Monday, September 12, 2011

11 Area Rug Rules and How to Break Them

{A reader just sent me an email about this Ideabook I recently wrote for Houzz and how it helped her client decide she did indeed need a BIGGER rug for her dining room. I love that, so I thought I'd repost it here! Janell}

I often get asked "What are the rules in selecting the size of rug to use in a room?" It can prove to be hard deciding what size rug is best for a space as there are so many "rules" and just as many opposing opinions.
One popular rule is that the rug should be large enough to slide under the front legs of sofas and chairs in a seating arrangement, unifying the furniture. But just as frequently I've heard it suggested that all legs of the furniture should sit on the rug! So, rather than being bound by rules, being aware of these guidelines and options will assist you in determining what size rug provides the visual effect you desire in the rooms of your house!
traditional family room by Valerie DeRoy Interiors, LLC
Rule 1: Front legs on the rug, back legs off. Here is a gorgeous room where the front legs sit on the rug while others are off. This approach really does work in most situations; the rug connects the various furniture pieces together while extending far enough into the room to create a sense of good proportion.
by Valerie DeRoy Interiors, LLC  
contemporary living room by Chelsea Atelier Architect, PC
Another example of following this rule, seen from above, shows its effect very well. It works well here in large part because the tone of the rug is very similar to the wood flooring, making the break between the two visually subtle.
by Chelsea Atelier Architect, PC
contemporary living room by Garrison Hullinger Interior Design Inc.
Rule 2: Some front legs on. Before moving onto examples where all the legs are placed on the rug, let's look at a hybrid of the two approaches. Here only the front legs of the sofa sit on the rug while the placement of the chairs leave all four legs firmly on the rug. This proves to be more effective here than if only the front legs of the chairs fit onto the rug, because of the size of the room and the contrasting tone of the rug against the flooring.
by Garrison Hullinger Interior Design Inc.
modern living room by Rachel Reider Interiors
Rule 3: All legs on the rug. One tip is to determine the furniture placement prior to selecting what size rug to use, which leads to the next rule: A room generally looks more pulled together if all the furniture legs are planted firmly on the rug.
by Rachel Reider Interiors  
living room by Vanessa De Vargas
Here is a beautiful example of a large graphic rug defining a space and shows the effectiveness of having all the furniture legs placed on the rug.
by Vanessa De Vargas  
contemporary living room by
Rule 4: No legs on the rug. Now if you would like to bring in just a small rug, perhaps one that introduces a pop of pattern into the room, another approach would be to have none of the furniture touching the rug. While this creates a completely different look, it also works!
Rule 5: 18 inches of bare floor around the rug. The next rule has been a standard for ages, and this approach states that there should be approximately 18 inches of bare floor between the rug edge and the perimeter walls of the room, bringing in traditional proportion. This guideline is great in rooms that are enclosed and separate from surrounding rooms, as opposed to open concept spaces.
traditional closet by Abbott Moon
Using this rule in a small room is more successful if the 18 inches of bare floor exposed around the rug is reduced to approximately eight inches.
by Abbott Moon  
contemporary home office by Ventana Construction LLC
Rule 6: Just a few inches of floor around the rug. Here is a successful application of the rule to run the rug up to within inches of the wall around the entire room. While a traditional approach, it feels modern here due to the decor decisions.
by Ventana Construction LLC  
modern bedroom by Amy Lau Design
Here is another wonderful example of this approach and how the rug defines the room design.
by Amy Lau Design  
modern bedroom by Amy Lau Design
Rule 7: Extend the rug 12-18 inches around a bed. For an area rug to look balanced under a bed, it should be large enough to extend beyond the sides of the bed at least 18 inches for a king or queen bed and at least 12 inches for a full or twin bed. Depending upon the size of the room there can be more rug extension around the bed, but not less, which would make the rug look insignificant being covered mostly by the bed.
by Amy Lau Design
traditional bedroom by Bosworth Hoedemaker
However, a smaller rug can also be very effective placed at the foot of a bed, bringing in just a little layer of interest and pattern. Here the rug width should extend beyond the width of the bed to feel balanced.
by Bosworth Hoedemaker
traditional dining room by Frederick + Frederick Architects
Rule 8: Extend the rug 24 inches around a table. It is much easier to maneuver dining chairs if there is at least 24 inches of rug extending from the edge of the table on all sides. This rule allows the back legs of the chairs to be on the rug, even when being used. This can be a hard design goal to achieve due to the typical proportion of tables to area rugs.
by Frederick + Frederick Architects
traditional hall by Gast Architects
Rule 9: Cover the walking area. The rug should cover the majority of the walking area in a hallway or entry. For both safety and comfort, it is preferable to have both feet fall within the surface of the rug in a high traffic area.
by Gast Architects
modern hall by Hanrahan Meyers Architects
This hall is a beautiful example of the previous guideline.
by Hanrahan Meyers Architects
modern living room by Tara Seawright
Rule 10: Combine rugs. In making rug decisions for a room, another approach would be to bring in multiple area rugs. This can be very effective when the room is large with more than one seating arrangement.
by Tara Seawright
eclectic living room by Riehl Designs, Inc.
Rule 11: Bend the rules. While all these rules have merit, apparently this room believes the rule of all legs on or off is meant to broken, and doesn't it look great!
by Riehl Designs, Inc.
living room by Elizabeth Dinkel
To sum up this topic, there are multiple rules to guide the decision of what size rug is best for the rooms of a home and many of them completely contradict one another! But being aware of the various rules can provide guidelines to help determine which approach is most appealing to you and will be effective in achieving the look you desire in your individual spaces.


Stacy Curran said...

Saw this on Houzz and think I sent you an email (?) I think this is one of the most useful Houzz posts I have seen. It actually gives information rather than just commenting on photos, and it's long enough to really contain some tips. Great ob!

Janell @ Isabella and Max said...

Yes Stacy, it was your email that gave me the thought to repost the Ideabook here. A neighbor just thanked me as well, the post helped her make a decision about a rug for her master bedroom! Janell

Cat Ray said...

This is very helpful! I love the modern rugs in the pictures above.

Jeo Fazzio said...

Lovely and designer modern area rugs, Cool share..

Allison SMITH said...

Beautiful blog. I like app the options and suggestion that you have shared here. It is really a big help. Thank you for sharing this blog.
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