Size Guidelines for Selecting Area Rugs

Published: 17th January 2011
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Size Guidelines for Selecting Area Rugs

An area rug is often the defining feature of a room and, with this in mind, should be selected with care. The rug you choose will set the tone for the overall feel of the space and will be the factor that ties in all of the different components of the décor. If you have a large space that is divided into more than one area of use, rugs can bring these spaces together as a harmonious whole, or can be used to further define the different regions of the room to give the feel of separate living areas.

Area rugs are ideal for protecting wood or tile floors and bring warmth, texture and depth to any space they occupy. Choosing the area rug that is right for your space, your lifestyle and your décor preferences is largely a matter of personal taste, and the only real rules that should be followed are those guidelines you establish for what you want out of your area rugs and what will work best for you and your family.

Here you will find some generally accepted guidelines for selecting an area rug that will fit your space well and perfectly accent your living area, but do keep in mind that personal preferences should trump any type of rules put forth by the rug industry or interior designers.

Basic Tips for Choosing Area Rugs

When selecting an area rug, size matters. In fact, the size of the rug is one of the most important aspects to consider. While color, style and design are obviously important factors in achieving the overall desired look, the size of the rug will ultimately determine if the rug looks like it belongs in the room or was haphazardly tossed on the floor without much thought.

Room-Size Rugs

When choosing room-size rugs, a good rule of thumb is to measure the room and ensure there will be approximately 18 to 24 inches of space between the rug and the wall on each side. This will help you achieve a balanced look that is not crowded or overbearing. If you are using the rug to cover a hardwood floor, this also allows some of the beauty and sheen of the base flooring to add a touch of elegance to the room by providing your guests with a glimpse of the wood around the borders of the space.

Dining Room Rugs

When selecting dining room area rugs, many people purchase rugs that are actually too small for this purpose. While some rug buyers focus primarily on the relationship of the size of the rug to the size of the dining room table, the space required for the chairs when they are in use is often overlooked. For example, if your rug expands only to the back legs of your dining room chairs when they are pushed in under the table, this might look lovely when the dining room is not in use, but it will become an issue when hosting a dinner party, or even simply having your nightly family meal.


When the chairs are pulled out from the table to be used, all of the legs should remain on your dining room area rug, which means your rug needs to be big enough to accommodate a space larger than the footprint of your table with the chairs pushed in. A good rule for this is to seek out an area rug for your dining room that is at least four feet wider and longer than the footprint of your dining set.

Hallway Rugs

Depending on the size of the hallways in your home, you will likely need a long, narrow area rug – or runner – for this space. In order to achieve a balanced look and find the right size rug for your hallway, keep in mind that the rug you select should be two to four inches narrower than the width of your hallway and 18 to 24 inches shorter than your hallway’s total length.

Bathroom Rugs

While many people opt for traditional bath mats in their bathrooms, area rugs can completely change the look of the room and transform it from a utilitarian space to an extension of the overall interior design of your home. An area rug is not necessarily any more difficult to care for than a bath mat and will bring an air of elegance and a completely new design dimension into the space. Because bathrooms often have limited floor space, you will want to select a rug that will accommodate all of your bathroom fixtures and furnishings, while leaving a border of at least two to four inches on all sides.

Shopping for the perfect area rug for your space is an exciting endeavor, particularly considering the impact the rug will have on the overall look of the room. While these guidelines are good to keep in mind to ensure you end up happy with your purchase, remember to have fun with the rug selection process and choose a rug that speaks to you and your personal sense of style.

Charlie Dima writes out of Earth City, MO about home improvement tips and DIY projects, including the installation of carpet and area rugs. Always looking for the most affordable prices and well-known brands, she tends to end up shopping at http://www.carpetone.com/area_rugs.html more often than not.

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