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How to Place an Area Rug in a Living Room: The Ultimate Guide

There are a lot of things to think about when learning how to place an area rug in a living room. Rugs can add color, style, and comfort to a room, but if they’re not placed correctly, they can actually have the opposite effect.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to place an area rug in a living room. We’ll also provide tips on how to choose the right rug for your space and how to measure your furniture so that you can get the perfect fit.

Let’s jump right in.

Step 1. Determine how you want the furniture to be arranged

You might have a specific layout in mind, or you may be working with existing furniture placement. Whatever the case, be sure to carefully examine how your furniture fits into your room. It will save you tons of headaches down the road when determining how much room you have for your rug and if you need to implement certain design techniques such as “all legs on” or “half on half off” (more on that later).

Step 2. Time to measure your room

Measure the length and width of the seating area and make a note of any special features like fireplaces or built-ins. This will help you decide what size rug you need. Keep reading to learn more about the different sizes of rugs.

Step 3. Choose the right material for your needs

If you have a high-traffic area, you’ll want something that can withstand some wear and tear. If you have pets, you might want to avoid materials like wool or silk. Read our other article about the best and worst couch materials for pet owners to learn more about this topic.

Step 4. Choose your favorite design

There are plenty of beautiful rugs out there, so take your time and find one that you love. Once you have the size and material figured out, it’s time to choose a design. And once you have the perfect rug, it’s time to place it in your living room!

Step 5. Center your rug

There are a few different ways to do this, but the most common is to center the rug in front of the main seating area. You’ll want to leave about 18 inches of space around the perimeter of the rug so people can walk on it comfortably. 

Another option is to place the rug so that it covers two-thirds of the room. This can create a cozy feeling in a large space.

The most important thing to remember when placing an area rug in a living room is to have fun with it. There are no hard and fast rules, so experiment until you find the perfect spot. And if you’re still not sure, ask a friend or family member for their opinion.

Aside from just placing an area rug in a living room, there are many other factors that you will need to consider if you’re serious about getting it right:

Rug size matters

The size of the room, the furniture in the room, and the overall design of the room will all have an effect on what size rug you should purchase. It’s just that simple.

Take my 3 bedroom 1300-square-foot apartment for example. The rooms aren’t exactly as big as the rooms you would find in, let’s say, a 2,500-square-foot house for example. And 2 of the bedrooms are exactly the same.

My living room is spacious enough for a 9×12 rug, which is what my wife and I have. But with all the furniture we have in place, we definitely could not have a larger size rug. It just wouldn’t look right.

Area rugs can vary in size, but the most typical sizes are as follows:

  • Small: These rugs are typically around 4×6′. They are perfect for small rooms or for placing in front of a fireplace.
  • Medium: These rugs are typically around 6×9′. They are great for medium-sized rooms or for placing under a coffee table.
  • Large: These rugs are typically around 9×12′. They are perfect for large rooms or for placing in front of a sofa.
  • Extra Large: These rugs are typically around 12×18′. They are best placed in larger rooms such as a dining room or living room.

Consider the size of the room

When it comes to choosing an area rug, the first thing you need to think about is the size of the room. A general rule of thumb is that the rug should be at least six inches away from the walls.

People with larger living rooms may want to consider an 8×10′ rug or even a 9×12′ rug. But for those with a small living room, a 5×7′ rug or even a 4×6′ rug would be better suited.

Consider the shape of the room

Round rugs are great for filling up space in smaller rooms

You’ll also want to think about the shape of your room when choosing an area rug. If you have a rectangular room, you might want to choose a rectangular rug. If you have an irregular-shaped room, however, you might want to consider a small rug or a round rug for this space.

Mark your rug spot using measuring tape

If you have a lot of furniture in your living room, it’s best to measure the dimensions of each piece and make a sketch of where you would like the area rug to go. This will help you determine how much of the floor you would like to cover with the rug.

You’ll also want to leave enough space around the edges of the rug so that people can walk around it easily. The worst thing you can do is put a rug in the middle of a room and have all of your furniture pushed up against it!

Finally, when measuring for an area rug, be sure to account for the space around the perimeter of the entire room so that the rug is not too small or too large for the space.

Let’s talk about rug placement

Once you’ve considered the size and shape of the room, measured your furniture, and adequately marked where you want your area rug to go, it’s time to think about placement.

All legs on method

Laying down all the legs of your coffee table, sofa, or chairs on top of an area rug is a great way to create a sense of cohesion in your living room. Not only will it make the space feel more pulled together, but it can also help protect your floors from scratches. Plus, it’ll add a touch of luxury—especially if you choose a plush material like wool or velvet.

Half-on, half-off method

If you have a large living room, you might not want to commit to putting all your furniture on top of the rug. In that case, you can try the half-on, half-off approach. Simply place the front legs of your sofa and chairs on the rug and leave the back legs off. This will create a layered look that’s both stylish and functional.

Only the front legs

Another option is to only place the front legs of your furniture on the rug. This is a good choice if you have a smaller living room or if you want to create a more casual feel. It’s also a great way to show off a beautiful rug without making the space feel too busy.

Common mistakes to avoid and how to fix them

The most common mistake people make is placing the rug in the wrong spot

Here are some tips to help you get it right:

  • Center the rug in the room: This is the most common way to place a rug in a living room. It’s also the easiest way to create a sense of balance and harmony in the space. Simply center the rug in the room, making sure there is an equal amount of space around all sides.
  • Create a focal point: If you have a fireplace or a piece of art that you want to highlight, place the rug so that it frames that feature. You’ll want to leave about 12-18 inches of bare floor around the edges of the rug.
  • Anchor the furniture: If you have a large piece of furniture that you want to anchor, such as a couch or a buffet, place the rug so that two-thirds of it is under the piece of furniture. This will help create a sense of stability in the space.
  • Define the conversation area: If you have a conversation area in your living room, such as a coffee table and chairs, place the rug so that it defines that space. You’ll want to leave about 18-24 inches of bare floor around the edges of the rug.
  • Complement the style of the room: Choose a rug that complements the overall style of the room. If you have a modern space, for example, you might want to choose a rug with clean lines and a simple pattern. If you have a more traditional space, however, you might want to choose an ornate rug with intricate details.

Placing the rug in front of the door

This is a mistake because people will walk on the rug and track dirt and debris onto it. It’s also a safety hazard because people can trip over the edges of the rug. A better area to place your area rug (see what I did there?) is to simply place it in the middle of your living room as described in this article.

Putting the rug in a high-traffic area

This is a mistake because the rug will get worn down quickly. Choose a spot that gets less foot traffic, such as in front of the couch or under the coffee table.

Not securing the rug

This is a mistake because people can trip over loose corners or edges. Be sure to use rug pads or double-sided tape to keep the rug in place.

Let’s wrap this up and roll out that rug

Placing an area rug isn’t rocket science. Just remember these key takeaways:

  • Determine how you want your furniture to be arranged
  • Measure your room
  • Choose the right material
  • Choose your favorite design
  • Center your rug
  • And get to placing!

If you’re still feeling unsure about how to correctly place a rug in your living room and other areas of your home, the best thing to do is to experiment with different placement options until you find something that looks and feels right for your space.

And of course, don’t forget to have fun with it! After all, this is your living room, and it should reflect your personal style.

Written by Taylor Barefoot
Written by Taylor Barefoot

Taylor is the founder and sole chief editor of Snug Sensations. When he's not piecing together articles or managing this site, you can find him exploring the Appalachian trails with his wife and dog Booe (pronounced boo), playing the guitar, or cooking vegan meals.