How to Choose the Right Sized Rug for your Living Room

The living room is often the most comfortable room of the home, and what better way to relax in comfort than with an amazing floor rug. But are rugs really necessary for the perfect living room, or are they just a time and money sink? For most interior experts, the rug is an essential part of the décor, though there are ways to get around the rules of interior design while still maintaining the perfect balance of style, comfort and convenience. 

A living room rug can tie together your decor, which is why its important to choose the best rug size for your space.

There's no short answer to "What's the right rug size for my living room?" as it depends on several factors including your space requirements, furniture placement, lifestyle and final vision for your home. Fortunately, we have consulted the experts and put together these handy hints for styling living room rugs of all different sizes.

What Is The Most Common Living Room Rug Size?

When choosing the right size rug for your living room, you should consider the type of layout you’re using, whether you want a circular, square or rectangle rug, the actual size of your living room, and your budget. While this differs from brand to brand and room to room, rugs for the living room tend to come in three standard sizes: 250x350 (large), 200x300 (medium) and 160x230 (small).

Styling large rugs

An area rug covers most of your living room, allowing you to place all the furniture on the rug.

A large size rug helps the furniture to feel anchored and the room to feel proportioned - as long as it doesn’t run too close to the walls. You should be leaving a gap of about 30cm between the wall and your rug. This rug size can make your room feel cosy and give the feeling of a carpeted floor without fully covering your beautiful hardwood or tiles. It adds a much-needed layer of comfort to the room, especially for small children wanting to run and crawl through the family room. 

Most interior designers will urge you to choose the largest size possible when choosing your living room rug, as this is the perfect size for comfort and balance.

Styling medium rugs

A medium sized rug is perfect for smaller living rooms. These rugs should at least be the length of, if not longer than, the main sofa.

The best size rug for your bedroom, medium rugs can also make a great living room rug in the right hands. If you feel overwhelmed by larger rugs or need something more budget-friendly, a medium-sized rug can be just as fashionable. The perfect medium size rug extends at least 10cm under all the furniture, specifically under the front legs. Since a medium rug gives you a more flexible budget, you might be able to spend a little more on a more elaborate patterned piece, such as an oriental or large shag rug.

Styling small rugs

Small rugs can be used as accent pieces to draw the eye and ground your furniture.

Though you won’t has the same benefits as a full-coverage rug, smaller rugs give you extra flexibility. Instead of spending your budget on a larger, less elaborate rug, you can choose the perfect artistic rug for your space. They’re easy to move around or swap out thanks to their size, and it will be easier to reach and clean them. If you already have a small rug you just can’t get rid of, but you still want an area rug, you can get creative by layering it on top of a larger plain sisal rug like you see styled here. You can also use multiple small rugs either side by side or spread around the living room for a unique, fun look. 

Downsides Of Buying A Rug That Is Too Small

Why are you buying a rug for your living room? Top answers usually include comfort and differentiating a space. A rug is a great focal point that tells guests this is the area for conversations over coffee. If you buy a too-small rug size it may look awkward, feel unbalanced and diminish your living room space. The last thing you want is for your living room, the main activity area, to look smaller. Don’t be afraid to go big for a perfectly proportioned living room. Of course, don’t go too big…too far the other way and you’ll have the same effect, on top of making the room look overcrowded. The ideal full-coverage rug size stops around 30cm away from your wall.

Should I buy a round rug or a square rug?

You can layer a smaller round rug over a larger square or rectangle rug for a unique decorative spin.

What shape you choose for your rug can come down to taste. Square or rectangle rugs are perfect for high-traffic areas and can help a small room look larger, while round rugs can give you more flexibility in terms of placement (or less, depending on your furniture) and make great accent pieces. Square rugs are better for area rugs that cover the whole room, while a smaller rug will look better if it's round. If you’re struggling to choose, you can always mix and match by layering a smaller round rug over a larger square one, but avoid square rugs on top of round rugs. Ultimately, you should choose a rug shape that best suits your existing decor: round rugs may go great with zen, boho or pop-style homes, while square and rectangle rugs can suit a minimalist or industrial theme.

Rug layout styles

All Legs On The Rug

The "All Legs on the Rug" layout is ideal for most living rooms, especially those with sectional and modular sofas.

This is the ideal layout style for most living rooms. Why? Because it covers all your decorating and aesthetic needs. For this style, all key pieces of furniture are placed on the rug. This style works especially well with sectional or modular sofas. Not only are sectionals larger than other sofas (which requires a larger rug), they can be rearranged on top of a large rug without having to move it. If you were using smaller rugs, you may have to reposition them to fit under your new furniture layout, meaning you have to do twice the moving.

Another benefit of this style is that the furniture weighs down the carpet, meaning you and your guests won’t be tripping over any edges. You can also make the most of a rug’s sound-insulating properties and prevent disturbances during movie night. 

This is also the perfect layout for your dining room, as all dining table legs should be on the rug. Not only does this prevent food and furniture legs from damaging your hardwood floors, but it creates a warm atmosphere for family dinners.

Front Legs On The Rug

The front legs only layout, where you only place the front legs of your furniture on the rug, is perfect for small living rooms.

This layout works best for smaller living rooms, if you’re on a tighter budget and can’t afford a whole area rug, or if you just prefer less fabric on your floors. If you can’t have a rug that goes under all of your furniture, the next best option is a rug that sits under the front legs of your sofas by at least 10cm. If you have any other smaller furniture, such as a coffee table or ottoman, these should be fully on the rug. Leave an equal amount of uncovered space around the furniture grouping for the perfect balance. 

As with the all-legs layout, your carpet edges are held down which prevents tripping and the rug will help reduce noise. You’ll have an easier time cleaning these rugs since you’ll only have to lift the front of your furniture to get to the edges - no bending under the couch to clean it!

This layout is the next best thing for living rooms, but it is the perfect layout for bedrooms, with the bed sitting partially on a rug.

No Legs On The Rug (The Float)

The float layout is great for small living rooms using accent rugs. All furniture should be off the rug except for a central coffee table.

This layout is great for tiny living rooms, or if you want the aesthetics of a rug without the hassle of maintenance.

With this layout, you can either leave the carpet completely uncovered and use it as an accent piece or put a coffee table in the centre so that it draws attention inwards and creates an intimate, cosy atmosphere. The carpet should be a little longer than or exactly the length of the sofa (or whatever your main seating arrangement is) to maintain balance.

How do I place my new rug?

Measure twice, place once

Always measure your room before buying a rug (or any other furniture, for that matter!). Measure the area of your room, the length of your couch and coffee table, and the distance between your settings. You'll want to make sure the rug is at least as long as the main seating, and that it fits around your furniture pieces without hassle. Armed with the right measurements, choosing a rug will be easy.

Tape the outline

Use masking tape or painter's tape to create an outline of where your perfect rug will go. It will help you visualise the end product. You can try outlining standard rug sizes, your ideal rug size, or the edge of your furniture to find the perfect configuration before you've even laid down the right rug.

Choosing the correct rug size for your living room comes down to 3 simple rules:

As a general rule, the bigger, the better. Just stay 30cm away from your walls and keep all legs inside the rug.

If you can't go bigger, go 10cm or more under the front legs of your furniture pieces.

You can layer smaller over larger and round over square, but not the other way around!

Rugs with an anti-slip base are great for homes with children or pets and will help prevent accidents.

Whether you're looking to cover your living room, bedroom or dining area, Artiss has a rug for every setting. Check out our blog How to Pick the Perfect Floor Rug for your Space to see how else you can use rugs within the home, or check out our website for everything else you need to decorate your home, from floor lamps to room dividers. No matter how you choose to decorate your living room, Artiss has a unique piece just for you.