Tips for Choosing an Area Rug

Hi my decor and design enthusiasts! This week I want to talk about rugs – art work for the floor. I love area rugs and they can add much to your spaces. However, I have found that there are some misconceptions about size which often results in a less than comfortable, put together space. In fact, the biggest mistake I see with respect to size is buying an area rug that is too small for the room. This makes the space appear unbalanced and awkward, like the rug was an afterthought.

Read on for tips to help when choosing an area rug that will be perfect for your space.

Living Room/Family Room

In most rooms ensure there should be about 10-20” (on average) of floor between the walls and the edge of the rug. If the room is small you could have as little as 8” between rug and wall and if the room is large, you could have as much as 24” between rug and wall. Regardless, the rug should be centered in the space and the distance between the rug and wall should be equal all the way around.

Photo Courtesy of Sven Brandsma

Photo Courtesy of Sven Brandsma

Exceptions to this are instances where you want to highlight an area of the room, for example the conversation area. If you have an open concept floor plan, area rugs will define the ‘rooms’ in the space. In either case, it is safer to go too big rather than too small.

Photo Courtesy of Josh Hemsley

Photo Courtesy of Josh Hemsley


While you could follow this guideline in the bedrooms, there are other options that will make your room comfortable and restful as well. In bedrooms you can place area rugs beside the bed to give you a soft, warm place to step onto in the morning. To keep the space balanced and the rug in proportion to the bed use the two-third rule of thumb, that is, the area mat beside the bed should be about two-thirds the length of the bed.

Another look for bedrooms is to have a rectangular area rug perpendicular to the bed and placed so that one third is visible and two thirds is sitting under the bed. Again this provides a soft, warm landing place for your toes in the morning and brings an element of cohesiveness to the room.

Photo Courtesy of Sidekix Media

Photo Courtesy of Sidekix Media

Dining Room

The last thing you need as you sip and savour is a ‘rocking’ chair because one of the legs is hanging over the edge of the rug. Area rugs in the dining room should be large enough to have the table and chairs completely sitting on it. You also don’t want a deep plush area rug in the dining room either – this makes the ability to move a chair virtually impossible. Instead opt for one that is less than 1/2” deep and is a smooth tight weave to ease chair movement.

Photo Courtesy of Isra Hilles

Photo Courtesy of Isra Hilles

One more tip ....

ALWAYS use an under pad for area rugs. They are necessary to:

  • protect the floor beneath

  • keep the area rug from sliding around

  • make an area rug more ‘cushiony’ underfoot

  • extend the life of the rug

Armed with these tips, shopping for an area rug will be a bit easier and ease the confusion of how big a rug needs to be for the main areas of your home. Happy retailing!

For more ideas and inspiration follow Simply Swank Decor on:

Facebook (

Instagram (

Pinterest (