A living room with a well placed area rug

Placing Area Rugs: Where, When, Why, and How

Area rugs are a great choice for adding warmth and comfort to your home without committing to wall to wall carpeting. It’s also a great choice for those that desire flexibility because rugs can be easily swapped out when you redecorate. Here are some tips for placing area rugs in your home.

Choosing the Best Area Rug for Your Space

Not only do rugs add warmth and comfort in your home they also add artistic value to your design. So designers say start with the area rug first. From its design, you can choose colors to paint your walls and find throw pillows and paintings to complete the decor. Just make sure to follow this rule of thumb: The area rug should be a minimum of six inches and no more than two feet away from the wall. Depending on where you want to place your area rug, there are some rules you should adhere to.

  • If you want the rug in front of the couch, it should run the same width (or a little longer) than the couch.
  • Large bathrooms look best with circular area rugs.
  • For the dining area, you should put your dining room furniture on top of the rug.
  • For an area rug to look balanced under a bed, it should be large enough to extend beyond the sides of the bed. This should be at least 18 inches for a king or queen bed and at least 12 inches for a full or twin bed. Depending upon the size of the room there can be more rug extension around the bed, but not less, because that would make the rug look insignificant.

Flooring Considerations

If you have delicate flooring, like wood, cork, marble, and granite, area rugs can be a great way to protect them. However, walking on an area rug that has been placed over a dirty floor can grind dirt, dust, and sand into the wood. To prepare your floor, sweep and mop the entire area. Fix scratches before laying your rug down to ensure pristine floors when it's time to remove the rug.

If you have wood floors in your hallways, especially leading to your front door or garage, then you know the flooring gets a lot of wear. A runner rug will keep shoes from leaving marks when you're entering and exiting your home. If your rug has a rough finish on the bottom, it can gradually scratch wood floors. Provide a barrier between your rug and the floor with a non-slip rug pad. In places where you do the most walking or standing, choose a carpet pad with a little bit of extra cushioning.

Area Rugs on Carpeting

If you have old dingy carpeting that you’re not ready to replace then you might be interested in putting an area rug over it. You can experiment with texture when placing rugs over carpet. A high-pile, nubby, or faux-fur rug can create visual and sensory delight, contrasting with a low-pile carpet and allowing you to bring in interesting surfaces that wouldn't work over larger areas of the floor. Textured rugs in bright colors or patterns can add an exciting punch to a neutral room, but a high-pile rug in a neutral color is also a great way to break up a busily patterned low-pile carpet.

Last Updated: November 11, 2014