Something’s Underfoot

By April Force Pardoe

An area rug really anchors a room and adds style. When sized and positioned correctly, an area rug can be a great addition to a space. Plus, it’s an easy–and often affordable–update. Why not go big and bold with your rugs to make your rooms feel complete? Here’s what you need to keep in mind when it comes to the proper size and placement of area rugs.

In a living space

In a living space, such as a living room or family room, your area rug should be large enough to contain, at minimum, all of the front legs of pieces in the seating area. You can also position the rug completely under the furniture, filling the room. A good rule of thumb is to leave about 12 to 18 inches between the edge of the rug and the walls.  

In a bedroom

In your bedroom the width of the area rug should extend just beyond the nightstand tables on each side of the bed. This way, your feet will have a soft, warm place to land when you get up. It should also extend a similar distance beyond the foot of the bed, so the bed is somewhat centered on the rug. Most of the rug will be under the bed, so the visible rug will be in a proportionate “U” shape.

In a dining room

In a dining room, your rug should extend approximately 36 inches beyond the table on all four sides so that chairs remain on the rug whether they are pushed in or pulled out. You don’t want your chair legs getting stuck on a rug.

Now that you know what size rugs are optimal and how to position them, you can have a little fun with your area rugs.

  • Use your rug as the color and style guide for the room. Start by selecting a rug you love and build the rest of your room around the colors found in the rug.
  • Layer an area rug over wall-to-wall carpet to add a contrasting visual. Be sure to use a rug mat intended for carpet, rather than one for a hard floor, to ensure the rug lays flat.
  • You can also layer area rugs on top of each other. Often it works well to use a large, neutral rug like a sisal or seagrass and layer a smaller wool or Oriental carpet on top. 

Even though rugs are not as visually prominent as the walls and furnishings in your home, when selected properly and positioned right, area rugs can make a strong personal statement.

April Force Pardoe, AKBD, is an award-winning residential interior designer and owner of April Force Pardoe Interiors. She works with clients who desire stylish interiors but are overwhelmed by the process and too busy to take it on themselves. She presents solutions to her clients’ design challenges and makes sure all of the details are taken care of so they can spend time doing the things they love. Find out more at

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