Area Rugs Uses, Sizes and Tips

by GraceAnn Simoni

Once again, today we are joined by Contributor GraceAnn Simoni, Interior Redesign and Staging Specialist and Instructor from the Chicagoland area. GraceAnn shares with us budget tips and advice for decorating with your existing furniture and accessories.

With all the hardwood, laminate, tile, cork and other eco–friendly flooring being installed in homes, I thought now would be a good time to talk about area rugs.

The addition of a colorful area rug helped with this redesign.Interior Redesign After

This was the room before.Interior Redesign Before

Area Rugs do many things for a room:

  1. Add color
  2. Define areas
  3. Soften sound
  4. Be the focal point of the room
  5. Become a piece of art as in fine Orientals
  6. Feel soft on the feet
  7. Warm the toes

Here’s a room without an area rug…House 2 Before

…and redesigned with an area rug.House 2 After

Area rugs come in a huge variance of prices, from bound remnants, machine made, Oriental rugs that are machine made, referred to as an Oriental Design rugs to antique Savonnerie or Aubusson, handmade, dating back to the 17th century. The later can certainly be considered and investment and may even appreciate in value if well cared for.

I realize budget is a huge consideration when purchasing an area rug but all too often I see rugs that are not the right size for the room or space, usually falling on the too small side.

These two rooms include area rugs that are too small for the spaces.Rug is too small

Rug too small

Please buy the right size for the use:

  • A room sized area rug should have a border of flooring 12 to 18 inches all around.
  • For rugs in the dining room the size should be at least 4 feet longer and wider than the table. This allows for the chairs to be pulled out and still remain on the rug.
  • If you have skirted furniture such as a sofa or love seat, the rug should come right up to the furniture.
  • If a sofa or love seat has exposed legs then the front legs should sit on the rug. I suggest if you have people in your house that ‘pounce’ on the sofa put rubber disks under the legs to keep the furniture from sliding.
  • When using a runner on stairs or in hallways leave at least 4 inches of floor showing on each side of the rug.
  • There are two schools of thought for placing rugs in your bedroom. You can either use one room size rug, most of which will be under the bed, or several rugs around the bed(s). Sometimes the addition of several rugs will fit into the budget better that one large rug.
  • When considering one room size rug it should be large enough for you to take a step or two when getting out of bed.

The furniture was not well-placed in relation to the area rug in this TV room…Lepoard rug before

…it’s much improved here.Lepoard rug after

Just like carpet, rugs need padding. There is padding designed to go under rugs put on flooring and a different type for area rugs placed over carpet. Your dealer will be able to help. Runners and stairs especially need the right padding because of the frequent use.

Here is a tip for those of us that like to use area rugs over wall-to-wall carpet:

You can prevent the severe indentations that happen when furniture sits in one place for a long time, like with a dining room table. Purchase 4-inch floor or wall tiles from the home improvement store and place the tiles between the wall-to-wall carpet and the padding for the area rug under each leg of the table. When the time comes to rearrange the furniture a few ice chips repeatedly placed in the indentions can help raise the nap of the rug back to normal.

In a dining room use a rug large enough to allow the chairs to be pulled in and out while still on the rug, as in this room.
Dining Room with Correct Size Area Rug

Here are a couple good sources with a variety of area rugs: CSN Rugs and Home Decorators. The following measurements will help with your rug shopping; click here for a printable PDF version.

Recommended Area Rug Sizes



GraceAnn Simoni of Yours Redesigned Naperville, IL, is a Redesign and Staging Specialist and Instructor, and a member of Interior Redesign Industry Specialists (I.R.I.S.).

If you need help getting the The Home You Want With the House You Have™ visit


Have you found it challenging to place area rugs in your space?

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