There are several factors that go into choosing a rug, but selecting the appropriate size is the most important. Here, I offer some room-by-room guidelines so you can quickly and easily find a rug that's the perfect fit for your space.
The Dining Room Rug
Dining rooms typically have hardwood floors, and a rug can improve the acoustics by absorbing the echoes, making dinnertime conversation easier and more pleasant. Hardwood floors are also susceptible to damage from scraping chair feet, so an appropriately sized rug is essential to protecting this surface. The rug should be large enough to accommodate your table and all four legs of every chair, even when the chairs are pushed away from the table. Look for a dining room rug that matches the shape of your table: a square or rectangular rug for a square or rectangular table, or a circular rug for a circular table.
Rule of Thumb: Measure your dining room table and add 36" on all sides, so chairs can be pulled out without catching on the rug.
The Living Room Rug
Living room rugs are a wonderful way to ground different seating arrangements, especially if you have an open floor plan. You can use rugs to designate spaces in your room for conversation, television-watching, games, etc. These rugs don't have to be the same size (although they should coordinate in appearance). The most common problem I see is rugs that are too small. You don't want an area rug that looks like a bath mat.
Rule of Thumb: A rug should be at least partially under two or more items of furniture. An area rug under the coffee table should extend to the front feet of the nearest chair or sofa, but can extend farther.
The Bedroom Rug
A soft, cushy place to land your feet in the morning is a must for a cozy bedroom! If you choose not to use an area rug under the bed, you can still add warmth and texture by placing a rug at the foot. If you go this route, the rug should be wider than the bed by several inches to keep the look balanced. If, like many people, you want that plush feeling under your toes, choose an area rug that extends at least 18" beyond the sides of a king- or queen-sized bed, and at least 12" beyond a full- or twin-sized bed. Your beautiful rug shouldn't be entirely hidden underneath the bed!
Rule of Thumb: The bigger, the better when it comes to your bedroom rug. Your night tables should either be entirely on the rug or entirely off of it; avoid the half-on, half-off look in the bedroom.
The Hallway or Entryway Rug
This rug should cover the majority of your high-traffic areas. There's no hard and fast rule for the amount of space to leave between your rug and the walls or furniture, but I tend to leave at least 6" on either side. You can flank your runner with furniture or opt to have furniture on one side of the hall and the runner on the other. I prefer the symmetry of the former. Either way, your furniture generally stays off the runner.
Rule of Thumb: Choose a durable rug that's wide enough for both feet as you and your guests enter and exit the home. Place rugs in each of your high-traffic areas.
The Outdoor Rug
An outdoor rug can set aside a special space on your deck or patio, and is an unexpected touch that adds a sense of elegance to your outdoor room. Feel free to experiment a bit with this rug; use textures or shapes that you might not be brave enough to use in your interior. Natural textures like jute and sisal stand up well to the elements and don't detract from the surrounding environment.
Rule of Thumb: From the door mat to a large area rug under your patio furniture, there are plenty of design opportunities in this often overlooked space. Have fun with it!
How to Choose an Area Rug
It's difficult to buy an area rug because you won't know exactly how it looks until you get it home. To ensure you're buying the right size, try putting masking tape or painters tape on the floor in the dimensions you're considering. You can even cut a piece of cloth or put blankets down in the shape of the rug you plan to buy. That way, there won't be any surprises when you bring your new rug home!
When I work with my clients in High Point, I meet with them beforehand to gather the essential data, including floor plans and room measurements. Then, I use that information to determine the best rug options for each room. Remember, forewarned is forearmed when it comes to furniture shopping, so measure carefully and you shouldn't have any regrets!