug pads can be trimmed to the exact size you need, so don’t worry if the best rug pad for the job is a little bigger or the same size as your rug. Generally, the rug pad should be one inch shorter than your rug on all four sides.

Carpet and wood floor rug pad

Double Duty Carpet and Wood Floor Rug Pad: Protect high quality rugs and hardwood flooring with this rubber and fiber rug pad.


Rug stop rug pad

Rug Stop Rug Pad: Keep thin, light, or smaller area rugs in place with this vinyl rug pad.


Stop curing rug corners

Stop The Curling Rug Corners: Prevent curling corners on large area rugs or keep smaller rugs in rentals in place with this quick and easy solution!


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