Six Rug Rules To Help You Choose The Right One

Ok, after many (many many) requests for a primer in rugs, here it is! Rugs can cozy up a space or ground a seating area while drowning out sound and adding pattern and texture. They’re must-haves when it comes to design, and the right rug in the right room can really finish the space and add style to spare. So without further ado, a room by room breakdown with size specifications and general rug rules to live by when picking out the perfect floor covering:

In your dining room, the rug under your table should be big enough for all of the chairs to be pulled out with all chair legs remaining on the rug (this usually calls for an 8×10). Something with a border or a pattern is a great way to add interest and texture to a space that usually has a whole lot of wood (it’s always nice to break that up with a stylish area rug, especially if your floors are also wood).

In your bedroom if you’d like a rug to cozy up your bed (and save your feet from a cold hardwood or tile floor) you should grab something at least 5×8 (maybe 8×10 if you have a queen or a king sized bed) and lay it horizontally under your bed. By laying it sideways you’ll have about two feet of overhang on each side of the bed and you’ll want to pull the rug down to match the overhang on the bottom (so there’s also 2 feet of overhang at the bottom of the bed as well). Picking a material that’s cushy will add to the soothing, restful feeling, and selecting a smaller scale or more subtle pattern (even a solid colored rug) might make the most sense when setting a serene scene.

In the kitchen you’ll want a durable rug. Natural fibers like jute and sisal work well because they can be shaken out and easily vacuumed cleaned while an indoor/outdoor rug is also a fabulous and hardworking idea. You can opt for a small doormat sized rug in front of the sink or a larger rug to cozy up the entire cooking area. We like cheerful stripes or colors in a kitchen, so feel free to have a little fun in this space (especially since 3x5s and 4x6s are super affordable and easy to switch out- you can even do this seasonally if you’d like).

When it comes to your bathroom you can have a little fun. Since rugs are smaller you can splurge on something a little more special, and while there are many lush and plush bathmats out there, we’ve heard time and time again that regular rugs (like a gorgeous oriental carpet) can really stand up to wet feet just as well as a rug intended for the bathroom. Try hitting up a place like Marshalls or TJ Maxx for something ornate that’s not an actual antique. You can also bring in a bold colored rug to spice up a bland white or neutral room to inject a bit of sizzle for next to nothing (it’s a whole lot cheaper than replacing the tile floor!).

In the living room you’ll want your rug to cozy up and ground the seating area so it should be at least as long as your sofa (many of which are around 80 inches, so you’ll want a 5×8 or even an 8×10 if you have a larger seating area). Even if your living room has wall to wall carpet, a nice area rug can add pattern, interest, color, style, and of course define the seating area like nothing else. So we highly recommend bringing in a gorgeous rug no matter the current flooring in your living room to add comfort and maybe even define your color palette for you (find a gorgeous multi-colored rug and pull pillow and curtain colors straight from your new area rug to make the whole space cohesive and inviting). Then remember to keep at least the front legs of your sofa, your loveseat and all the accent chairs on the rug (while the back legs can remain on or off depending on the size of your rug).

Your sunroom or screened-in porch is where you can really bring the outside in. We love a nice jute or seagrass rug to add some texture and a dash of that island vacay feel. And you can either go wall to wall with a natural fiber rug or just settle on another area rug to define the seating area (in our case we have a nice 5×8 from Pier 1 which is wider than the daybed to ground the area and add cozy-factor to our hard cement floors).

And on a personal note, we just scored a cheerful new rug for the living room (at a major discount thanks to the DIY shoot) so here’s a little teaser shot:

Stay tuned for a pic of the whole rug (and the rest of the room). Until then, happy rug hunting!


  1. elizabeth says

    Thank you SOOO MUCH! We are heading to Ikea this weekend to look for rugs, so your post was timely and super-helpful. I’m going home tonight to measure our spaces! Love the new rug can’t wait to see all of the swag you scored during the photo shoot!

  2. Sarah says

    Thanks so much – love it! I have another question maybe ya’ll could address in a post – what about rugs/mats for a small entry. I need something that’s super cute/stylish but at the same time doesn’t show dirt/is easy to clean/absorbs water & dirt. HELP!

  3. Lori says

    Ditto to Sarah’s request for that all-important entry rug. Too many of them look like floor mats for your car!
    Thanks for the primer!

  4. Elizabeth says

    Can you guys recommend some of your go-to sites or stores for rugs? I have a hard time finding quality, modern rugs at my budget!

  5. Jean says

    Hey! That’s the rug that Stacie used in her room redo (different color). I’ve been coveting it big time. Ditto on the comments. I am a rug idiot — same with anything that covers window if it isn’t plantation shutters. I think most of it is just too fussy. Seems that others can pull it off in ways that are pleasing to me, but I have problems just conceiving it. Love your/Nate’s high-set bamboo shades trick though. Thanks for this rug primer. (So, window treatments primer next?) :-) – Jean

  6. says

    This is going to be very useful to a lot of people!

    I agree with a lot of the sizes, of course it also depends on the size of the room… Although the bedroom sizes can get very large. Many people prefer to have a large area rug, perhaps upwards of 9×12 to really cover some floor. Especially in a Master Bedroom.

    It’s also not uncommon for other, smaller area rug sizes to be used in this area, perhaps even runners next to or at the foot of a bed (although some may say this prohibits “flow”)

    This is a great guide! I’d like to add that many people want to have the same exact rug throughout the house, but it’s nice for each room to have it’s own character! Thanks for an awesome post :)

  7. Amy says

    Great post. I disagree, however, with your advice about the rug for the bedroom. It seems so silly to me to have a rug for under just to peek out a couple of feet. Why not either get a large enough rug to cover the majority of the room or have two rugs on either side of the bed?

  8. YoungHouseLove says

    Glad you’re all loving our little rug primer.As for our go-to stores for affordable rugs, we like (the in store rugs aren’t great though) and Walmart actually has some surprisingly good finds. In our own home we have a new one from Pottery Barn (good eye Jean) and one from Pier 1 (the sunroom rug), one from World Market (in our bedroom) and one from JC Penney (used to be our living room rug, now lives in our guest room). Oh and we also have that adorable Company Store rug in our third bedroom. So all those places are definitely worth checking out for value and quality to boot.

    Oh, and Amy makes a good point about a bedroom rug being mostly obscured by the bed (although the layered effect is oh so cozy, and if you can’t afford a huge rug definitely grab at least a 5×8 for a little warmth and texture to ground your sleeping area). But for those of you lucky enough to have a giant room, why not have a giant rug to create a completely plush experience throughout the space? In our case, an 8×10 would almost cover our entire 13 x 12 room (we have a small but sweet little master) but for those of you lucky enough to have a spacious master suite, definitely think about going for something even larger or even toss down a few runners or smaller rugs on either side of the bed and call it good!

    Stay tuned for more decorating tutorials- from curtains to furniture placement and accessorizing, we’ve gotcha covered. Oh and we plan to revisit the rug in the entryway scenario as well, so stay tuned…


  9. stacie says

    sherry!!!! you got the pottery barn moorish tile rug in yellow!!!!!!???
    same as our chocolate one in the bedroom!!! and you got it on the cheap?!?!?!?
    Way to go (although mine was worth every retail, full priced penny!!)

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Mary,

      Our yellow rug is 5′ x 8′, which is a great size for a small seating area with just a sofa and a chair (one with a sofa and a love seat- or a sectional- almost always calls for an 8′ x 10′). Hope it helps!


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