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Area Rug Buying and Measuring Guide

Your new area rug is destined to be the anchor of your decor—literally—so you want to get it right. Find the perfect size, shape, style, and color for your space using these tips and techniques. You’ll be floored by how great your home will look!

Edited September 6, 2016 | Share

Shop for area rugs with confidence - watch this video to learn more about the importance of fiber, weave, size, and styling when choosing a rug.

Sizing Up Your Rug

Choosing the best area rug size is as easy as pulling a tape measure. Measure the width and depth of your couches and chairs. Next, choose a rug that is small enough to fit fully inside your arrangement, or big enough to reach at least a foot beyond the backs of the furniture.

"If your rug doesn’t entirely encompass your furniture legs, make sure that at least the front legs of each furniture piece are comfortably on the rug, hopefully with a little room to spare."

If you can work with standard rug sizes like 5x8, 7x9 or 9x12 feet, you’ll find far more options to choose from.

Border Patrol

Leave at least two feet of open space between the rug edge and your walls, creating a natural border around the room. A rug with a border pattern and complex design will cozy up an arrangement if your room feels too open. For smaller spaces, soft colors in monochrome or geometric designs will make the set feel bigger.

The Bedroom

Choose an area rug that is at least 4 feet wider than your bed (2 feet on each side and foot). Your tender toes will met the warm, cushy rug first thing in the morning, not the bony border. It often looks better when the rug doesn’t reach all the way to the headboard, especially if the bed is against the wall. If your rug is thick, use carpet pad stick-ons to raise the headboard-end legs to level.

Fringe Element

Fringe is charming and classic, lovely in an older home. Avoid fringe in the dining room or other high traffic areas. It’s harder to clean and will snag your vacuum cleaner—or your toes. Cats will devote their lives to fraying your fringe, so decide which you love more.

Oval Office

Oval and round rugs can be trickier to fit in a room full of chairs. But in low-traffic rooms full of angular objects like desks, file cabinets and drawers, a round rug will soften all those edges, making the room feel much more serene.

The Dining Room

Plan for at least 18 inches of rug behind the back of each chair. You don’t want a chair leg dangling over the edge, buckling the rug up as your guest scoots forward to enjoy dinner—tripping you just as you’re bringing in the gravy boat.

Square Deal

Imagining your rug and chairs as a single item, try placing the set at an angle to the room. This angled arrangement can seem adrift in large rooms, but in smaller spaces it adds airyness and an arty excitement. It’s free to try it.

Above all, remember that your area rug should be a foundation, not a focal point. Let your furniture and decorations be the star, while the rug, as The Dude says in The Big Lebowski, “ties everything together.” Once you see how naturally beautiful your room becomes, you’ll understand why The Dude risked life and limb (and a little toe) to get his rug back.