How To Get Your Rug Size Right

Nothing irks me more than seeing a tiny postage stamp of a rug in a space. You know the one where the furniture only has its front legs resting on it, as if it is clawing to get a piece of that rug action. In this post, I’ll enlighten you on how to choose the perfect rug size and what to do if that size is unusual.

The Problem

More often than not, people select a rug based on the size that is surrounding their coffee table. Doing this means that only the front legs of their sofa, sectional, or chair, etc. is actually on the rug and really makes it feel like an afterthought. Something they “should” have, but didn’t want to fully commit to.

Proportionally, this will never work. Your rug will always look tiny if this is how you determine the size of it.

Our brain wants to read a space as a whole and puts a little invisible fence up around the perimeter of the furniture to define the area mentally. Everything in that zone is in direct proportion to the largest object contained within the invisible fence and the remaining space. When you put a rug that is smaller than this perceived perimeter, your brain automatically defines it as tiny, because in proportion to everything else, it is. 

Besides that, it is just weird. When half of your furniture is on the rug it creates “naked” floor space. You wouldn’t put on a pair of pants that had shorts on one leg and a bell bottom on the other, would you? Maybe you would. I don’t know you. But either way, that would look a bit off.

The Solution

So what do you do? Easy. Get a bigger rug!

The rug should be large enough to be 2 or so inches past the perimeter of the furniture. So past the back of the sofa, or side of the end table, or back of chairs, etc. ALL of the furniture needs to sit on the rug. Of course, this can change slightly given your spacial parameters, but this is a good rule of thumb.

By doing so, your brain then reads your space as larger because you are now a few inches bigger than the biggest object in that invisible fence. Magic. 

But there’s a catch because, most of the time, this creates a rug size that is not typically found. So how do you solve that problem? Well, you have two options:

Option 1

Buy a rug larger than what you need and have it cut down to be the exact size you want. Certain manufactures offer this service or you can find a third party to do the work.

Option 2

Go custom. This could be having your rug created from scratch or by finding a broadloom carpet. Most carpet that you would install wall-to-wall will come in widths from 13 to 15 feet and pretty much endless lengths. I have done them as long as 30 feet in some instances.

If your rug is larger than that, you will need to seam two pieces together. Some patterns and fibers seam better than others, so be sure to inquire about this with the manufacturer you are purchasing from. And if you do have to have a seam, try to run it under the sofa instead of right down the center of your furniture arrangement so it is hidden.

Edge Details

Once you have your size, you have to decide how you want your raw edges finished. The most popular options are hand-surged and machine-surged.

Hand-surged is more time consuming and costly, but you are able to customize the exact threads used or pattern. So it is a good choice if you have the funds and want to do a decorative stitch weave or something with multiple colors.

Machine-surged is quicker and less expensive. It is typically match the background color of the rug, but you could have the option to do a specific color depending on your fabricator.  

Some manufacturers use a woven flat edge binding that can be up to two inches wide, instead of surging. Frankly, this is ugly. I beg you, do not do this. It will cheapen the look of your rug and your eye will go straight to it instead of taking in the beauty of your rug, and your space as a whole. Don’t go through all that trouble to make it exactly how you want it and then throw it all away on this little detail.


As with anything, there are a few general guidelines I follow when determining the rug size for a specific room.


In bedrooms, I like to stop the rug a few inches short of the nightstand. Since nightstands are up against the wall, if the rug were to follow suit and go under them it would visually feel off balanced and as if it were cramped to one side. Plus, your nightstands could then become slightly tilted since part of them is on a rug and part of them isn’t.

You want to also be mindful of your walking path between the edge of the bed and the edge of your dresser, assuming the are across from each other. It’s awkward to walk with one foot on a rug and one foot off, so either make it end at the foot of the bed (or bench if you have one here) or a few inches short of the dresser.

Dining Rooms

No matter their age, people are messy eaters. A rug under the dining table will get stains from accidental mouth-misses and spills. I typically do not put a rug under a dining table, unless it is in a formal room and the space would feel unfinished without it.

If you want a rug in your dining room, be sure you have to have it large enough to allow you pull out the chairs and not hit the edge of the rug with the chair leg. This is typically around 42″-48″ from the perimeter of your table edge. You also want to be mindful you are not creating a tripping hazard that could be obstructed from you view with a large plate of food. More on that below.


Be sure that you are not leaving any corners in a walk way that could become a tripping hazard. If a rug is by a door, the rug should stop short of the opening or clear it completely. If your rug is in an open area, make sure the traffic flow (aka where people usually walk) is unobstructed.


So there you have it – the how, why’s, and what’s of determining the perfect size rug for your space! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment box below. Or if you want help selecting the perfect rug for your home, drop me a line through the contact page.

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