Special Nonexistent Furniture
22 February, 2012

How to choose the right size rug

Choosing the right size rug for your space is essential. Just like in fashion, a bad fit can morph a designer purchase into a faux pas before you can say Kardashian. Proportion is the hard part. Get it right and you're in decorator nirvana.  Wrong, and you're back with the Kardashians. To coincide with the great rugs in our feature today, we've put together a guide to measuring your space and choosing a rug.

Measure your space
Think about the space you are defining with the rug. Are you using a rug to fill a whole room, or are you using it to define a seating or dining area within a larger room? Once you've decided, you need to measure the space. If you're measuring a furnished area, measure a rectangle (or square) around the outside edge of the furniture (make sure you're happy with the furniture placement, of course!). Write the measurements down. If you're feeling a bit Virgo, draw a plan of the room or space to scale, including the furniture.

Which size do I need?
If you're placing a rug in a small room and using it to cover most of the floorspace, as an alternative to fitted carpet, make sure you leave a reasonable gap (at least 20 – 30cm) between the rug and the walls on all sides.

If you're placing a rug under a dining table, it should be wide enough that the chairs are completely on the rug even when the chairs are pulled out and guests are sitting at the table. This usually means the rug needs to be around 120cm wider than the table to allow an extra 60cm width on each side.

If you're using a rug in a seating area with sofas and chairs, it gets slightly trickier.  The rule of thumb has traditionally been that the legs of an occasional chair should be all on the rug, or all off the rug, while a sofa can have just its front legs on the rug. Having the furniture all on the rug anchors the rug effectively to the furniture and feels more expansive. Make sure there is around 20 - 30cm of rug behind each piece of furniture so it doesn't look mean. This image from Elle Decor shows how a larger rug makes the furnished space look larger.

If you're trying to create a smaller, more intimate space, use a smaller rug as an accent, but try to make sure it's anchored by the front legs of the sofa and perhaps a coffee table too. This image (Elle Decor again!) shows how using the smaller rug draws the space inwards - it looks cosier.

Decision time
Once you've chosen a rug design, mark out its size on the floor with masking tape or string. Virgos will definitely use newspaper to create something the same size as the rug - nothing beats visualising the size this way. Check how a bigger size will look too - rugs always look smaller once you get them home!

Remember that "rules" like these can always be successfully broken as long as you pay attention to the proportions of the room and the furniture. We'd love to hear your ideas about making rugs work.

Choose your perfect rug now.

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