Area rugs are an important element for any room and often missing in many homes. Area rugs anchor a furniture grouping by linking separate pieces together for a common function. For example: Your area rug can define a conversation area, TV viewing, reading nook, sleeping, etc. especially in a large room or open concept or open floor plans. So choosing the right area rug for your room is important.

Without an area rug sometimes furniture can appear to be floating around a room and not connected. Have you ever seen a room with a lot of smaller furniture pieces placed all around a room in every nook and cranny to fill empty space? It feels cluttered and confusing. An area rug can help to pull those related items together and give it purpose.

An area rug can also soften a room with hard floors. Especially in the cooler months, an area rug can make a room feel warm and cozy. But, you will still need to keep the size of the rug in mind.

How to choose the right area rug

What size area rug should I use in my living room?

Everyone asks decorators “What is the perfect size for an area rug?” While I think there are exceptions to every rule, I believe an area rug should be at least large enough so the front furniture legs of your pieces (in a grouping) will be on the rug. For example, If you have a sofa, coffee table, side tables, and two accent chairs grouped together in the space, then at minimum, the front legs of all the pieces should be on the rug.

But ideally, the rug should large enough for the whole furniture grouping to fit on the rug. However, you do not want a large rug that it acts like the walls in a room consuming all of the furniture in the room together. (Unless it’s a smaller space with only one seating area).  If it’s a small living room then you will likely want the rug large enough to leave an even border around the edge of the rug. In other words, center the large area rug in the middle of the room, then place your single furniture arrangement on the rug.

You also, and most importantly, don’t want a small rug that is smaller than your furniture.  For example, a common mistake I see is people using a smaller rug that is just a bit bigger than their coffee table. All this seems to accomplish is to make your coffee table comfortable. 😉 If it’s all you have to work with, (this is redesign), then use it, but if you have the choice of a larger rug then use the larger one.

When at all possible you want to use the right rug for the space. The perfect rug size rug is one that anchors your seating arrangement in the room.

living room floor plan with area rug

How do I choose the right pattern or color for my area rug?

Another consideration with area rugs is color, pattern, and shape. You want to achieve a cohesive look to your room design and coordinating your rug choice and your furniture will make or break a room design. An easy way to do this is to look at your rug as another fabric in your space.

When your designing a room you will coordinate your upholstery fabric, window treatments, accessories, artwork, and your rug, so they all play nice together. I often tell clients to start with the largest pieces, or patterns, and work from there. So in this case your area rug will likely be the largest piece in the room so start by choosing something you love, your dream rug, and coordinate the rest of the pieces in the room with it.

Of course, if you are not redesigning the whole space then you will have to start with what you have and coordinate your new rug with it. If you have a busy pattern in your upholstery, then using a solid rug, or neutral rug, will help balance it.


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You can use your area rug as the focal point in a room. Not sure what your focal point should be? Read my post “How to find the best focal point in your room.

Area rug with colors

Or, the opposite scenario, if you have neutral furniture upholstery, then an oriental rug, with lots of color and pattern, can give that plain solid furniture the life it so desperately needs.

My living room is a great example of this. I have a solid grey sectional and a brown leather recliner. So I used an oriental rug with a lot of pattern and colors of red, icy blue, and cream to bring in some excitement. To tie it all in I painted my built-ins the same icy blue from the rug.

What shape should my area rug be?

Round Rug

You can use a round rug in areas where you are not making a seating arrangement. For example, a round rug could look welcoming in an entryway or foyer, in a large bathroom, a dining room, a child’s bedroom or playroom. Basically, you would use this rug to simply warm up the space and add comfort.

Beautiful Round Rugs

This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a recommended product, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps me to bring you this great content every week. Rest assured that I will not recommend any product that I would not use myself.

Half Circles

You can use these half circle rugs in an entryway, in front of double doors, in front of a bathroom or kitchen sink, or in front of a fireplace. (Make sure your rug is fire safe)


You can use a square rug in place of a rectangular rug as long as it fits the furniture grouping. Remember, ideally you want the back legs of your furniture to be completely on the rug. So, if your furniture grouping ends up being a square shape, then you can use a square rug. You could also use a square rug under a bed, or under a square dining table.


Use an oval shaped rug in entryways, on the sides of the bed, in kitchens, hallways, or for a dining room rug under a rectangle shaped table. Oval rugs create an informal look so don’t use them where you want a formal look.

Skinny rectangles (runners)

Runners are great for hallways, kitchens, on the side of the bed, or in a skinny entryway.


Rectangle rugs are the most common shape for a rug. They can be used in most places around your home depending on the size. You can use them in living rooms, bedrooms, entryways, kitchens, dining rooms, kids spaces, and more. Rectangle rugs come in many different sizes so the first step is to find the ideal size for your space.

Area rug furniture placement

Using an area rug finishes off a room

Using an area rug in your home can really finish off the entire room and make the space feel warm and cozy. Don’t forget to use a rug pad to keep the rug from slipping and to save your floors from scratches. You can use rugs in larger rooms or small spaces and they will make your room look finished and purposeful.

But remember, the most important factor to consider is purchasing the right size rug for the space.

accessories on a console table
floor plan cover image
living room without a foyer

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