What’s the best rug size for my living room? Experts explain how to get the best fit

Choosing a rug that’s too small for your room is a common mistake. Our experts advise how to avoid it, and how to pick the right style for you.

It’s an easy mistake to make. You fall in love with a rug you’ve seen in a department store, but the moment you roll it out on your living room floor, you realise you’ve got the size all wrong.

At some point, we’ve all step back and wondered, ‘What’s the best rug size for my living room’?

The hairy problem is, yes, rugs do come in a range of standard sizes – but living rooms don’t. As such, a rug that looks perfectly fine in the sitting room of a one-bedroom flat might have all the decor gravitas of a 2nd Class postage stamp on the saloon floor of a grand country house.

So, is there any safe rug-sized ground to stand on? Follow the advice of our experts, whose job it is to choose and design rugs for living rooms big and small, and you’ll be well covered.

Follow the advice of our experts, whose job it is to choose and design rugs for living rooms big and small, and you’ll be well covered.

CarpetrightCredit: Carpetright

Don’t go too small

The most common mistake rug experts see

Jennifer MannersCredit: Jennifer Manners

Jennifer Manners is a rug designer who specialises in creating made-to-order rugs for a range of projects. She gives her view on how to approach finding a rug for your living room that looks custom made.

“The key to sizing a rug is to consider proportions. In a sitting room, for example, the sofas, chairs and tables can appear to take up a bigger proportion of the space, so these need to look balanced. The most frequent mistake I see people make is to size a rug too small. It’s such an effective design element that actually makes a room feel bigger, but because it can be an investment item, people are inclined to choose a smaller one.

Featured product

Scallop, Jennifer Manners

RRP: £700

Scallop, Jennifer Manners
Jennifer MannersCredit: Jennifer Manners

“Equally, I like for a rug to look like a rug and not a pseudo-carpet in that it is so big it hardly shows any floor, particularly when the floors are pretty. The other thing to consider is colour and its contrast with the floors: less contrast makes the space feel calmer, whereas more contrast can zone areas and create a strong sense of multi-purposes within a room.”

Featured product

Art Deco, Jennifer Manners

RRP: £4,168

Art Deco, Jennifer Manners

With rugs, it’s personal

What do you want your rug to do?

CarpetrightCredit: Carpetright

“Adding a new rug can instantly transform a living room and is one of the easiest ways to create a luxurious touch without making a large investment,” says Punam Chada, carpet buyer at Carpetright.

“The size of your rug is not only determined by the dimensions of the room but also your practical requirements and personal preference.

“If your aim is to protect wood flooring, then an area rug that provides maximum coverage is the way to go. Not only do they add another level of comfort but also they help to warm the decor of a room with a contrasting design and colour.

“Available in a variety of patterns and colours, statement rug can also instantly transform a room. If you have a compact living room and want to give the illusion of extra space, then a small-sized rug can help achieve this.”

Featured product

Alto Moroccan Grey & Cream Rug, Carpetright

RRP: £89.99

Alto Moroccan Grey & Cream Rug, Carpetright
Credit: Well Woven

Trip hazards are often a concern when choosing rugs. Never lay a rug without a suitable underlay. Adem Ogunc, senior product developer at Well Woven advises that the shorter the rug pile, the easier walking on it tends to be.

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Archer Modern Stripes Grey Glam Rug, Well Woven

RRP: £99 - £179

Archer Modern Stripes Grey Glam Rug, Well Woven

How to measure up for a rug

Be precise for the best fit

Credit: Carpetright

Chada says: “There are never any hard and fast rules when it comes to interiors. That said, the size of a rug is often based on the dimensions of the seating area. Having a rug fill the empty space created by the way the furniture is arranged is probably the most common guide for people when purchasing for any size of room.”

Having a visual aid certainly helps. Interior designers often use technical drawings of the floor plan to play around with rug sizes in the living room.

There is another quick trick you can try at home.

“Measure the area where you plan to use the rug and tape out a placement with masking tape to get an idea of how it will look in the space,” advises Ogunc.

“No matter the size, you’ll want to leave at least 45-60cm (18-24in) of exposed floor around the perimeter of the room.”

Featured product

Dynasty Twist, Carpetright

RRP: £8.99 per metre square

Dynasty Twist, Carpetright
Credit: Carpetright

During this process you will get a feel for what layout most appeals to you. You’ll know if you prefer to have furniture legs completely on, half-on or completely off the rug.

This is down to personal taste, as is the shape of the rug you choose. Typically, you can choose from rectangular, square or circular rugs. Don’t be afraid to rip up the tape and start again, and keep trying until you find a sizing and shape that feels right alongside your furniture.

Another important ground rule is for the width of the rug to be larger than the width of the sofa, for visual balance. Ideally, your rug should be at least 38-63cm (15-25in) wider on either side.

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Amouage Cream Rug, Carpetright

RRP: £199

 Amouage Cream Rug, Carpetright

Here are some handy tips to consider when measuring up

  1. If your sitting area is spacious you might wish to opt for a large, sumptuous rug. To make the space feel truly luxurious, consider having all seating placed fully on the rug. Leave around 20cm (8in) between the furniture and the edge of the rug, so that the furniture doesn’t look awkward.

 

 

2. Living room mid-sized? It makes aesthetic sense for the rug to be proportionally reduced, with only the front legs of the seating furniture placed on it.

3. In small living rooms, where there might only be space to put a rug directly in front of the sofa, try placing only a single piece of furniture, such as a small coffee table, directly on it.

Standard rug sizes

It’s worth having them in mind when measuring

Credit: Crucial Trading

Unless you are planning to get a piece custom made for your living room, you’ll be making your selection from pre-made rugs.

Each manufacturer has a standard range of fixed sizes, so keep these in mind when measuring up. Again, there is no hard and fast rule, but within reason, standard rectangular rug sizes fall roughly within these perimeters:

Standard measurements

80 x 150cm (31.5 x 55in) – best for popping under a small coffee table in a tight space or for layering with larger rugs – this can be a small sheepskin. 

 

 

120 x 170cm (47 x 70in) – best for placing in front of the sofa, especially if there is no other seating in the room.

160 x 230cm (63 x 90.5in) – best for zoning a corner sofa. Place a coffee table directly in front when the space is limited to create a comfy seating zone.

230 x 340cm (90.5 x 134in) – best for an accent rug in a large room – again, check your furniture layout to make sure all pieces fit on it.

280 x 360cm (110 x 142in) – best for an area rug in a large room.

Featured product

Sisal Harmony Boucle Rug, Crucial Trading

RRP: from £151.88

Sisal Harmony Boucle Rug, Crucial Trading

How to break the rules with rug sizes

Ideas for using rugs in unexpected ways

Studio DeanCredit: Studio Dean

“In terms of sizing, there’s no ‘you have to have this size’ template – it’s more about being creative with your space and utilising a rug within that space as you choose,” says Claire Kimble, senior design manager at Crucial Trading.

“I am also seeing interior spaces with multiple rugs alongside one another. They may denote a different purpose within the one room, but there is always synergy between them, perhaps through use of subtle shades of timeless colour.”

Studio Dean Quiet Luxury Sitting RoomCredit: Studio Dean

Abstract-shaped rugs can give your living room a fun and unexpected energy. Classic examples are sheepskins and cowhides. These work well as standalone rug accents, and can be very effective, as with this Studio Dean project, placed alone under a central piece of furniture. Even small-scale abstract rugs work well in this way.

Another option is to layer these rugs on conventional rectangular or square rugs.

Layering can also be a good option for vintage rugs that might too small to stand alone.

Written by Joy Archer she/her

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