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Your Guide to All Things Area Rugs & Conversation Spaces-My Tips and Best Advice!

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

One element of the room that I don't think gets enough attention is the area rug. Rugs are incredibly important because they ground the space, tie together colors distributed around the room and add character.

I've found that a lot of people don't know how to use area rugs to the maximum benefit or how to choose the right rug size. Some people choose rugs that are too small, others choose rugs that don't quite fit the function and purpose of the room. I think this happens because people underestimate how important rugs can be. Knowing how area rugs affect a space and following a good rule of thumb for area rugs can help you pick rugs that will enhance the beauty of your home's interior.

I think the most important thing you can do is pick an area rug that's a good size for your space. You don't want your area rug to be too large or too small, or it could throw off the entire room.

Believe it or not, there are actual rules about the size of the rug you will need based on the room's function. Whether it’s a living room, dining room, or bedroom affects which rug dimensions you should choose.

The Number One Rule For Buying Area Rugs Is...

When in doubt, go larger.

If you're ever stuck trying to decide between two rug sizes, wondering which one is best for your room, the bigger rug is the one you want. A good rule of thumb for area rugs is that rugs that are too small can throw off the balance in the room. A rug that is too big is likely to be less of a problem.

Living Room Area Rugs:

How big?

Whether it's a living room, a family room or a sitting area, the area rug you choose should reach at least under the front sets of furniture legs. Some rooms have more than one seating area, which is why it’s important to measure the total area. Make sure your rug is as wide as your sofa or sectional - the last thing you want to see is a rug that isn't wide enough.


When placing the rug, you want it to be centered on your conversation area. In this way, the rug is like a stage where the action in the room takes place. It needs to be well positioned so that it captures the conversation and the action. Any side tables do not have to be completely on the rug, but should have at least a couple legs on the rug.

What color?

Picking a color for your rug can be tricky. There's no hard and fast rule about colors and patterns when it comes to area rugs. In fact, if there's one thing I want you to remember when you're picking an area rug color, remember that there are no hard and fast rules! You can have a little fun here since many patterned rugs will have multiple colors included. This isn’t a test with correct and incorrect answers.

I think darker colors have a way of creating a cozier space for conversing, while lighter colors can make the space feel a little bigger and more spacious. That said, you have to take into consideration the entire room before making a decision. Remember that you can always replace a rug down the line, or move it to another room, so don't be afraid to try something bold and beautiful.

If you're trying to choose a rug that coordinates with specific colors in the room, bring upholstery samples of your own furnishings or wall paint swatches when you go shopping. I recommend shopping in-person rather than online to get a truer sense of the rug's color.

Dining Room Area Rugs

How big?

Make sure every chair fits completely on the rug, even when pulled out. You don’t want to have the chair half on, half off when someone is sitting at the table or needing to get in and out of the chair. That becomes a hassle with the chair legs getting caught every time. You want that as seamless as possible, which is why you need the larger size to accommodate the function.

What color?

The dining room is one place where color rules change just a little bit because food that falls on the floor can cause stains and early deterioration of the rug. Buying a rug that's darker, either with patterns or solid, can help hide stains from spills and accidents. If you have children, this can be especially important, but even accident-prone adults will want to consider a darker patterned rug for their dining room.

What type of pile?

Again, it's important that your area rug not get in the way of your dining room chair legs. Even with the rug in place, you'll want to be sure that it's easy to slide your chairs across the piling. Large looped pile is cozy and comforting in your conversation area, but can catch a chair leg and get stuck in your dining room. Opt for a short, tightly woven looped pile, or cut pile for this type of room.

Bedroom Area Rugs

How big?

Generally speaking, bedroom rugs should fit under the bed and the front portion of the nightstands. If that’s not possible, then at least under 90% of the bed. When I tell people this, some balk and ask about cleaning under the bed. Some find cleaning hardwood floors easier than cleaning carpet under the bed. If you prefer a hardwood floor under bed, another option is to place a small runner on each side of the bed. I prefer the larger option and usually will opt for that in my projects.


The rug should be positioned so that it covers the floor on either side of the bed when you get out. This keeps your feet warm and makes getting out of bed just a little easier in the mornings.

What color?

Like in the living room, the color you choose for your bedroom rug is a matter of personal taste and preference. Consider the type of ambiance and environment you'd like to create in your bedroom. Solid colors and low-contrast, muted patterns add to the sense of peace in the bedroom, while high-contrast patterns and bold colors can ramp up the energy. It's your bedroom, so do with it what you want!

What kind of pile?

Bedrooms are the perfect place to put a rug, because there's nothing quite so comforting as waking up and putting your feet on a soft, squishy carpet. This is a room where shaggy pile makes a lot of sense and doesn’t ruin any functionality of the space.

Some Tips When Choosing An Area Rug

An area rug can add true personality to a room. Keep an open mind about colors, patterns, piles and so on. Patterned rugs can transform your space into one that's stylish and attractive as well as cozy and comfortable. Solid colored rugs bring balance and color to your room without drawing attention from other natural focal points. Some tips for picking the right rug for you:

  • Shop around when you're looking for an area rug.

  • Don't be afraid to splurge on a rug that captures your heart.

  • Consider rugs of unusual shapes and patterns to add a sense of character to your space.

  • Yes, you can lay an area rug down on top of carpeting. In a carpeted room, an area rug helps break up the monotony of an endless carpet.

  • Don't forget to buy a rug pad when you're purchasing a rug. Pads help keep the rug in good condition and prevent the rug from slipping.

  • It's ok to lay down multiple area rugs in an open concept layout. In these spaces, rugs help define zones of activity, and can create subtle natural divisions between one part of the room and the next.

As always, I recommend getting help from a professional designer if you're having a hard time. If you’re looking for an interior designer in New Jersey, feel free to contact me! I can tell you how to position a rug in the living room or how to choose the right rug size. I also know lots of sources for good rugs and can make some helpful recommendations if you're feeling stuck. I look forward to speaking with you about your upcoming renovation!

Until next time,

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