These Living Room Rug Rules Will Make You A Decorating Genius

Inside: Learn all the living room rug rules you’ll ever need to know and then decide whether you want to keep ’em or break ’em.

I’m beginning to believe in rules less and less these days.

At least in the home. Call me a decorating anarchist.

There are all these rules… How high your pictures should be. How low your pendant lights should be. How to mix patterns in a chic way. How to hang a gallery wall while wearing skinny jeans that don’t allow for any sort of squatting movement, unless you want to bust a seam…

But apparently, I’m also a little hypocritical. Because this article is entirely about rug rules.

So, how in the heck do these two things work together?

Learn The Rug Rules So You Can Break ‘Em


You have to know the rules in order to break them with purpose. So when your one know-it-all friend comes over and snubs her nose at your “floating rug” you’ll know 2 things:

  1. What she means by “floating rug”
  2. The perfect comeback

Which brings us to rug rule #1:

Avoid The Floating Rug

All this means it that you don’t want to have a too small rug just hanging out in the middle of your room all alone. You know, with no sofa or chairs actually on top of it. It can make the room seem disjointed and small, which is generally the opposite of what you want to feel in a room.

Ideally, the rug should be as large as possible.

But guess what? I’ve seen some gorgeous rooms that break this rule. Like this beauty:

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Learn rug placement guidelines and how to break them with this rug rules guide. via van het kastje naar de muur

So How Should The Rug Be Placed?

The best case scenario is a rug large enough for both the front and back legs of the sofa and chairs to be completely on top of. Of course, this will mean you will have to most likely have to spend more money on a rug.

Rug Placement | Rug Rules | How To Place A Rug

via One Kings Lane 

What if you absolutely can’t afford a rug that size? 

Well, the runner-up to an oversized rug is the next largest size that will allow you to put the front legs of all furniture on the rug. Like this:

Rug Rules | Rug Placement | Rug Guidelines | Rug Cheatsheet

via Design Sponge

When you put the front legs of the furniture on the rug it still allows the space to be grounded and defined, but you save money since the rug doesn’t continue all the way to the back legs of the sofa and chairs.

What if I have a small, vintage rug I just can’t part with? 

I totally hear you. Antique and vintage rugs are so on trend right now, and they can cost a pretty penny, so here’s a simple solution to place them in a too-big room:

Layer them on top of another larger rug. 

Genius, right? Generally, the larger rug is a neutral, natural fiber rug like a Jute or Sisal rug, but as long as it doesn’t compete with the smaller rug I think you’ll be fine.

Here’s a pic where they executed this beautifully:

Living Room Rug Rules | Rug Placement | Rug Size Guide

via Camille Styles

What Else Do I Need To Know?

Another rule you want to be sure of is to have the rug hang off the sides of the couch at least 6 inches. I prefer about 12 inches. It’s really up to you; it’s like the difference between having your pants hit exactly at your ankles or letting them barely skim the floor.

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It’s really up to you though. It’s like the difference between having your pants hit exactly at your ankles or letting them barely skim the floor. Everybody has a preference and it goes with your individual style.

Also, don’t forget about leaving some space between the edge of the rug and the walls. You want to let the rug has some “breathing room”. Generally, about 18 inches all around.

Then again, there’s always some rebels out there who create beautiful spaces while breaking the rules. Like this image:

Living Room rug | Rug Guidelines | What size rug should I get

via Coco Kelly

See how close the rug is to the edge of the room? And yet, the room still looks cohesive and well-styled.

The Rug Rules You Need To Know

To summarize, here’s the rug rules you should know before you set out to break them:

  1. Avoid a floating rug if possible; that is, a rug that doesn’t have any furniture placed on top of it
  2. Use the largest rug size that you can afford
    • A rug that allows all of the furniture legs on it is the ideal scenario
    • If you can’t do a rug that big, then make it big enough for the front legs of all furniture to go on it
  3. Keep your antique rug in the room by layering a larger, neutral rug underneath it
  4. Let the rug hang off at least 6 inches on each side of the sofa
  5. Give the rug some breathing room by allowing 18″ between the end of the rug and the edge of the walls

Got all that?

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Now you officially have a degree in rug rules. And guess what that means? You can break the rules as you see fit and tell that one friend you’re rocking the floating rug because you’re a decorating rebel.

Don’t forget to download your living room rug cheat sheet below: 

P.S. Stay tuned next week for my insanely simple tip on determining your dining room rug size.

Rug Placement | Rug Guidelines | Rug Rules

Rug Placement | Rug Guidelines | Rug Rules


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