Written by Catherine Seagrave - The Living House

There are many, many different rugs on the market - every colour, shape and size imaginable. So how do you go about choosing the right one?


As mistakes go, rugs are one of the most common that we see. When it’s wrong your room can feel smaller, disjointed and you could end up with a rug that appears to float in the middle of the room. A big design no no!! But get it right and a rug is the perfect finishing touch, bringing everything in the room together and defining the area.

The best rugs anchor your furniture pieces and consider both the shape of the room and the floor space you have available. The trick is to get the right balance and connection between the two. In general the rules are simple: buy the biggest rug you can afford, leave about a 20cm gap between the rug and the walls, and aim to have the front legs of the furniture on the rug.

To make it even easier, we’ve broken the rules down room by room.

Living Room

In the living room there are a few options for the best rug size, depending on the size of your room.

If your room is very large, and your sofas are away from the wall, it looks best if the sofas and chairs are all sitting on the rug. If the room is open plan, you may need more than one rug to define the areas. Each separate area will have the furniture on the rug to create the illusion of ‘rooms’, zoning the space.

If your room is not that large, and your furniture is generally pushed against the walls, then opt for a rug large enough to go under the front legs of the sofa. This will keep the rug and the furniture connected, without having to buy a very large and expensive rug.

On the whole, a rug that is only large enough to sit under the coffee table is not big enough. It will make your room appear smaller as it draws your eye inwards. Best avoided!

Top tip - if your rug isn’t big enough, layer it with another rug to increase the size.


Dining Room

Again the main consideration is to make sure the rug is large enough. No one wants to feel like their chair is going to fall off the rug! As a rule of thumb, when the chairs are placed under the table, you want to have an additional 50cm minimum from the back legs to the edge of the rug. This will allow room for the chairs to be pushed back comfortably. The same goes for a round rug - add 100cm to the diameter (50cm on each side).

In an open plan room, a rug can really help define the dining area and separate it from the kitchen or seating areas.

Top tip - if you are having trouble visualising how big your rug should be, try using masking tape on the floor to outline the space the rug takes up. It will give you a much clearer idea of the rug size you need before you buy.



When it comes to the bedroom, there are three main options. All of them use the bed as your main focal point.

The first option is to get a big rug. The rug and the surrounding furniture, like the bedside tables, and ottoman at the end of the bed are all placed on the rug. With this option, you should leave 50cm of space around the outer edges of the furniture so that everything doesn’t look squashed on the rug.

The second option uses a smaller rug and is placed under the bottom two-thirds of the bed. Again the rug should extend 50cm on each side of the bed, as well as at the foot. This layout looks particularly good if you have a small sofa at the end of the bed as it helps to frame the area.

The third option is to have two runners, one on each side of the bed. The runners look best if they don’t touch the furniture, and shouldn’t extend longer than the bed. Ideally they’ll be a little wider than the bedside tables. This is a cost effective option as it uses much smaller rugs, as the majority of the rug isn’t hidden under the bed.


Entrance hall

Hallways are a great place to show off a rug. Generally a runner looks best in this long thin space. Just make sure that the width still allows for a bit of floor to show either side, otherwise it will look more like a carpet!


Small odd areas

A round rug can really help give a small area an identity. A round rug placed under an armchair can help it become a reading nook in a larger space. A small desk with a rug underneath becomes a home office on the landing. Rugs help to set the boundaries of a space and help them become an area in their own right.

Top tip - if in doubt, go bigger – it’s easier to tuck more of the rug under furniture than it is to make a small rug fill a big space.

Outdoor rugs

When considering an outdoor rug, exactly the same rules apply as indoors. If your rug is going under your patio table and chairs, make sure it is at least 50cm larger on all sides than the table and chairs.

If you are using a rug with an outdoor sofa, have it going under the legs of the sofa to define the space and make it feel as large and cosy as possible.

And don’t forget if you have a hanging egg chair, a round rug under it will turn it into an inviting nook in your garden!

If you need some help bringing your room together, take a look at our design packages from £65. Our Mini package is perfect if you’d like us to look at the rug size you need - before you buy!

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