room with area rug

Area rugs are a wonderful addition to almost any home, especially those with wood or tile floors.

Area rugs dampen noise, are softer and more comfortable on the feet than cold tile or wood, provide an added layer of insulation, and help to improve a room’s décor by amplifying or complementing its color and design schemes.

As with anything else, though, area rugs can be used well or poorly. Getting the wrong size or color for your room can end up creating an effect other than the one you hoped for—no small matter considering how expensive area rugs are. In addition, improper placement of area rugs can lead to their getting worn out before their time.

If you’re curious about area rugs for your home, take a look at these tips to help you make an informed decision for your needs and those of your home. You’ll be glad you did!

stacked area rugs

How to Arrange an Area Rug

The first step to arranging an area rug is to choose one that’s the proper size.

Generally, interior decorators and other experts recommend getting a rug that leaves 18 or so inches of exposed floor space between its edge and the walls. But don’t be afraid to bend or break this rule outright depending on the layout of the room, your design style, or other variables.

Arranging Area Rugs for the Living Room

Living rooms are all sized and shaped differently but generally the layout of the room in relation to its area rug can be thought of in three ways:

  • Rug in the Center of the Room, Furniture Surrounding: With this arrangement, the rug is almost entirely a design accessory and doesn’t provide many other practical benefits. This is a good choice if you like the look or feel of the natural floor, or just want to accent a room’s décor.
  • Rug in the Center of the Room, Furniture Partly Overlapping : With this arrangement, much of the room is left uncovered by the rug, although it does represent a good compromise between the other two options.
  • Rug Covers most of Room, Furniture is Completely On Top: This arrangement is a sort of alternative to wall-to-wall carpeting. Some floor is left exposed, but the bulk of it is covered. You’ll also get the most out of area rug benefits like noise reduction and insulation.

The best choice for your home will depend on you preferences and the type of floor you’re working with.

Arranging Area Rugs for the Dining Room

In the dining room, generally area rugs should be arranged such that the dining room table and all its chairs can comfortably fit on top, even when pulled out.

Note that square rugs should be used for square tables, and round rugs for round tables.

dining room with area rug

Other Area Rug Tips

Use Area Rugs in Hallways and Entryways to Cover Walking Areas

Placing area rugs in hallways and entryways can be a great way to liven up otherwise drab parts of the home and to trap dirt and dust that would otherwise be tracked through the whole house.

If you choose to use long area rugs or runners in halls or entry ways, make sure they cover most or all of the walking area. Uneven flooring can cause trips and falls!

Choose the Rug First and Build the Room around It

“Often, rugs are the more limiting piece when it comes to pattern, color and what fits into your budget, so you may want to start with the rug design and move on to the fabrics and paint from there,” says designer Amy Bubier. Makes sense: It’s easier to move furniture around on top of a rug than switch out a rug from underneath all the furniture!

Don’t Be Afraid to Use More than One Rug in a Room

Some rooms may be very large with more than one seating area. Don’t be afraid to use a different rug for each one, either with identical or complementary patterns. This can be a great way to make a large room seem like several distinct ones, maximizing floor space in a very creative way.

Rotate Your Area Rugs Once Per Year

Rugs get worn out over time as people walk on them, clean them, and furniture sits on top of them. About once per year, turn the rug 90 degrees. This will ensure even wear and prolong your rug’s lifespan.

Professional Cleaning is Worth Every Penny

Professional area rug cleaning is another amazing way to prolong your rug’s lifespan. Not only does dirt, dust, and other debris wear out rugs prematurely, but without proper cleaning allergens like pet dander and pollen can get stuck and reduce indoor air quality.

Regular vacuuming is important, but it’s not enough to get the deep clean needed for even the average home from time to time.


Area rugs are a worthy investment for homeowners, renters, and anyone else who wants to make the most of their space. While there are plenty of best practices and rules of thumb on the subject, ultimately it’s your personal space and style that should determine what kind of rug you decide on and how you arrange it in your home. Happy decorating!