Area Rugs: A How-to

The choice of carpeting versus hardwood flooring will always be a never-ending battle. I love both, and I have both in my home. We installed hardwood flooring throughout the main floor, but chose to put carpeting in the family room - I love the feel of a cozy carpet under my toes. We also chose to install carpeting up the stairs, in the upper hallway, and in the bedrooms. But, when it comes to hardwood flooring, some varieties really need a punch of life, not to mention that cozy feel that it always seems to lack.

So, with countless varieties of area rugs available both in store and online, how do you choose the right rug for your needs? Especially when it comes to size, placement, pattern, and colour.


There are a number of different sizes available for area rugs. The typical smaller sizes are 2’x3’, 3’x5’ and 4’x6’, and the larger sizes are 6’x9’, 8’x10’, 9’x12’ and 12’x15’. When selecting the right size for the room, it's important to measure your space properly. Also consider doorways, vents, and furniture when measuring to ensure that your new area rug won't get in the way of any vents or proper furniture placement. Ideally, you want to make sure that the area rug properly fits your space - you don't want it to look like an island in the middle of your room if it's too small.


Once you've determined the size needed for your new area rug, you'll need to consider the placement. There are a few rules to follow when it comes to this. In a room where the area rug will play a large role such as the living room, the rule of equal spacing comes into play. You'll want to ensure that the area rug is placed equally within the space - with the same amount of hardwood flooring showing on all sides. Typically, the amount of hardwood flooring shown is 8" per side. This rule applies for any shape of rug as well.

If the area rug is to be placed in a sitting area, make sure that the coffee table has all four feet on it. Also, it's important that the rug is large enough for the front two feet of the couch and each chair to sit on the carpet.

When it comes to a dining room, you'll want to ensure that the dining room and all chairlegs sit on the area rug. In order to ensure this, measure the size of the tabletop and add 24". This will allow for ample space around the table for the chairs to remain on the area rug whether they have been pulled in or out. As well, other furniture in the dining room such as a hutch or buffet, should not be place on the area rug.


Choosing the right pattern for your area rug depends on the look you're going for. Do you want the area rug to be the focal point, or more subdued to bring out the patterns in the rest of the room? If you want the area rug to be the focal point, look for a bolder pattern, and try pairing it with solid furniture. You can then use a softer pattern on curtains or throw pillows.

Here are some inspiring patterned rugs...


Aside from pattern, the choice of colour can also make an impact or can enhance the rest of the room. Do you go with a neutral area rug or bring in some colour? Again, you'll have to decide if you want the area rug to be the star of the room or the backup singer.

Here are some great coloured area rugs...

Have any of you recently bought an area rug? If so, did you buy something neutral or colourful in a bold pattern?


  1. My parents have an area rug in the family room but there is no coffee table or anything else on it, so it keeps shifting whenever someone enters or exits the room. Quite unappealing when the area rug is askew all the time!


  2. Hi Gen,

    I would say to suggest to your parents to get a rug pad. It's basically a thin frictionless pad that sits between the floor and the rug. It prevents the rug from shifting (which can also be a safety hazard).


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