Design Inspo

What Size Rug for a Living Room Is the Right Size?

Finding the perfect rug can be a challenge. Learn how to do it by following a few simple rules that make finding the right size for your space easy.

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An area rug pulls a room together, delineates a space, and can be a focal point. In a living room, a rug gives your furniture an anchor and can help you arrange your living room furniture easily. It’s also a fun way to incorporate your personal style by choosing funky patterns or brighter color palettes that push boundaries in your design.

The problem most people have with purchasing a living room rug is buying too small. Once the rug is purchased and placed (and you realize it’s too small), it can seem overwhelming to move everything again and return it. We’ve all been there before.

Below, we’ll give you all the tips to pick a rug that fits perfectly in your living space so you don’t have to worry about returns and can enjoy your new space the moment the rug is in place. You can thank us later.

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The Rug Basics

When selecting a rug for your living room design, there are a few general rules you’ll want to follow to make sure the rug size is perfect. 

  • Unless you have an extremely large or small living room, an 8X10 or 9X12 will likely be the perfect fit. The 8X10 or 9X12 sizes are the most popular living room rug sizes for a good reason.
  • A rug should be wider than your sofa, even if that sofa is a sectional. Look for a size that is a foot wider than the total length of your sofa.
  • Don’t buy a rug shorter than your sofa’s length or that perfectly matches your sofa’s length; it will make your furniture look overpowering in the room. 

Most living rooms are — at most — 15X20 square feet, even in grand homes. Most experts agree that there should be 12 to 18 inches of walkway space between furniture pieces and adjoining walls. An area rug size 8X10 or 9X12 should fit nicely within that space and allow you to design your furniture around it. 

Furniture Positions

There are two schools of thought for how your furniture should be positioned on your living room rug: all legs on deck or just the front legs. 

How To Measure

First, measure the space between each piece of furniture and the space between your furniture and the walls. Leave at least 12 to 18 inches between pieces of furniture and between the walls to keep it comfortable and avoid overcrowding your space. 

Within that space, the edge of the rug should extend from the edge of furniture (on all sides) at least eight inches.

  • All legs are on the rug. Determine if there’s enough room to place all the furniture legs of all your conversational pieces (sofas, armchairs, coffee tables, and side tables) to sit on top of the rug and keep the aforementioned distance. 
  • Front legs on the rug. For this style, you’ll only place the front legs of your furniture on the rug, and it’s usually only the seating pieces like sofas and chairs. Side tables look fine when placed off of the rug. 

A good rule of thumb is to place one-third of the width of the piece of furniture on the rug. For instance, if you have a couch that is 36” wide, you’d place 12” of it on the rug. Remember that you’ll still want to leave adequate space between your pieces and between your pieces and the wall if your furniture isn’t placed directly against a wall. 

The front legs approach is the most popular option and helps you keep a safe distance between your furniture pieces. 

Measure Twice, Place Once

A tried-and-true old interior designer hack is using painter’s tape to “map out” your designs. Before you place the perfect rug in the living room, grab some masking tape and tape off the area it will cover. By doing so, you can make sure the rug size doesn’t make the room feel too cramped and that you don’t need a larger rug. It’s also extremely helpful for creating a template so that once you move your furniture onto the rug, you can make sure it stays in place. 

Let’s be real, though: who has the time to tape out furniture markings and move everything around? To avoid getting that awful tape residue on your prized hardwood floors, check the proportions with Spoak’s interior design tools first.

With virtual mock-ups, you can input your actual furniture in your living room, wall color, and other home decor pieces. Simply check if the rug dimensions look right: No need to move that accent chair made of marble more than you have to. 

Rule Breakers

As with basically anything interior design, the most important part of finding the right size rug is that you love it. If that means breaking the rules and opting for an extra small rug, luckily, there’s a way to make it work. 

Smaller Rugs

You’ve got a beautiful rug that matches your seating area perfectly and brings you joy every time you see it. Unfortunately, it only measures 5X8. Not to worry, you can still use your favorite rug as part of your living room decor with a few helpful hacks. 

  • Layer it with a large rug. Layering two rugs of different sizes adds texture to your room and allows you to use the one you love without it looking shrunken in your space. Popular layering materials include linen, jute, shag, and wool rugs. 
  • Go for a floating rug. If layering isn’t an option due to limited floor space or room space, opt for a floating rug or “island” rug. For this look, place your small rug under one piece of furniture, typically the coffee table or the centermost piece in the room.

Just be sure that your seated furniture legs aren’t on top of the rug. You should have about five to six inches of space between the edge of the rug and the edge of the furniture. Careful measurements will ensure the room doesn’t feel cramped. 

Sometimes, heartbreakingly, a small rug stubbornly won’t work. If that’s the case, check other rooms in your home to see if you can repurpose the rug elsewhere. A too-small living room rug might be the perfect-sized dining room rug. There’s usually a way to make things work, and if there isn’t, there’s always Facebook Marketplace!

Larger Rugs

Rugs that are too large for your space can quickly look like wall-to-wall carpeting — nobody has time (or interest) for that. To prevent this, layer a smaller rug on top of the mega-rug or opt for an asymmetric rug, like a faux cowhide or fur rug. 

Working With Asymmetric Rugs

Asymmetric rugs are great for layering and can help pull together an open-concept living space. The basic rule for placing asymmetrical rugs is to examine the space you’re working with. Keep a healthy 12 to 18-inch sweet spot between individual furniture pieces and furniture and walls. 

Since an asymmetrical rug may not allow for a full third of the furniture to be on top of it, you’ll have to play around with the placement to ensure it works for the room layout. 

Love Creating the Spaces You Love 

Designing your dream space can be overwhelming, even if you’re incredibly creative. Using Spoak can help. Our design suite makes it easy for you to map out your plans, explore new design options, and create rooms that are uniquely yours

Photo Credit: (Left) Layered Interior


What Size Rug Do I Need for My Living Room? | WSJ 

Sofa Dimensions Vs. Room Size | Home 

How to Choose the Right Size Rug for Every Room | Architectural Digest 

Start dreaming up the perfect rug in your space today by creating a mock-up in Spoak.

Date Posted
March 20, 2023



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