Learn How to Place a Rug in a Living Room

Last Updated on November 22, 2022 by Beth Martin

Choosing and placing the correct size area rug in your living room can be tricky.

After all, there are tons of standard sizes, shapes, pile heights, patterns, and colors, and then you must figure out where exactly to place it. All these options can be overwhelming, but I am here to help.

This guide will teach you how to place a rug in a living room like a professional. You will have the tools to select the right rug to make your design look cohesive and cozy.

Find the best way to place a rug in your living room.
Photo via Upsplash

How do you Find the Correct Rug Size?

What is the Size of Your Room?

An area rug is a focal point and frame for your living space. A carefully placed rug will pull your entire room together, making it feel balanced and comfortable, and anchor furniture to make the seating feel cohesive.

Choosing a rug that is a few inches too small or one that over overcrowds your space can make your whole room feel cramped or even underfurnished.

Before you can start, you must measure the overall size of your room. The easiest way to measure a room is with a laser measuring tape – especially if you are trying to do it alone!

The edge of your rug should not come within 12” of your walls, or your layout will look cramped. The ideal distance from the wall is 18”-24″, but do not go closer than 12″.

A rug that is a proper size will define a room and give a cohesive look.

Which Direction is Your Couch Located?

As a rule of thumb, it is best to have the long length of your rug running in the same direction as your couch. By running your two focal points parallel, you will help to make the room feel harmonious.

How To Place a Rug in a Living Room?

All Legs On

All the legs of your furniture will sit comfortably on top of the rug. This layout is a good option for extra-large rooms, very open floor plans where you want to define the space, and larger rugs.

I said this earlier, but this rule is most important in this layout: You must ensure that the rug has room to breathe between the edge and the wall.

Otherwise, your room will look crowded. Ideally, you would leave 18″-24″ between the rug and the wall, but don’t go less than 10″.

For this option, it is important not to place the furniture too close to the edge of the rug, or this layout will look like an accident. You do not want your furniture to look like it is about to fall over the edge.

Keep all furniture about 8 inches or more from the outside edge of the rug. Your room will look more balanced if your furniture is at an equal distance from the outside of the rug on all sides.

How to place a rug in your living room with all furniture legs on the rug.

Only Front Legs On

This option allows your furniture to keep only the front legs on the rug, and the rest will extend past onto the floor. This layout will make your furniture the star and not make your room look overcrowded.

With this layout, you can select a smaller rug size than the previous option, making it a budget helper.

This layout makes almost any seating arrangement look great, whether you opt for two sofas or choose a more sculptural furniture layout. When your couch is against the wall, this is a great option as well.

This is the easiest way to add an area rug to any space when in doubt.

How to place a rug in your living room with only the front legs on the rug.

Only the Coffee Table On

Sometimes you have the perfect vintage rug, or you don’t have the budget for a large rug.

If you need to make a small rug work, place it under the coffee table and center it between your seating. This layout will not frame the room as much as the previous two options but will work in a pinch.

This layout is also an excellent option when you have a smaller space that you don’t want to feel too crowded.

How to place a rug in your living room with only the coffee table on the rug.

Layered Rugs

Layering different rugs on top of each other add an instant chic factor to your living room.

Choose a larger neutral color area rug and place a second bold rug on top. This way, you can go bold but not TOO crazy.

You can also change the smaller rug throughout the year to give your room a new look with minimal effort.

How to place a rug in your living room by layering rugs.

Sculptural Rug

Rugs do not always have to be rectangular! Shaped rugs are fun, adding some drama to your living room and making your space feel unique. Whether you choose a circular rug, an amorphous shape, or a natural hide rug, you can make a fun statement.

Either layer your sculpture rug on top with a more neutral area rug or let it float between your seating on its own.

How to Choose a Rug Size

It is necessary to take all the factors in your room and select the right rug for your space.

I get it – rugs are expensive. You look at the price tag and think you can skip that large rug and get away with the smaller option.

Unfortunately, choosing the incorrect size area rug can cause balance issues for your entire space. Too small of a rug can look ungrounded and unfinished, and too large can make your room feel overcrowded and just plain awkward.

What are Standard Rug Sizes?

Common area rug sizes in a living room are 3’x5’, 5’x7’, 6’x9’, 8’x10’, and 9’x12’. The most common rug sizes that fit most living rooms are 8’x10’ and 9’x12’.

An 8’x10’ will fit well in a room that is 11’x13’ or larger. You can also use this size rug in an open floor plan where you are trying to define a specific living area.

A 9’x12’ rug will work in a space about 12’x18’ or larger.

For smaller living rooms and apartments, a 5’x8’ or 6’x9’ rug will work best.

Is Your Room an Unusual Shape?

If your room is very large or has an unusual shape, it can be even more challenging to figure out your overall layout. Use the above rug layout options to define a specific part of your room. You might even create two or smaller living sections within one larger space.

When placing rugs together in a particular space, make sure they have compatible color schemes to ensure your room will have a cohesive look. Choosing one neutral and bold rug in this example is often a good idea.

Instead of choosing too many prominent colors or patterns, opt for a mixture of textures to add interest.

How to place a sculptural rug in your living room.
Photo via Upsplash

What Type of Rug is Best for Your Room?

What Is Rug Pile?

The pile of a rug is the height of the fibers on the top surface. Often, the longer the pile, the softer the rug, and the harder to clean.

High Pile Rugs

High-pile rugs have long fibers and are best for low-traffic areas. They look the softest and most cozy but are also the hardest to vacuum. For this reason, they are not the best option for a living room but would be better in a reading nook or guest room.

Low Pile Rugs

For high-traffic areas, low-pile rugs are the best option. This is the best choice for your living room, especially if you have children or pets.

Learn how to place a rug in your living room
Photo via Pexels


You can easily master these tips to find the perfect rug for your space. A well-placed rug will make your space feel like home and where you want to spend time with friends and family.

Use these tips to bring your living room to the next level.

Similar Posts