Living Room Area Rug: The (Only) 7 Rules You Need to Know!

Looking for your perfect living room area rug size? You’re in the right place! We’re showing you the smartest living room area rug sizes (as well as living room rug placement!) that’re perfect for your space!

Overwhelmed by all the rug options the world has to offer you?

Honestly…you should be! 🀣

For something so common, people sure have a hard time getting a straight answer on the size question for their living rooms!

And most internet design answers you’ll find are just plain WRONG!

I’m finally speaking up so there’s at least one true, right answer on the internet…my PSA for the day!πŸ˜‰

Light and airy living room with a neutral area rug and a white sofa. Rectangular wooden coffee table in the middle and a large white fireplace on one wall.
We teach you how to lay out your rooms HERE!

And rugs are so expensive–so it’s a big decision!

(I had a client recently pay $7k for a GORGEOUS living room rug I found her…but trust me, we can find you one for less…but only AFTER you know the right size to look for!)

I’m here to make this easy on you, both as professional designer as well as a Layout Analysis Nerd.

There is a perfect answer for that living room you have in mind. (Or maybe it’s your family room, or your “lounge” if you live in New Zealand.) I truly believe there is always an awesome answer for this question of

“What should my living room area rug size be?!?”

Let’s find it today together, shall we? 😊

Speaking of questions, I’ll also answer popular questions below such as

  • “What is a good size rug for a living room?”
  • “How big should a rug be in proportion to a room?”
  • “Is a 5×7 rug big enough for living room?”
  • “Can you teach me how to choose the right rug size?”
  • “How big is a 8×10 rug in a living room?”
  • “Can you create a living room rug size chart for me?”
  • “What about rug size for living room with sectional?”
  • “Can you walk me through your rug size guide?”

LIVING ROOM RUG PLACEMENT

Step #1: How NOT to Start Finding Your Living Room Rug Size!

I may blow your mind a little with this one, but

DO NOT MEASURE YOUR LIVING ROOM FIRST.

Most articles you’ll find when perusing the neverending “info superhighway” (ahem, clutter) of the internet will tell you to start by measuring your room.

I’m not going to focus on that, or even make you do it. Because actually, really…

…your room size doesn’t matter!

(I mean, it matters a little bit, but only as an afterthought and you’ll see why further below!)

Neutral living room with neutral area rug and wooden coffee table. A large piece of art hangs above a white sofa.
rug

Here are the only 7 “rules” you need to select your perfect rug!

LIVING ROOM AREA RUG

Rule #7: The “right” rug size depends 100% on your situation!

I’ll talk about this even more as we go along, but if you’re looking for “the right” or “the perfect” living room area rug size, I’ll help figure it out for you! 😊

Why not start with your room size? Because that’s just ONE piece of the equation and I want you to step back and THINK first:

  • Your situation is unique!
  • Your living room shape is unique!
  • Your living room size (ceiling height, width, depth, number of entry/exit points!) is unique!
  • Your couch, coffee and/or side table(s), and lighting is all unique!
  • Your color needs and preferences are unique!
  • Your material preferences (and whether you’ll be going barefoot on your area rug) is also unique to you!
  • Your lifestyle is unique!
  • Your life goals are unique! (Where do you want to BE? I help you figure out how your home is connected to getting your best self HERE!)

Do you see it? Don’t just look at “size alone” for your living room rug! πŸ™‚

Area rugs cost substantial money (especially the larger they get!)…you want to be sure you’ve selected the right one before you bring it home or order online!

LIVING ROOM AREA RUG SIZE

Rule #6: Know the Rules…While You May Need to Break Them! πŸ˜‰

Living room with a light gray sofra and a woven coffee table with a white area rug with tassels on it.
While I don’t have a hard “no” rule about tassels on rugs, I want you to keep in mind how thick they are, how much they move, and more. NOTHING is more annoying than having a rug whose tassels you constantly have to “reset”…don’t do it to yourself. (source)

There are many living room “Rug Rules” thrown out there, such as

  • “…always have your rug such-and-such inches from the wall…”
  • “…you must ensure your living room rug covers 70% of the floor space…”
  • “…if your couch is on your rug, you need to line up the back of your sofa with the edge of your rug…”
  • “…keep your living room rug this many feet from xyz item…”
  • “…you HAVE to choose whether to have everything on the rug, or just your furniture front legs…”

It’s always interesting to me as a designer to see how other design writers have tried creating rules around this, and I 100% understand. People want a clear-cut answer, and things like “70% of floor space” and “30-36 inches only” seem pretty clear cut! So I get it!

However, I also understand as a designer who specializes in layouts and functionality of spaces that there are MORE IMPORTANT rules that trump the “rug rules” you can find on El Interneto. (I go into that more in my Essential “1st Step” Home Course.)

LIVING ROOM AREA RUG PLACEMENT

Rule #5: Pattern Affects Your “Size”!

Every bit just as important as your living room rug size is the scale of your rug pattern, which affects what size (actually) looks good in your room!

  1. In a small living room, use a smaller-scale pattern!
  2. In a large living room, you can do something with a larger, bolder pattern!

It’s a mistake to not pay attention to the scale of your rug pattern! You don’t want that pattern to overwhelm the space or take your eyes down. (Another reason I like neutral, peaceful rug patterns.)

LIVING ROOM RUG SIZE

Rule #4: Be Careful What Color You Commit To!

I am very, very cautious about investing in a rug.

A good quality rug will be on the pricey side and it’s an investment…

…so you really need to love it!

AND SO, when it comes to selecting not only your pattern (per the above) but your COLOR, you’ll need to ask yourself questions like,

  • “Am I 100% confident in this living room layout right now? (Or might I switch it around one day?)”
  • “How long do we plan on staying in this home?”
  • “Am I a mind-changer? Do I often regret decisions I make later on?”

LIVING ROOM RUG TIP: Go Neutral & Give Yourself Future flexibility!

It will also need to last you years and years to come, and a neutral color will give you that flexibility.

Whether you love color or neutrals, your style will probably change in future years and a neutral high-priced item is the smartest decision you can make! (Save your colorful, trendy choices for lower-priced items! πŸ˜‰)

Below is a perfect example of a client who’s happy to take her time, stay simple, and can change anything (and almost everything!) out in her room when she wants to…while not having to pay to replace that large, beautiful rug under her feet!😍

Large living room with large neutral living room rug and a large sectional sofa. A large wall of windows and a traditional white fireplace are also in the room.
Join our “Insiders” list HERE and you’ll get our Design Mini-guide for FREE!

You must keep in mind that

neutral doesn’t mean boring!

Not by any means! You can still choose a “neutral” rug with gorgeous texture (and I really recommend paying attention to the texture, but we’re focusing on size for this post or else it’ll turn into The Complete Rug Book)!😊

LIVING ROOM RUG SIZE

Rule #3: An 8×10 or 9×12 Area Rug is “Standard,” However…!

Remember when I told you this post is like my PSA against all the incorrect internet articles out there? πŸ™‚

I mean it! I have seen SO many people say things like,

“If you want all the furniture legs on the rug, go for a 9×12 or larger. For just the front legs on the rug, an 8×10 often works well. If it’s just under a coffee table, then 5×8 or 6×9 is cool.”

Garbage!

You CANNOT make such a blanket statement. This rug decision depends on SO MUCH MORE than where you want your furniture legs. It even depends on more than your room size and furniture layout.

A large living room with high ceilings. A large sectional with an area rug below it. A large wall of windows on one wall.
This was a super-awkward living room space with a million entry-and-exit points, but we made it look breezy and natural! We specifically chose this rug size so it left the walkways clear…no one likes to trip over a rug edge! (rug)

We’ll get into this further down and I’ll share some specific examples with you.

LIVING ROOM RUG SIZE

Rule #2: It’s okay (sometimes even advisable!) to layer!

Maybe it’s because I traveled to Morocco when I was young, or maybe it’s because as a teenager I saw a layered rug room by Michael Smith in Elle Decor and never got it out of my mind*, but I LOVE layering rugs!

(*I look back at how as a teenager I wasn’t into the Seventeen magazines all the other girls were…instead, for better or for worse, I was devouring all my design-loving grandmother’s Architectural Digest and every other home magazine she had!😍 My interests were clear.)

It does take a good eye to know what works, though, and I’ll share some of my pointers with you in the examples below.

PS: I actually did this myself as a way to save money in one living room, and I’ll share that story plus one of my favorite “cheap but high-quality rug” hacks in it!

LIVING ROOM RUG SIZE

#1: When In Doubt, Bigger is Better!

#1 is my #1 tip, if I could only tell you ONE thing!

When in doubt, GO BIG!

When it comes to rugs, bigger usually is better!

A neutral living room with white fireplace and white built-ins on each side of the fireplace. A large area rug rests in the middle of the room with a long couch on one side and two chairs on the other. A large rectangular coffee table sits in the middle of the room.
How to maximize your Living Room Layouts!

Don’t listen to the people who say to keep your rug under a certain percentage of your room…if you’re on the fence or in doubt,

pick the larger option!

Because good rugs can be an investment, I totally understand how “choosing smaller” with rugs is a temptation! It’s like, “Well, this one is $xxx cheaper if I get the 8×10, and it still works…so I feel more comfortable with that.”

I’m telling you, if you make this decision intelligently and with all your facts backing it up, you will be able to find the perfect rug for you and be confident buying the perfect size not just for your room or your furniture, but for YOU!

Yes, you personally! You’re the one that really matters in this rug-a-roo scenario!

So let’s get crack-a-lackin’! πŸ’ƒ #dancedancerevolution

RUG SIZE FOR LIVING ROOM

Rug Size Guide

Before we talk exact sizes, let’s look at six different examples of what you can do with your furniture on the rug for our first “rug size guide”:

A rug size guide with different living room rug layout examples.
The Expert Room Layout & Design Guide

The six living room rug layout examples I have above are:

#1: All your furniture on the rug.

#2: Most of your furniture on the rug (main pieces, maybe a few edges of outliers hanging off rug if unavoidable).

#3: Front legs only on the rug (if you have the space)!

#4: Layered option showing a smaller rug on top of a larger one (keep in mind these don’t have to be rectangular, they can be square rugs too)!

#5: I want to help you normalize having either a budget rug solution or temporary placeholder while you’re figuring things out. It’s ok to use something you already have to see how you like the general furniture layout in your room before purchasing a much larger rug for good!

#6: A more abstract or freeform rug on top of a larger area rug can be gorgeous and create extra interest in an otherwise simple space! All eyes will be on that rug!

A rug size guide with examples of living room area rug sizes.
The Expert Room Layout & Design Guide

Again, depending on your

  1. Room Priorities
  2. Existing + new furniture
  3. Space available

…you can then select the perfect rug size!

PS: Let’s be real. Sometimes as a designer I am “forced” to choose a certain size rug because the pattern or material or texture is just PERFECT and hits everything, but it’s all sold out in everything but an 8×10 size (even though a 9×12 was ideal), or we wanted a 5’x8′ to layer yet they only had a random 6’x6′ square in stock…

…you can make it work!

I always believe that! There are SO many factors to choosing the perfect living room rug that the more creative and outside-the-box thinking you can be, the more boxes you can actually check off! πŸ˜‰

More ideas below (dark areas denote the focal point such as a media console or fireplace)…

A rug size guide for living room with furniture layout options.
The Expert Room Layout & Design Guide

…and I can create near endless possible living room layouts! This is only the tip of the Living Room Rug Iceberg, dear reader! πŸ˜‰

AREA RUG SIZE FOR LIVING ROOM

“Is a 5×7 Rug Big Enough for My Living Room?”

I only recommend using a 5×7 rug in your living room if you have a setup like in the above rug size guide…

…OR when it’s layered on a larger base rug!

Living room with a white fireplace and a large piece of art above it. Two small chairs sit in front of the fireplace. A large fiddle fig plant is in the corner. A couch, coffee table and two chairs sit on top of two layered area rugs.
Read “7 Strategies for Choosing Your Perfect Interior Paint Color!”

I love doing this, as you can see in several of my clients as well as my own rooms! One reason is I have expensive taste, and smaller rugs are infinitely less expensive the smaller you go…

…so one trick you can use that I’ve done is the following: I’ve “splurged” on a relatively small rug and layered over one of my large full-room area rugs to still get the look and feel but save myself 4-5x the money!

LIVING ROOM AREA RUG 8X10

This really depends on the size of your room and your furniture, but typically an 8×10 will have enough room to put the front legs of a standard-size sofa and/or any other chairs as well.

  • An 8×10 rug will typically not work for a 3-sided living room setup, because all the front legs cannot fit onto it at once.
  • The Big If: If your furniture isn’t too large, you may be able to fit it all onto an 8×10! But really, it depends and is not usual, if you’re into big, cushy sofas and chairs (plus those coffee and side tables)!
  • It’s possible you can maneuver your rug and furniture around (if you have the room!), and fit it all onto your 8×10 but keep in mind these would need to be small and/or narrow chairs only about 24″ wide each! They exist, and if you have them, boom. You’re literally “in”!πŸ˜† But chances are most of you will need to do something like the layout on the right, which can be lovely in its simplicity and airiness.

These are 1-2 “sided” living rooms, though! Keep that in mind! And your focal point? (Get my help figuring this out EVERY STEP OF THE WAY EXACTLY in our Expert Room Design & Layout Guide for less than a pillow costs.)

Example: Below is a small living room with an 8×10 rug that works because it’s a simple setup with 1-sided seating (the couch). This client has an armchair she moves around the room depending on several factors (sunlight, entertaining, tasks from chair, etc), so it’s not a permanent fixture for her, allowing the 8×10 to work just fine!

A cozy living room with a jute area rug and white couch. A large plaster fireplace sits opposite the couch.
The 10 Simplest Plaster Fireplaces to Ease Your Eyes!

STANDARD LIVING ROOM RUG SIZE

“What’s the Typical Living Room Rug Size?”

Even if you read somewhere that the average living room rug size is 8×12 or 9×12, that doesn’t mean you have to do it too!

You must analyze not only your room priorities but the furniture you have, where your entry points and windows are, etc.

My article on awkward and/or long living room layouts goes into this a bit, so you’ll want to go check out that post too!

A diagram example of a living room layout.
Analyzing flow for living room layouts is essential!

QUIZ: What’s wrong with the rug below?

An example of a living room where the couch is not on the area rug but the armchair is.
A: If you answered, “The sofa legs aren’t on the rug…yet the armchair is…” you are correct! (source)

Whenever possible, you’ll want to avoid having a too-small rug or “missing” putting the front feet on it, at the very least!

An example diagram of what rug sizes and furniture places to avoid in a living room.
The Expert Room Layout & Design Guide

I’m a designer, not a salesperson, so I’ll just say honestly that I CANNOT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH how much I want you guys to utilize my Expert Room Design & Layout Guide! It’s a detailed how to, plus a FUN workbook, plus client examples, and TONS OF MY DETAILED INSIGHTS about every single room (not just living rooms but bedrooms, home offices, entryways, secondary bedrooms, and more).

I poured so much time into creating THIS, just like I’m sitting in 3-5 consultation sessions with you to talk about ALL your rooms (yes, it’s applicable for every room), and I truly love the strategies I share. It’s next level, and I love that I can make it available to you for a fraction of the cost of a consult.

(Because as much as I’d love to consult with ALL OF YOU, there just isn’t enough time in the world and I’ve had to stop taking on new clients because we’re too booked!)

So there’s the scoop. I don’t know of any other designers who take the time to create & offer materials like this to the general public, so I feel good about putting all the time into making something instantly available that people can use to make life EASIER + LOVELIER!

RUG SIZE FOR SECTIONAL

How to Choose Rug Size for Sectional Sofa?

I’ll share 5-6 different living room layouts with a sectional sofa (some with chaises and some without)!

A large two story living room with a large fireplace on one wall and lots of windows. A sectional, coffee table and two chairs sit on a large area.
Join our “Insiders” list HERE and you’ll get our Design Mini-guide for FREE!

People often ask “What about rug size for living room with sectional?”

The perfect rug size for sectional couch situations varies according to the size of the sectional, just like it does for regular couches…

A modern wooden and upholstered couch sit on a neutral area rug in a living room with a round wooden coffee table. An indoor tree sits in the corner.
The Expert Room Layout & Design Guide

…ideally you’ll want the front legs of your furniture to be on the rug, or the back of the furniture lining up with the edge of your rug.

The ideal rug size for sectional with chaise situation is the same. Just like you would for a chair + ottoman, which a chaise is (almost) exactly the same setup as!

The typical area rug size for sectional sofa setups is at least 9×12, if not larger.

Remember, when in doubt, go LARGER in your rug size!

A light and airy living room with a large white couch and square wooden coffee table. A large piece of art hangs on the wall and another wall has a large window on it. A large neutral rug is placed under the furniture.

The above gives another great example of how you can’t “just” choose your rug based on your sofa. You’ll need to consider any coffee tables, poufs, or stools and end tables that you’ll have there too!

Ideally everything will “live” on your rug!

A modern, organic living room with a large white sofa floating in the middle of the room on a large neutral rug. A wooden coffee table is on top of the rug. A large wall of windows is on one wall and another wall has a large piece of art on it.
If you’re sick of the standard coffee tables, you might enjoy this post I wrote after working with a client who “hated coffee tables!” πŸ™‚
Two story light and airy living room with a large indoor tree in the corner. A large white sectional sofa sits on top of a neutral patterned rug with a large wooden coffee table on top.
I love combining more than one coffee table for some clients, but that’s another story! πŸ˜‰

So how to choose rug size for sectional layouts? Don’t ONLY focus on your sectional sofa size–you need to layout the entire room and then decide!

LIVING ROOM RUG IDEAS

Real-life Living Room Rug Ideas (Where You Can Buy!)

Whether your living room is small, massive, or somewhere in-between…

…we’ve created a section for you in our Shop chock-full of rugs we recommend!

A modern, traditional living room with a white sofa and one chair on each side of the sofa. A wooden coffee table sits on top of a neutral patterned rug. A large scale piece of art hangs on the wall with an indoor plant in one corner.

More tips:

1. Sometimes your rug size will also depend on which configuration you’re using and whether you want it to run the length of the room or to shorten the width.

2. Don’t forget there are square rugs too! It doesn’t always have to be rectangular.

3. In general, the larger your room, the larger your rug will end up being naturally, because you’ll have the space to spread out your furniture and you’ll probably have more seating because you can, which will lead to a larger rug being necessary to “hold” all that furniture together and really make it look finished off well.

A large two story living room with a wall of windows. A large neutral area rug that has three sofas, a chair and large wooden coffee table on top of it.

In our Room Design & Layout Guide, I share some real-life client stories of how we laid out rooms, including living rooms!

LIVING ROOM RUG SIZE GUIDE

Still Need More Help With Rugs, Decor or Layout?

If you’re diggin’ some of the living room layouts you’re seeing from us, or wondering if it could work for your space (or how to make something like this work for your space!), you can either

1) book a consult with us or

2) grab our Expert Room Layout Guide (for immediate, delivered-to-your-inbox guidance from us)!

Next…

Even if your living room isn’t exactly what you’d call a “long” living room, you can still pick up some great layout and design tips in this free-for-now post I created on maximizing living room layouts!

  1. 7 Smart Strategies for Choosing Interior Colors!
  2. Our Kitchen Remodel: The Complete List of Organization, Storage, & Design Ideas!
  3. Ottoman Coffee Table: You’ll Be Surprised at the Material We Made It With!
  4. Under-bed Rug Sizes: The Only 7 Rules You Need!
  5. The Expert Room Design & Layout Guide (instantly downloadable today!)

PS: You can see all our home projects HERE!

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