7 Area Rug Rules (& How to Bend Them)


It can sometimes be a challenge deciding what size rug is best for a space. But rather than being bound by “rules,” being aware of the following guidelines may assist you in determining what size rug best provides the visual effect you desire in the different rooms of your home.


Rule 1: Front legs on the rug, back legs off. This approach works in most situations; the rug connects the various furniture pieces together while extending far enough into the room to create a balanced sense of proportion.

Rule 2: Some front legs on. Here only the front legs of the sofa sit on the rug while the placement of the chairs leave all four legs firmly on the rug. This proves to be more effective than if only the front legs of the chairs fit onto the rug, because of the size of the room and the contrasting tone of the rug against the flooring.


Rule 3: All legs on the rug. A room generally looks more pulled together if all the furniture legs are planted firmly on the rug.


Rule 4: No legs on the rug. If you would like to bring in just a small rug, another approach would be to have none of the furniture touching the rug. While this creates a completely different look, and is often “prohibited” by the “rules,” it can work in the right situation.


Rule 5: 8-18 inches of bare floor around the rug. A standard for interior designers, this approach suggests leaving approximately 8-18 inches of bare floor between the rug edge and the perimeter walls of the room. This guideline works well for rooms that are enclosed and separate from surrounding rooms, as opposed to open concept spaces.

Rule 6: Extend the rug 12-18 inches around a bed. For an area rug to look balanced under a bed, it should be large enough to extend beyond the sides of the bed at least 18 inches for a king or queen bed and at least 12 inches for a full or twin bed.
Rule 7: Bend the rules. While all these rules have merit, sometimes they might contradict each other or simply not apply to the unique spaces in your home. But being aware of “the rules” can provide guidelines to help you conceptualize how your room will look in advance.

Be Bold with Bold Area Rugs

Thanks to Houzz

Rugs with a bold color or pattern can be intimidating to design around — but if you fall for a rug with an amazing color or pattern, there are ways to work with it. Here are 10 tips for choosing and decorating around showstopping rugs with ease.

1. Keep the largest pieces of furniture neutral. Choosing a neutral hue (like charcoal, espresso or white) for the biggest pieces of furniture, such as the sofa, gives the eye a place to rest, which is especially important when you have a big, bold, beautiful rug on the ground. Plus, not tying your sofa to your rug color helps keeps your options open should you ever decide to change up the scheme.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-3-58-24-pm2. Repeat a color from the rug in accessories. If you want to ensure that your rug blends beautifully into your space, pull a color from the rug’s pattern and bring in a few small accessories to match. For instance, in the space shown here, the blue of the colorful striped rug has been picked up in the light fixture, while the green is repeated on throw pillows visible in the seating area beyond.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-4-00-08-pm3. Complement an overdyed rug with a rich wall color. The trend for supersaturated, overdyed rugs seems only to be gaining traction. If you choose one of these beauties for your home, you may be tempted to play it safe with white walls — but such a rich hue deserves an equally rich wall color. A deep, warm gray or bitter chocolate hue can help an overdyed rug fit into your room in a gorgeous way.


4. Know what look you’re going for, and choose a rug accordingly. Even if you’ve fallen hard for a rug, take a moment to be honest with yourself about the overall look and feel you want to cultivate in your home before making the purchase. If you usually gravitate toward traditional style but have fallen for a graphic pattern in bright lime green, it could still work — but the rug would take your room in a decidedly more modern direction. If you want to complement the look you already have in your space, choose a rug that falls under the same style umbrella, as has been done with the warm kilim in the traditional dining room shown here.


5. Embrace a playful spirit. A rainbow-hued rug is a wonderful way to infuse your space with a joyful, playful spirit. When you choose a rug with this much going on, keep some of the other main elements of the room neutral to give the eye a place to rest; then you can bring in fun accessories, artwork and flowers that you love, without stressing if it all matches.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-4-01-57-pm6. Treat black-and-white rugs like blue jeans (hint: They go with anything). Sometimes it’s a rug’s pattern, not its color, that makes it bold — but if you’ve chosen a bold black-and-white rug, you’re in luck. Think of black and wite like the blue jeans of rugs, and feel free to mix this combo with just about anything.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-4-02-13-pm7. Play up a bold rug with a clear coffee table. Love your new rug, but hate to have so much of it hidden beneath the furniture? If the rug is in the living room, consider swapping out a bulky wood coffee table for a clear version made from glass or acrylic — this see-through piece will let you enjoy more of your rug’s gorgeous color and pattern.


8. Go monochrome. Feeling overwhelmed by color options? Keep things simple and repeat, repeat, repeat — using the same hue in subtly different shades throughout a space (plus white and another neutral) is an easy way to pull a room together. Just be aware that if your room is very large, a bright color like red may feel a bit too intense for a monochrome scheme. Blues and greens can work in a space of any size.

9. Put it on the stairs. Staircases and other connecting spaces, like hallways, are wonderful places to try out a big, bold, colorful rug. Because we tend to move through them quickly, it takes longer to get “pattern fatigue.” An entryway, a mudroom and a laundry room are also great spots for an eye-catching rug.
10. And if you have pets … choose a richly hued rug in a pattern. A rug with a bold pattern in deep, rich colors is the ideal choice for a pet-loving household, since it will be the most forgiving of spots and stains. Natural-fiber rugs (like wool) are best, because they tend to release stains more readily than some synthetics.
 Looking for a bold rug? Check out our new Carnival Collection designed exclusively for Dover Rug & Home by ASID President Eric Haydel.