How to Place an Area Rug in Your Living Room

How to place a rug in your living room.

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A rug can completely transform the look of your living room, and it will either make or break it - so knowing how and where to place it is essential. And you're in luck; we are here to tell you exactly how to do that.

We will cover everything from the size of the living room rug, the do's and don'ts and some placement inspiration and ideas. By the end of this article, your living room won't know what hit it - you'll be able to transform it into your dream living room space!

People want a dining room rug for different reasons, and knowing how to best use the space available to you and choosing the right rug can make all the difference.

"There are three reasons you would want a rug," explains Eugene Colberg, principal at Colberg Architecture. "One is for comfort under your feet. Two, the acoustical benefits that might come with it. Third is space delineation; you want to have the rug helping to structure the room. For small, medium, and large rooms, these factors hold true. A good way of segmenting and structuring a room's appearance is with a rug—especially larger rooms."

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4 Ways to Place an Area Rug in Your Living Room

You can place an area rug in your living room in various ways. All it takes is working with the space available to you and positioning everything where it needs to be - in this next section; we'll tell you just how to do that and give you all the inspiration you need!

According to a spokesperson from Ruggable, "It's common to have the rug connected to the sofa, side tables, coffee table, and other furniture to ground a space. By having all furniture touch the rug, this creates one succinct area as opposed to looking like free-floating furniture pieces."

Now let's take a look at some stunning placement ideas in which you can incorporate all of your living room furniture, use your floor space, and design a room that looks incredible:

All Legs on the Rug

One gorgeous way of placing the rug is by putting it in a place where all the legs from your living room furniture sit on the rug. This look will require an extra-large rug to take up enough space and fit in with the room and furniture.

The placement is perfect if you have floating furniture, which means that none of your furniture is placed against a wall. There are some stunning rugs available that can complement your living room.

Putting all legs on the rug makes the space look more defined and creates unity. Some stunning accent chairs could perfectly finish off the look.

Front Legs Only on the Rug

Position the rug in such a way that only the front legs of the furniture sit on the rug. You can achieve this look by placing a coffee table in the middle of the rug and placing the front legs of your sofaschairs, side tables, or tables a few inches over the rug.

This way, a lot of the rug can be seen since the coffee table takes up the only room on your rug, leaving a lot of open space. The size of your rug is key for this look. If the rug is too big, the placement could look awkward and too open, and if the rug is too small, it could look very overcrowded.

Coffee Table on the Rug

Another divine placement is putting only your coffee table on the rug. Again, rug size is crucial in this case. This layout is an excellent choice if you have a small or narrow space available.

It is also better to use a small rug for this look. You do not want to leave too much open space to the point that the area looks empty. This placement will make your room look bigger. Consider the interior measurements of the area for this look so that you fill the right amount of negative space.

There are some gorgeous coffee tables you can choose from to complete this look!

A Rounded Arrangement

A rounded arrangement is modern and unique but unconventional - everybody loves round rugs! You can get this look by placing all your furniture around the outside of your round rug.

Here is some inspiration from Ruggable: "Use a round rug to highlight a section of your living room. If your living room is an open plan or large enough to accommodate an additional furniture grouping, a round rug can help define the space, creating a vignette or a focal point. Place your round rug under the furniture that you want to draw attention to."

You could even place one leg of a chair or sofa on the rug to create harmony and pull the whole design together. This look is a great way to get creative with your room placement.

How to Decide What Size Area Rug You Need For a Living Room

The rug size you go for heavily depends on the size of your living room and the size of the space you plan to use. You need to think about if you want a rug that takes up most of the floor space or if you'd prefer an accent rug that purely gives your room a pop of color and some texture.

Here is a helpful tip from Ruggable that could help you decide: "When selecting a rug for your living room, it's important to consider the size of your space, the size of your furniture, and the various layout options (whether it's an open floor plan or a more defined space), in case you one day may decide to rearrange furniture! "

Review: Read our Ruggable machine washable rug review here

Deciding on the right size can be quite a challenge. "To figure out your desired size, we recommend that you first measure your current space and arrange your furniture in a way that fits the space.

After that, mark the area that you'd like your rug to cover with an easy-to-remove tape. You can also use different-colored tape to mark the different-sized rug possibilities. This step is easy, quick, and makes visualizing and measuring more accurate."

Once you know what size rug you want, you can start planning your layout. Veronica Sanders from Design with Veronica also says:

"When choosing a rug, it's important to take into account both the size of the room and the placement of the furniture. Ideally, you want a rug that will fit all four legs of each piece of furniture on the rug. Leaving about four to eight inches of floor bordering the rug helps to ground the space and give the room a balanced look. It's also okay to have the two back legs slightly off the rug.

One mantra to live by when choosing a rug size is "bigger is better." A larger rug will anchor the space and make it feel more inviting, while a smaller rug can make a room feel cramped.

Of course, ultimately, you want to choose a rug that you love, and that fits your personal style, but following these general guidelines will help you narrow down your choices and find the perfect rug for your space."

What Rug is Best for a Small Living Room?

According to Ruggable, "Smaller area rugs, like a 6'x9' or 5'x7 ′, work best in an 11'x13' or smaller living room. These rug sizes leave about 2 feet of flooring bordering the rug on each side. There are a couple of ways to style your rug in small living spaces.

You can either sync your living room's color palette to your rug for a monochromatic look, or use the rug to create a playful and bold contrast. To make a small living room look brighter and more spacious, opt for lighter-colored rugs or rug colors that are as close to the color of your floor as possible."

It is best to use rugs in smaller living rooms to make the room look bigger and visually open up the space.

What Rug is Best for a Medium Living Room?

There is more flexibility when choosing a rug for a medium-sized living room, according to Veronica Sanders:

"Medium-sized rooms offer more flexibility when it comes to rug placement. You can either choose a rug that is large enough to anchor all the furniture in the room, or you can opt for two smaller rugs placed underneath each piece of furniture. This latter option is ideal for creating defined living areas in an open-concept space."

Rugs that are 8×10 or 5×8 make great choices.

What Rug is Best for a Large Living Room?

In a large living room, you have the freedom of choosing a much bigger rug or opting for one that is slightly smaller. Zara O'Hare states, "For large living rooms, an expansive feel can be avoided by having a rug that is 12 to 18 inches smaller than the room itself, then placing every piece of furniture on the rug."

Area rugs are great in larger living rooms, as they provide more floor coverage and can create harmony in your room. It is best to choose a rug that still allows for visible floor space, especially by the walls.

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Dos and Don'ts For Placing an Area Rug in a Living Room

Do Extend Rugs Under Furniture

Ensure that your rug extends under all of your key furniture pieces. All your furniture should be on the rug, or place the front legs of some major pieces on the rug. It is best to have all legs from smaller pieces of furniture on the rug.

Doing so creates harmony and can make the room look whole and put together. It also leaves enough negative space and makes the room look like one rather than empty and awkwardly placed.

Do Measure Before Buying

Ensure that you measure the space available to you. Putting a rug that is either too small or too big can ruin the whole room.

According to Ruggable, "Measure your current space and place your furniture in the area you wish to lay your rug on. Once your furniture is arranged, mark the area that you'd like your rug to cover with an easy-to-remove tape. This step is easy, quick, and makes visualizing and measuring more accurate."

Do Cover High-Traffic Areas

It is best to cover high-traffic areas with the rug. When you walk through your living room, you shouldn't have one foot on the rug and the other on the floor. This can lead to weird wear patterns and can be rather uncomfortable. It also tends to look very awkward.

Veronica Sanders says, "Do place your rug in an area where it will get plenty of foot traffic. This will help to protect your floor and keep your rug from looking too worn out too quickly."

Do Leave Equal Space

On both sides of your rug, you should leave an equal amount of floor space. Allow yourself between eight and 24 inches on all sides. The most typical distance is eighteen inches, but you can get away with much less in a tiny area. The rug should be placed in the middle of the space.

Do Consider More Than One Rug

You can get creative; sometimes, using more than one rug can complete the look. Don't be afraid to play with different rugs, patterns, sizes, or colors. 

Hope Austin from adds, "If your rug is small, then layer it on top of a larger, neutral rug – like a sisal or jute." and "If you have a large space with multiple seating areas, then use multiple rugs to define those spaces rather than one large rug."

Don't Skimp on Size

The biggest error people make when using area rugs as décor is choosing ones that are too small. Going big now will prevent you from having to replace it later. You want the rug to take up space and be seen, and serve a purpose in the room.

According to Farah Dhalla-Singh "Do not get a rug that is too short and both sofa legs can not sit on. Make sure your rug is at least 6″ wider (8″ is ideal) than your sofa on both sides."

And Zara O'Hare states, "Whilst the placement of a rug within a living room is an individual choice, and there are not a lot of wrong answers, the main "don't" to ensure you avoid is all cost is skimping on size. 

If the rug is too small for your living room, no matter the size of the room itself, the rug will be swallowed by the space available. Large rugs can be expensive, but you should always get the largest rug possible to give you more creative freedom."

Don't Be Afraid of Color and Pattern

Adopt color and pattern; area rugs are a terrific way to add playfulness and fun to the space. Veronica Sanders says, "Do choose a color that complements the rest of the room. If your living room is already full of bold colors and patterns, then you'll want to choose a more subdued rug. But if your decor is fairly simple, you can go for something with more personality."

Make sure that the colors or patterns match your curtains and the rest of the decor in the room. You could also add some houseplants for an extra pop of color.

Don't Place Your Best Rugs in Danger

While it may be tempting to put your nicest rug in a room or part of the room that serves as the focal point of the house, you should reconsider. It's advisable to avoid putting pricey area rugs in places where spills and accidents are likely to occur.

And avoid placing them near a fire. Veronica Sanders says, "Don't place your rug too close to the fireplace. The heat from the fire can damage the fibers of your rug and cause it to fade over time."

Don't Crowd All Furniture Onto the Rug

You don't want your space to look messy, so "Don't crowd all furniture onto the rug. This will make your space look cluttered and create visual tension." Ruggable experts always know what's best! You want enough room and space to be able to move around and that it looks visually clean.

Don't Place a Runner in an Open Area

Placing a runner in an open area can make it look out of place. According to a Ruggable expert, "Place a runner in the middle of an open area. Instead, anchor the runner to a wall or built-in or large piece of furniture to ground an area."

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FAQs About Placing an Area Rug in a Living Room

How far should a rug go under a couch?

In a large open area, the rug should be placed beneath the front legs of both sofas; alternatively, if you have a large rug, both sofas may be placed entirely on the rug. If there are chairs in the area, the front legs of each chair should "hover" or touch the rug.

Should a living room rug be centered?

It does not need to be, but the furniture should be centered around the rug. It is best to center the rug on a nig architectural element in the room. Essentially, your rug should be the focal point.

How far from the wall should a rug be?

Never put your rug right up against a wall. Hope Austin states, "Give your rugs room to breathe and place them about 12 inches from walls or architectural features such as doorways and fireplaces."

You still want to be able to see some floor.

How do you style a rug with a corner sofa?

It is best to follow the lines of the corner sofa and place a rug at the center of the sofa. Ensure a gap between the sofa and rug on all sides, and then top it off with a gorgeous coffee table.

Take a look on guide on How to Place a Rug Under a Sectional Sofa for inspiration.

Written by
Ash Read
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.

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