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Tips to Choosing the Right Rug Size

what rug size

Buying a rug is like buying a dress for your grandma  –  it can be kinda overwhelming, there are a lot of factors to consider, and if you buy one that is too small she just might wear it out of obligation and then you’ll have to live with yourself as the weird guy that bought their grandma a tube dress, that she wore to your cousin’s baptism.

How to choose the right rug size for your space is difficult, especially when rugs are notoriously kinda expensive and therefore intimidating. In general people buy rugs that are too small because 5×7 and 6x9s are so much cheaper than 8x10s or 9x12s, but its often going to make the whole space look chopped up and accidental so in a way you’ve just wasted that money. Tough love, folks.

Here are some tips that you can follow to help you decide:

1. Measure the size of your SEATING AREA before shopping and get the closest size up from that. If your budget is tight and your room is small you can have a smaller rug that floats in front of all the furniture – this is especially ok if your sofa is backed up against the wall – you don’t need to waste the rug real estate under the sofa if you can’t even see that its there. But if your furniture is floating or if your room is big, get a larger rug or else it will make the room look smaller, chopped up and totally out of proportion. One of the main functions of a rug is to pull the room together, not chop it up.

Here it looks fine to have them floating because its a smaller room, sofa against the wall. (Scott’s house, shot by me).

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 8.56.13 AM

But here, in my house its way too small because the room is a lot bigger and the furniture is floating:

what rug size should i have

2. Orient the rug to the room – If you have a long rug, orient it length – wise. If you have more of a chubby fat room, orient it horizontally.  This is not always the case so its a very nuanced situation. Often if you have a really long and skinny room then you might have two different seating areas and two rugs that are oriented with those seating areas, but the rugs need to cover up a certain amount of real estate on the floor in proportion to the room, so if you are orienting the rug to your sofa, not your room then often you are cutting off huge portions of the room and again, making it look smaller.  So when in doubt, go with the orientation of the room.

3. Legs on or off? This is a question i get ALL the time and my best tip is BE CONSISTENT. If you don’t have a massive rug that fits all your furniture (because yes, that is ideal) then make sure that you are at least consistent with how you handle the legs; if your sofa legs are off, have the chair legs off the rug  as well. If your sofa is all on, then you can’t have the chairs all off or it will really chop up the conversation area.  So I say, ALL ON, or ALL OFF or if its slightly too small to be all on, then try to have them all pretty evenly on the rug. Is that confusing? Just be consistent so it looks as intentional as possible.

how should a rug be oriented

I have seen it where the sofa is all on and the rugs are 1/2 and vice versa and it can look fine, but ideally all the legs would be on the rug.  If you have to choose which legs should be on, then choose the ones that are the least obvious. AKA, if your sofa is low and closer to the wall then you are less likely to see under it and reveal the fact that its not fully on the rug.  See, i told you… nuanced.

4. Square rugs are for square rooms.  That is all.  Round rugs are for foyers/entries or kids room/family rooms that are more playful (or round shaped rooms in case you live in a Yurt).

5. If you have a rug that is too small but you love it, then buy a large sisal that fits the whole seating area and layer your favorite rug on top – I do this ALL THE TIME. Sisal, jutes, seagrass rugs are cheapish so buying a 9×12 is more doable than a 9×12 antique kilim.

6.  Make sure that your rug is has at least 6-10″ on either side of the sofa. This is crucial. If the width of the rug is the same as the width of the sofa then you are in trouble – it will look too small and create a bowling alley effect.

And now a video to demonstrate some of these tips, for your viewing pleasure.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube channel by clicking HERE. NOTHING really happens except when you log on to youtube. No nagging, just a ‘hey, wanna watch a new video about how to styled Bearcat’s hair?’ ‘n such….


what rug size

As you can see I went with a hearty sized 9×12 Souk rug from West Elm that fits all the rules perfectly, made the room feel so much bigger (because its light and bright) and of course added a ton of texture, warmth and depth.

Alright, any other rug questions? There’s a lot to talk about here and a lot of info out there, so ask away and i’ll get to all of your questions.


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  1. What exactly is floating furniture.

    1. Furniture that is not pressed up against walls, so “floats” in the room not being “anchored” to a wall (or similar).

  2. i love the 8×10 rug you used. Can you provide the name or brand ?

  3. Can you show us what’s going on behind the couch? I just moved mine so it’s about 1.5 ft away from the wall (in order to be able to center the coffee table below a chandelier) and I don’t know what to do with the awkward amount of space now behind the couch.

  4. Hi,

    I have an odd shaped living room and therefore a hard time choosing my rug size….

    I have a sofa (floating) opposite our fireplace , To the left (under the stairs) another sofa (not floating). To the right is a walkpath to the kitchen… Sofa’s all on the rug is not possible. Do I leave all off ? Or just the floating front and or back legs on? Also I can’t have a rug that has the total length of the non-floating sofa because of the fire place. Will that look odd? HELP!!!! THX in advance, Aukje

  5. I have a sectional couch that measures 8×8. You recommended the rug to extend 6″ on each side of the couch so does that mean I have to buy a rug that is 20×20? Help please!

    1. You’re adding 6 feet — instead, add 6 inches to each side (or 1 foot total to each measurement). So you need a rug that is at least 7×7, but you’re more likely to find an 8×8.

  6. I have a square sitting room that is 14 by 14, but it has inlay wood that leaves an 8 by 8 space in the center. It also has a coffered ceiling and wainscoting. I was going to get a 6.5 by 6.5 round round rug to sit in the middle with a circular tea table and two chairs 45 degrees to each other both front legs on…. you mentioned square rus for square rooms but I thought a square rug might be too cold. Thoughts?

  7. I have a sectional sofa that is 6’x8′. The long side of the sofa is against the wall. The living room is small, rectangle shaped. What size rug should I use? And, what color? My sofa is dark charcoal grey. I am looking at a light gray with white design rug, but am wondering if that is too much gray. Should I use a rug with color? Thank you.

    1. My situation is similar! My sectional is 9’x9′ with one section against the wall in a rectangular shaped room. My couch is charcoal grey, too. I have been looking at cream colored rugs-maybe very light grey- and want a design. I was thinking a 6’x9′ rug might work and then the front feet of the couch are on the rug?

      1. what did you end up doing? I have a a 9×9 charcoal rug in a rectangle room and got a light gray/ivory rug

        1. How did that size rug work for you? I have a similar couch that your describing. With the chaise lounge. Mine to is charcoal grey. My living room is rectangular and it just looks odd.. I just ordered my rug, so I hope it looks nice.

  8. I have a hardwood floor baby’s room. The size is 11.5 x 13. I am getting the same rug from West Elm, but want to know if I should get the 8×10 or the 5×8. Cost is not an issue, visual is my focus.


  9. Hi,
    I have a lounge/dining room. The lounge space is squared off with floating furniture and then there is a little dining table in the back corner. The floor is tiled (which I hate but can’t change in the near future) with a creamy flecked tile and dark grout. I wanted to get a beni ourani inspired rug that I am obsessed with but think the dark grout tile poking out around the edge of the rug with a geographic pattern will look odd…do you think it would be okay? Should I just go for a plain rug? I want to not only hide some of the tile but to create a zone for my living area.

  10. I’m on the hunt for an 11×15. I would love for you to share your favorite sources for HUGE rugs, or tips for making multiple rugs work in a large space. My furniture arrangement is 13.8 x 8.7, which is tricky (without a $15k budget — I was hoping to spend under $2k!)

  11. Hi,

    Thank you so much for the advice! We currently live in a pretty small apartment and I have a awkward space in between the living room and bedrooms…It is not a hallway…Would you use a runner rug or a small area rug. It is L shaped but wider on one end…I could use a 4X6 area rug but it would leave the other space open…Thank you!

  12. I have a 10ft x 10ft bedroom…what size area rug should I look for? Thank you.

  13. what size rug do you put in front of a 3.5 ft entry door

  14. does anyone know who makes the white rug with black zig zag stripes? love this rug and haven’t been able to find it anywhere! x

    1. I saw one EXACTLY like it at West Elm – I believe it’s the same one. The manager couldn’t stress enough how bad the rug sheds. He told me if I buy it I better like to vacuum .. like every day! I’m still contemplating on buying it just because I love the style so much!

  15. I have been agonizing over this issue!! This was the most helpful post I have seen on this subject. I am moving to a new home with a large family room and I am struggling over weather to by carpet (and have it bound) or by a cool area rug. I love the idea of something interesting in the space, but I am chicken about trying to make a print work with all the other elements in the room. I want comfort and durability (family of four with 2 boys), by style too! I am buying a very large u shaped sectional (Axis Sectional from Crate & Barrel) and it measures 12′ 10″ across the back.
    So my questions are:
    Can I get I get away with a 9 x 12? I know it will be a little short of your 6 inches rule.
    What are your thoughts on West Elm’s quality? I love their “Vines” rug in blue, but I hear that some people have issues with wool rugs shedding. The rug you have is very cool! Is it wool? Any shedding? Does it lay flat? It looks more “soft” and less stiff than your typical wool area rug.
    Thank you!!!!

  16. Who are those amazing leather chairs from??? LOve them

  17. If you are getting an area rug for a room that doesn’t have a sitting area, how much space should typically be from the wall? (For example, my room is 11’5″ x 11″, should I get 8 x 8, 10 x 10 ?

  18. i am trying to pick a rug for a conference room that is 10 1/2 x 12 1/2 i ordered a round table 48 inches and 2 chairs. just wondering if i should get a 5×8 or 8 x 10. gray or navy.

  19. I have a long rectangle room. The dining table shares the space with the living room. The couch is against the wall facing the fireplace. I have a beautiful white/cream cowhide for under the dining table and want a rug for couch area. Don’t know what kind of rug or color to put with couch area. The cowhide almost reached the leather chair near the couch. Can you help?

  20. Hi I have a sectional, a curved L, backed up to the wall on one side and the kitchen to the other. the dimesion is 9×11. Should I go with this, or do I geta bigger one? As is the secrional covers one side of wall

  21. Where can I get those chairs!? ?

  22. What do I do with a sofa with a chaise sectional?
    Should the side of the chair legs be on the rug? Or just have it float in front?

  23. I am moving into a new home that has a great room, and I’m having trouble deciding what size rug to get. My sofa is 91″, my end tables are 18″ wide. I will be putting end tables on both ends, as well as a coffee table in front.
    My issue is the two side chairs (recliners actually..we’re old).
    I can only place them facing the same direction as the sofe, on a slight diagonal. Even a 9×12 may not allow all legs to be on the rug.
    Can just the front portion of the recliners be on the rug? I know you said all on or all off, but if it won’t fit what’s my option?
    I found a beautiful rug, and was thinking about the 9×12, but I don’t think everything will be able to be (all legs on) even with the 9×12.
    Can you help me, please?

  24. I have a bigger dinning room for which I was confused what kind of rug will suit it. Then one of my friend recommended me your post where I had hints for how to choose the right rug. Now, I had decided to have designer rug for my dining hall which is the centre of my house. Thank You for shar

  25. Hi – I own the BROOKE model home in the attached url. I am looking for a rug to go in my living room (“great room” in the floor plan). What size rug should I get?

  26. Hello there,
    I have a room with a sectional that is an L with an additional chaise so it’s almost a squared U. The space is an small open concept sharing with kitchen and dining area. To put all the legs of the sofa on would lose rug real estate bc the sofa is backed against the wall, as you mentioned. Is it okay to have all the front legs of the sectional on the rug? If so, the rug would stop half way under the chaise and the other side of the sofa. Does that make sense. I’m concerned it will chop up the space and don’t want to buy the wrong size. Any tips for rugs with an L shaped sectional + a chaise? Thanks

  27. This is all wonderful advice. Finding a rug has been one of the hardest things to find. We have a pretty large sectional that includes a chaise placed in the center of the room. We have lots of colors. My concern was making my space look too busy with a patterned rug. I need help in finding the perfect rug to tie it all.

  28. Hi-One end of my sofa is against the wall, and I could only afford a 5’x8′ rug. Do you think it will work? Thanks.

  29. I have a deep couch that is 8 feet long. I have a long living room. Fireplace on one of the long walls and the couch is facing the fire place. I have an end table on either side of the couch. The couch is not against a wall. I’m buying sisal rug and I can customize the size of the rug. I know for sure I need the width to be 7′. My question is, if my options are 6″ or 1 foot on either side, which is better? I don’t want the room to look any narrower than it already is. Thank you for your help.

  30. Hello Emily, i have a long narrow living space with a sectional couch along the wall and a single lounge chair across from across from the couch some distance, our room is divided by a walkway from the garage into the house and our florida room doors, so it feels kind of separated between the single chair and couch, the room is 13 x 20.5, we were looking at a 9×12 rug from West Elm, but i am not sure how to get the single chair on the other side of the room divided by the open walkway to be a cohesive look. Its really hard to describe a picture would be easier. Thanks for any help you can provide or ideas, i could send you a picture if that makes it easier and thank you for the great information

  31. My front room is 14×15. I have two sofas 87 L x 38 depth. Both sofa are against the walls. What size area rug would you recommend?

  32. Hi,
    I’m wondering what size rug to use under a seating area that has two club chairs and a table……. it’s in an open room that also has a round dining table and two chairs. The floor are wood laminate (renting). The seating area is about 4 x 8 but no rugs come in that size and it would look like a runner. If I go larger, let’s say 5 x 8, it would run too close to the dining table chairs when they are pulled out plus it would stick half way into the room and block the walk way to the patio. I can send a picture if needed. Been trying to figure this out for years! Thanks for your help.

  33. I’m REALLY struggling to find a rug for my living room. We live in a shotgun style row home – narrow and long with one pathway from the front door to the back. The front door opens to my living room, and while I could fit a 5×7 rug (7 ft couch), you would essentially walk in my front door and right onto my rug. Not what I want! Any recommendations for how to fix this issue? We have a 7ft couch against the wall on the far side of the walkway, round coffee table, 2 chairs on either side (think rectangular seating area) and then a TV stand against the wall on the other side of the walkway.

  34. What shape rug would you
    Use with a half moon sectional sofa and round has sack large

  35. I’m just bought a very small one bedroom with great outdoor space. The living room is 92 ft, what size area rug should I consider ?

  36. How do you place a rug for a large sectional sofa that is L shaped ? Is a chair necessary across on the other side ? I have an oval coffe table. I’m stumped and driving myself crazy.

  37. Hello! I have my grandmother’s rug that I would like to use in my daughter’s room but the rug is almost a foot too long. Can I roll it under? Do I risk damaging the rug over time?

  38. What about a living room that isn’t square?? We’ve got a picture window that juts out (it’s where we have our sofa).

  39. Hi Emily! I have a sitting room/den which measures about 9’10 wide by 13’7 long. I found an antique rug that I love but it is 9’6 by 13’7. Will it look weird if the rug almost completely covers the wood floor?

  40. How do you size a rug for a sectional, against a wall? 6-10″ on the outside?

  41. I have two toddlers and two dogs that shed profusely. What is the most odor resistant, easily vacuumable type of rug? Is it okay to just not put a rug down because it seems like such a waste of money because of how trashed it’s going to get? Help! I’m a rug lover but my family is MESSY. THANKS!

  42. Thanks Emily. Miss seeing you on HGTV! I was wondering what size rug I need for my living room. I want a smallish rug just in front of my white leather IKEA sofa, under my mod glass and chrome coffee table. I’ve been looking for YEARS for one with bright colors and just found a nice one that I can afford. But the size is 3′ x 5′ and my sofa is 80 inches long. The coffee table is less than four feet long. Would this really not work? I have a metallic silverswivel chair on one side of the coffee table and a white faux leather one on the other side. My floor will be a wide plank cognac (reddish dark brown) bamboo.

  43. I have also used a dark color rug in one of my personal room. It really gives a cool look at home. Some times I used to lay down on that while watching television. This is possible just because of “RD Mount”. Yes, it’s comfortable to watch television from any angles of your room. “RD Mounts the best TV Wall Stand” is an Indian leading manufacturer of Audio-video mounts. RD Mount gives an option to tilt and rotate any TV screen to give you comfort angle to get pleasure while watching television. So, I feel relaxed while watching my favourite TV show by laying down on rug.

  44. I absolutely love this couch!!!!! May I ask where it´s from? 🙂
    Also, great tips! Just bought my first home, and looking forward to decorating!

  45. What about a room where a piano is involved? The room is 11’x11.5′ (and open to another room. Piano is on the wall adjacent to the open side. Do I get a rug that goes all the way under the entire piano? Doesn’t touch any of it (like not even the bench)? Just under the bench or just under the front legs of the piano and not the “box)? Help!

  46. I have a weird shaped mud room. I want to have rugs by the doors-one on the left side and one on the right side. but I also want one for the area itself. The only problem is there’s stairs leading into the room in the way. It almost requires 3 different rugs…or buying custom? but that’s kind of expensive…any suggestions?? Thank you!

  47. I am thinking for those who put the whole of the sofa on the rug or even some are not vacuuming the rug and that to me is very gross.

  48. Hi, I know this is an older article, but I’m googling for rug tips and this is the best one!

    The seating area of my room is 14×10 so I have a 12×9 rug. Looks perfect for the space. Problem is that we are getting a new couch, and the couch is also 12ft wide! (Well, technically, it’s 11ft 10in.) So do I keep the rug that fits the space, with only 1 inch on either side of the couch? Or do I get an 10×8 rug for the couch front legs to go on, but risk making the room look smaller? THANK YOU!

  49. Hi, our living room is 3.6m by 5.13m and the sofa is 3.04m by 2.43m. We allocated the wider side of the sofa at the shorter side of the room as the recessed TV wall was built to the shorter side of the room, so do we orient the rug according to the shape of the sofa instead of the room? We prefer to have all the sofa legs on the rug with about 30cm extension from each side. Do you think it’s a reasonable arrangement? Thanks

  50. I have a French provincial style dining table and chairs and a grey fabric lounge with chaise. I like the West elm Souk rug but not sure it will suit the style of the furniture. I want the rug for in front of the lounge. Do you think that would suit? It would go on floor boards.

  51. I’m having such a difficult time finding a rug to coordinate with my sectional and curtains. What are the rules for this?

  52. Emily, do you mind posting what size was the seating area you guys measured.

  53. I am in desperate need of help. I have a family room that is a very awkward space. We are installing hardwood next week. I have a very large sectional against the back wall which has my picture window. The back length is 7ft and the side that comes out close to the fireplace is 5ft 2 inches. I think a 6×9 will be too large and a 8×5 too small. Should I just leave it all hardwood. I have 4 kids and was looking for a cozy look.

  54. Hi so I have a room and board 10′ × 10′ leather sectional.. my room is square but I do have a fireplace that sticks out a few feet and a bookshelf opposite which makes the room feel more long than square. My sectional floats in front of the bookshelf and I think it would look nice to have two small chairs on the end of my rug.. I was thinking a 9×12 for my rug size but would like to be sure.. do you think square would be better or have any suggestions for me?