Blog, Decorating with Rugs

Tips on How to Measure for an Area Rug

Measuring for area rugs and the uncertainties associated with sizing area rugs is one of our customer’s biggest dilemmas.  Below are some tips on how to measure for an area rug.

How to Measure for an Area Rug

1. Select the area rug prior to selecting the paint:   Paint is available in a lot more colors than the other area within your decor. So, it is better to come up with those much less versatile choices.  Also, keep in mind that fresh paint may be the fastest and a lot inexpensive method to change a room

2. Outline area rug area with masking tape: Before going shopping, understand what size you’ll need, the length and width. When you use a measuring tape to figure out the rug size, you lose perspective of how the rug will look in your room, as you are just reading the tape measure. Masking tape is a terrific way to picture the area rug proportions.

3. Legs on or off the area rug: There’s lots of discussion about whether or not furniture legs need to remain on or off the area rug. Within our thoughts, it truly varies with your space and style.

   Family Room In the family room, a very good guideline would be to keep uniformity so your selection appears deliberate. This implies all legs are generally off or on the area rug, or just the front legs are on the rug. In either case, be sure that your area rug is at the very least six to 10 inches on each side from the couch. This frames the couch. You can have the rug come up to the edge of the sofa, which also defines and frames the sofa, or put just the front legs on the area rug.

Custom Matisse Inspired Rug

Custom Matisse-Inspired Rug

Dining Room The legs off or on the issue is less complicated within the dining area. Due to the fact seats are pulled out of the table, it seems sensible to get the table and chairs to stay completely on the area rug with sufficient rug space to draw the chair out so chairs are not catching on the rug’s edges. Our rule of thumb is to close the table. This is placing the chairs uniformly around the table as it is dressed. Measure at the VERY MINIMUM 18″ behind the back chair legs. You can have more distance, but this will be enough so that someone who pulls out the chairs, will not come off the rug. Also, the sides and ends do not need to be the same. There is usually less space on the two ends and more on the sides. Just keep the rug extending on the ends the same and the rug extending on the sides the same

Custom Floral Area Rug

Custom Floral Area Rug

   Bedroom If you are putting a rectangle-shaped area rug that does not occupy sufficient floor area beneath your bed, place it so the bed’s foot legs are on it but the head legs are off. Therefore the area around the bed (in which you will step out of bed) features a comfortable landing place. Also if you have end tables try and extend the rugs slightly past the end table. This will frame the bed area. The area rug can go up to dressers and side pieces or just under the front legs. The key here is to frame the room. Try to keep a uniform amount of floor showing around the room If there is a significant open region within a bedroom (particularly a child’s room), a round accent area rug at the center could be a fun, fanciful accent.

Custom Child's Round Rug

Custom Child’s Round Rug


. 4. Leave some area surrounding the area rug    Room size really determines how much floor space you want to show. Larger rooms can show more floor space. In smaller rooms you need to fill the room with the rug or your eye will draw the room in making the room look smaller. We call this the postage stamp effect. It looks like you have placed a postage stamp rug in the room. You also need to be careful about doing this in a large room. again the masking tape idea described above will help with deciding the rug size. Similarly, hall and step runners display best when they’re a couple of inches narrower compared to the hallway. The same concept as described above can be used for hallways. If you have a narrow hall or step runner, you need to make the rug as wide as you can. Otherwise, the runner will appear like a landing strip and draw your eye in, making the space look smaller.

Custom Wilton Stair Runner with Handsewn Border

Custom Wilton Stair Runner with Handsewn Border

5. Considering doorways and architecture in measuring for an area rug One of the most common mistakes we see is corners in the middle of a doorway. This creates a trip hazard and also does not frame the room well. Look at the lines of the room. Stop the rug at either side of a doorway, but not in the middle. Look at areas you want to frame, bookcases, fireplaces, sofas, seating areas, etc. The masking tape method will help you determine the best size

Custom Mission Style Foyer Rug

Custom Mission Style Foyer Rug

8. Think about layering area rugs  Because big area rugs have become costly and choosing the best size can often be challenging, think about layering area rugs. This may imply using a small beautiful oriental or antique rug over the sisal or wool area rug.  You can highlight seating areas or use a smaller rug to add a pop of color or texture.  This Design technique also allows you to reduce your budget by buying a smaller rug to lay over a less expensive larger rug. These are just some ideas that we have put into practice over the years and have helped hundreds of clients with sizing options.  Let us know if you have any size or design dilemmas.  The friendly staff at Rug Rats would be happy to help!

Want a custom rug to match your fabric, wallpaper, paint, or other surroundings? You may have a particular color in mind. Do you want a piece of furniture, art, or textiles to be complimented on your custom rug? We are happy to accommodate YOUR personal requests.

About Sandy Henderson

Sandy Henderson is owner of Rug Rats Fine Carpet and Rugs, a small town business with a national presence. Sandy was drawn to materials and design and wanted to explore how we can take charge of the beauty and happiness of our own homes. She earned a degree in Clothing and Textiles, from historic Longwood College (founded over two hundred years ago as a teachers’ college in Farmville, Virginia). Sandy now draws on her 36 years in the custom rug business to help clients all over the US with their custom & logo rug decisions.

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6 thoughts on “Tips on How to Measure for an Area Rug

  1. mari says:

    Great Article Sandy! I really like the idea of layering a smaller rug on top of a larger area rug. I will be moving into a new, small space and have an oval glass top table (48″ x 24″) that will have a small (rust colored) ottoman (18″) positioned slightly 12″ under it at one end and then a round glass top (18″) end table that will be 12″ over it –creating one furniture configuration that can be taken apart when necessary for use. Both tables have white pedestal bases. I am interested in an oval rug that would incorporate taupe, burnt orange, teal and white (the table bases are white and the rest of the room will be very light taupe, burnt orange accent bookcase and teal and burnt orange art sculpture pieces. ) The table and area carpet will be situated in a 16″ 11.5′ room in a 11.5′ by 8′ area and positioned directed in front of a 9.5′ couch/chaise (framing the 2 walls of this space.) Across from this seating area will be a ribbon fireplace with a teal surround and built in bookcases surrounding the fireplace painted in light taupe. I am thinking of a 5′ x’8 area rug that the custom oval rug would sit on top of. (I like the idea of being able to change up the color of the rectangular rug from time to time! :)

    What size oval rug would you recommend? Any recommendations for a modern contemporary design that you may have would be very welcome. Also there will be medium to light cherry wood flooring. Thanks!!!!! I look forward to reading your suggestions!!:)

    1. I have several suggestions for you for the Oval Rug and I believe you are inquiring about a larger rug for the oval to sit on. I will send them directly to your email. Thanks for the inquiry!

  2. Leslie says:

    Hi Sandy
    I have a 74″x48″ dining table with 6 chairs. How big does the rug under the table have to be? Thanks so much for your help.

    1. Leslie:
      My rule of thumb is a minimum of 18” behind each back chair leg. Place your chairs at the table. Measure 18” from each chair leg back. That is a minimum amount you will need to pull a chair out and not come off the rug. Your end chairs will stick out from the table more than the side chairs. If you have the room, an 8 ft. x 10 ft. would work. If your room is large go bigger. What you don’t want is to put a bare minimum sized rug under the table in a large room. This will create what I call a postage stamp look.
      If you have any questions, you can email me, Thanks for the inquiry.

  3. Jeannie Powers says:

    What area rug should I put in my foyer? large foyer with a 1/2 moon shape window over the door, size foyer is 11ft. x 9ft . My question is should I put a round area rug or rectangular area rug on the floor?

    1. A round or rectangle would be fine in your foyer. The half moon shape would not direct the shape of the rug that you want to use. Just find a rug that is pleasing with your colors and one that is pleasing to you. It will all work.

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