What Size Rug Is Best for the Living Room?
Choosing the best rug size for your living room doesn't need to be a challenge once you understand the role that your living room rug serves. Traditionally, an area rug acts as a visual foundation to pull specific furniture pieces together into one cohesive unit. When considering what size rug is right for your living room, you'll want to take into account the size of the room, the furniture that you're trying to tie together, and how you're trying to define different areas in the room. In most cases, the standard living room rug size is 8' x 10' or larger, although smaller rugs can work in certain circumstances.
Rug Size by Room Size
In most cases, you'll want to choose an area rug size for the living room that echoes the size of the room. In other words, big room = big rug and small room = small rug. A room usually looks best when the rug is in proportion to the rest of the space. It is worth noting that larger rugs tend to make a room look bigger, if about 1.5' of bare floor is left exposed around the edges of the rug. This is especially true in larger living rooms.
If your living room is long or has an unusual shape, make sure that you're orienting your rug appropriately. A long, narrow room, for example, will look best with an area rug that's positioned so that the longest side is parallel to the long walls.
Rug Size and Placement
Legs on or legs off the rug? That's one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to what size rug is best for your living room. Although designers often disagree about whether it's ever appropriate to have a living room rug that none of the furniture legs (except the coffee table) rest on, it really does depend on the size and shape of your room.
In most cases, bigger is better when it comes to the right area rug size for the living room. This is particularly true in large rooms where smaller rugs can make the space feel chopped up and disconnected. If your living room is "floating" — which means that none of the furniture is pushed against a wall — the best rug size for your living room is large enough that your complete living room set (sofa, chairs, and coffee table) rests with all legs on the rug, and with the edges of the rug extending comfortably all around the sofa. Often, that means a 9' x 12' rug or larger. The furniture should not be so close together as to feel cramped.
When your sofa is against the wall, the average living room rug size is typically smaller, often 8' x 10'. In a room with this type of arrangement, it's not necessary for the rug to extend completely under the sofa because no one will see it or walk on it. Typically, you'll want the front legs of the sofa and any chairs to rest on the rug. It's best to be consistent: if one piece of furniture has its legs on the rug, all pieces should.
Some interior designers will say that it's never appropriate to use a small rug in a living room, particularly when none of the furniture (except the coffee table) is placed on it. While this type of arrangement typically does not look good in large living rooms because it's out of proportion, it can work in smaller, narrow living rooms where space is limited.
Define Your Space
In large, open plan homes, your living room rugs can be very effective at defining specific sections of the room. You'll usually want to have one or two conversation areas, with a sofa and chairs, and perhaps a reading corner and maybe even a bar area. Think about each of these spaces and how you'll want to divide the room when considering what size rug to buy for the living room.
To use the room effectively, you'll need a large area rug that sits completely under all of the conversation area, and a separate rug to place under the reading nook — or at least, under the front legs of the chair and any ottoman or table. The right area rug size for a living room bar area is one that's large enough to allow any barstools or chairs to be moved in and out without catching on the edge of the rug.
Runner rugs are also great for defining spaces in an open living room. If you don't have a large rug to go completely under the sofa and chairs, for example, put a runner behind the sofa to help anchor the space. These long, narrow rugs are also great for in front of sliding glass doors and in entryways.
Choose a Rug that Fits Your Home
While there are a lot of rules about what size rug to buy for the living room, it's important to know your own likes and what will make you happy. Before you buy any rug, try to get an idea of what size will look best. Take an old sheet and place it on the floor, spreading it out and putting your furniture on top where you expect it to normally be. Tuck the edges of the sheet underneath until the size looks right to you. Then use a tape measure to get an idea of about what size rug you'll need. If this seems like a lot of work, try using masking tape instead of the sheet to mark off the area where you want the rug. Remember: If the size that looks best isn't an average living room rug size, you can always order a custom area rug.
If you're debating between two sizes, go with the bigger one. Most people prefer larger rugs in the living room, so bigger is usually better in this case.
Do you have a rug or two that you love, but which don't seem to be the best rug size for your living room? Buy a sisal or seagrass rug that's the size you need, then put your favorites on top! The larger rugs will define the space for you, but you'll still get to enjoy the look and feel of the smaller rug. Ultimately, choosing the right size rug for your living room comes down to what looks good to you and what makes you happy. If you have any questions about choosing living room rugs, call the Natural Area Rugs team at 1-800-661-7847 or use our online contact form.