Decorators’ Handbook: How to pick Rug Sizes

I thought I would do a new series on the blog called, Decorators’ Handbook. In this series I will answer some of the most asked questions that I get asked and hopefully help you in decorating your own space.

First Question: How do you know what size to buy your area rug?

Answer: Well it varies depending on what room, but one key point that many agree on is that there should be at least an 18” border of bare floor in the room.

Dining Room:


When picking out a rug for your dining room you need to measure the length and width of your table and add an additional 1 ft 6 inches for the dining chairs.

You want to make sure that you have enough rug space so that when you pull out your dining chair and sit down the back legs of the chair are still on the rug.

If you use your table leaf a lot than it is also best to measure with the leaf in the table to make sure you have enough rug space.

It is also normally best to just make sure the rug goes under the table and chairs and does not interfer with sideboards, buffets, bar carts, etc.

Living Room:

If you have a living room where the furniture is placed a couple of feet off the walls then it’s best to either have the furniture completely on or off the rug. No in between.


If the furniture is placed against the wall then the rug can be placed just under the front piece:


Or away from it:


Since rules were made to be broken don’t be afraid to have a piece of furniture hanging off the edge:


As long as your chair is not wobbling it’s not a problem.

If you have a large space use two smaller area rugs instead of large custom piece:



If you place a small rug under the bed most of it would be covered by the bed and there is really no point. One option is get an area rug that covers the majority of the floor space.


* If you want a smaller rug under the bed make sure it sticks out at least 18” around the entire bed if it is a King/Queen and at least 12” if it is a twin/toddler.

Or you can put a small rug to the side of the bed:


Or a runner to go at the foot of the bed:


What other questions to do you want to see answered in the decorators’ handbook?

* Images via Inspiration for Decoration

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24 Responses to Decorators’ Handbook: How to pick Rug Sizes

  1. Ludmila {} says:

    oh wow, these are some wonderful pieces of advice! Will definitely take notes and thank you for sharing! Also the pictures are so very relevant, love them!

  2. Shannon says:

    Great question! I realized I was kinda wondering that too. BUt more importantly, I realized how I NEED that entire bedroom with the blue wall.

  3. Megan@DesignMatters says:

    Great tips! I can tell this is gonna be a great series! I love that black and white rug in the bedroom!

  4. Janell @ Isabella and Max says:

    Great post!! My pet peeve is a tiny area rug under a dining table with the chairs barely on the rug. When I see this I almost feel uncomfortable knowing what a pain it would be to sit at the table, needing to pull in the chair (over the edge of the rug, getting caught most likely!) See, it is an issue of mine!!

  5. ERIKA says:

    I'm sure this will be a popular post! Great advice as well as accompanying photos!

  6. Lauren says:

    Great series!! I have to say though.. I do love a tight rug-wall border, especially in smaller rooms to utilize floor space. I typically do 7-14"

    It's so interesting to see how diff rules apply in diff spaces!

  7. Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle says:

    I never would have thought to put a runner at the foot of a bed. I love that idea. Since my entire house is carpet in light carpet that would give a nice pop of color to the room.

  8. Elena says:

    How far apart to hang pictures and gallery walls.

    How to hang drapes. I'd not a pooling drape, should it touch or skim the floor? How high up and around a window can you hang them?

    How to create attractive, but uncluttered vignettes. On nightstands? End tables?

    How to mix/match bedroom suites. Like, I have an upholstered headboard, a pair of nightstands, and a coordinated dresser. Now I'm struggling to add a tv stand.

  9. The Brick Cottage says:

    Excellent guide! One of my pet peeves is dining rooms with too small of a rug. All I can think of when I see it is how much of a hassle it would be to use the chairs (which leads me to believe the dining room is never used–not a good thing!). I believe I am breaking a rule in our bedroom…must find my measuring tape. :)

    For future suggestions on this topic, how about how to mix and match printed fabrics properly. That's a tricky one to get right sometimes but it adds so much interest to the room it would be a shame not to play around with them.

  10. jane says:

    what a great new series! especially for someone like me, with zero professional interior experience/knowledge. and a big thank you for adding me to your sweet little list yesterday – definitely made me smile! happy wednesday* xx, Jane

  11. Katlin Farrell says:

    Great post! Thanks. Here's an idea for the series: how to maximize space in small rooms (I'm in an efficiency appartment & struggling with that one).

  12. Kathysue says:

    Camilla, great post and wonderful advice. The pictures were a great example. Thanks Kathysue

  13. Averill says:

    Great tips Camila. Would love to hear your opinion on hanging art at well.

    Also, because of your great post back in April, D. Lawless Hardware has offered a 10% discount for Odi et Amo readers — come check it out!

  14. shiree segerstrom says:

    I have loved that piece forever too! Worlds Away has wonderful designs. If you like WA, you may also enjoy Global Views. Shiree'

  15. Michelle says:

    How about opinions on using rugs on carpet? Our carpet is beige and I want to add some thin rugs to add color and define the space, is it crazy to use rugs atop carpeted rooms?

  16. Mackenzie {Design Darling} says:

    i'm lovin' the new series already!

  17. LindsB says:

    What a fun new series, I cant wait to see what else you have for us!

  18. Fran says:

    Great idea! I learned something from this – thank you so much! I'm going to think of some questions and email you!

  19. Bailey@ peppermintbliss says:

    You literally read my mind. We are putting our home together this week (yes, I am FREAKING out excited) and as much as I can conceptualize and design the idea of a room, I think knowing how to deal with things like rugs, lighting, furniture placement take time and practice. When it comes to that stuff I miss my mommala/friends who care about design to invite over and play house with! I guess I can still do it virtually with the likes of you though :)

  20. Creategirl says:

    Great post! I always place the front 2 feet of a sofa a few inches on the rug and find this connects the pieces together. I tell my own clients, its the easiest solution for pulling a room together!

  21. Megan {Honey We're Home} says:

    This is awesome advice and right on time for me as I'm looking for rugs now. I also had to choose blinds/shutters for our windows and wasn't really sure how to decide. I'd love your thoughts- also I'm unsure about curtains- do you need them or is it better to keep the windows bare? We have large windows in the living room that look out to a small backyard- I think we need curtains but I can never decide which will look best- print/solid?? Looking forward to this series:)

  22. Dave says:

    Great tips!

  23. Pam @ bibbidi-bobbidi-beautiful says:

    Great advice! Thanks! One thing I'm a little confused about and would love to see a post on is good gold vs. bad gold finishes. I'm finding myself wanting to re-repaint a few frames around here (some of which used to be pretty golds before I painted them a year or so ago- doh!) but I'm not quite sure I trust myself to choose a "good" gold. Thanks!

  24. Lane says:

    The rugs are truly gorgeous, and in order for a room to look as its best, choosing great furniture and carpets must be done. Dirty rugs and fixtures can really make your room dreadful, so as much as possible, always do or ask for some furniture and carpet cleaning. Ft Myers cleaning experts has more ideas in order for your home to look more stunning than ever.

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