Area Rugs: Tips for Selection and Placement

Home Stager with Designed to Appeal, LLC

Area rug When I am staging a home for sale, area rugs serve many functions in a room:

  • Defining the area, for example, a seating or dining area in a large room
  • Adding pops of color to an otherwise neutral room
  • Toning down a room that has strong and bright colored furniture
  • Adding texture to a neutral colored space

When I am doing an interior redesign, in addition to the above, area rugs also:

  • Provide comfort underfoot
  • Provide physical warmth underfoot
  • Absorb the sound in a room

Area rugs come in these common sizes:

  • 5' x 8'
  • 6' x 9'
  • 8' x 10', 8' x 11'
  • 9' x 12'
  • 12' x 15'

Here are some tips when buying an area rug:

  • If you anticipate lots of traffic and wear and tear, select a patterned rug which will show stains less than a solid rug.
  • Also, a wool rug is easier to clean than a non-wool rug.
  • The shape of the rug should mirror the furniture or the room size. For example, a rectangular dining table should have a rectangular rug underneath. But a round dining table should have a round rug under it.

Round rug

  • In a very large room, you can have multiple area rugs, but make sure they complement and coordinate with each other. They don't have to be identical, and ideally, we wouldn't want them to be.
  • The area rug should take up 2/3 to 3/4 of the floor space of an area with no furniture on the rug, for example, the foyer pictured below. Otherwise the rug will look lost. However, a small rug right in front of the entry door would be acceptable.

Foyer Rug

  • Don't cover the entire floor with an area rug - leave 9 to 12 inches of the floor around the edges of the rug exposed.
  • While some designers feel that area rugs on a carpet are a no-no, others say it's okay to do so.
  • I prefer to start with the color of the sofa before choosing a rug to complement it. Others start with the rug first, and then choose the sofa.
  • Don't use busy rugs with large patterns with a sofa or bedding that has large patterns.
  • Use non-skid pads when needed to prevent slips and accidents. The pad should be a few inches smaller than the rug.

  • There's always been a debate about furniture on and off the rug, but here is some guidance:
    • At least the front legs of the furniture should be on the rug
    • All of the furniture's legs should be on the rug, ideally, if the rug is large enough.
  • Avoid placing the rug so that the traffic pattern would have people walking with one foot on the rug and the other foot on the bare floor. And avoid placing the corner of a rug in front of a door as people may trip.
  • In a dining room, make sure that the rug is large enough that, when a person is backing out of their chair, the back legs of the chair are still on the rug. You can use 24 inches from the edge of the table to the edge of the rug as a guide.

Dining Room Rug

  • Be aware that in rooms with direct sunlight and hardwood floors, the area rug will create an outline when the floor color changes as a result of the sunlight. Also, sunlight can fade a rug, particularly oriental rugs.
  • Also be aware of electrical outlets and vents in floors as well as the placement of rugs near doors which may not clear the rug.
  • In a bedroom, at least two sides of the bed should have the same amount of rug showing.

Bedroom with area rug

If you have any other tips about the purchase, placement or care of area rugs, please share them.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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About the Author: Donna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons. Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has. Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

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Re-Blogged 6 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Sharon Alters 08/28/2011 02:39 PM
  2. Barbara Martino-Sliva, Top Producer 08/28/2011 02:49 PM
  3. Yvonne Burdette-Van Camp 08/29/2011 06:35 PM
  4. Lenn Harley 08/30/2011 12:15 AM
  5. Debbie Gartner 09/01/2011 04:57 AM
  6. Jim Frimmer 09/18/2011 03:03 PM
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Win Home Inspection
National Home Office - Madison, AL

Donna thank you for the tips. I just read an article today from RISMedia on using furniture rentals to sell properties faster, as it is the easiest and most cost-effective way to stage a home. Would you recommend this option as well for rugs?

Aug 29, 2011 11:42 AM #12
Donna Dazzo
Designed to Appeal, LLC - Manhattan, NY
Home Stager in the Hamptons & New York

Thank you all for stopping by.  WIN home inspection, yes I always include rugs when renting furniture for a property for sale.  Generally it's more cost effective to rent than to buy furniture when staging a property for sale, especially if you anticipate using the furniture for only 3 to 6 months.

Aug 29, 2011 01:35 PM #13
Pat Fenn
Marketing Specialist for CJ Realty Group/Cindy Jones Broker - Springfield, VA

Good information.  Area rugs can give you a quick way to change the look of a room without spending a fortune.

Aug 29, 2011 02:14 PM #14
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Donna - A wool rug is definitely the way to go. I have a few on my hardwoods and just use a Hoover steam cleaner with a powerful extractor on them and they come out great! What do you think about positioning an area rug on an angle instead of parallel with the sides of the room?

Aug 29, 2011 02:43 PM #15
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


So much great information about rugs.  Thank you, I did realized there were so many rules.

Aug 29, 2011 04:30 PM #16
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411


I'm with Evelyn above me.  This is a lot of good information about area rugs that I never thought much about.  Thanks and thanks for the pictures, too.

Aug 29, 2011 04:52 PM #17
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

These are great tips. Now I know how to advise clients when using area rugs.

Aug 29, 2011 04:58 PM #18
Kathleen Vetrano
RE/MAX Gateway - Falls Church, VA
Helping YOU Achieve YOUR Dreams

Donna,  You know when something looks right and something looks off.  You provide some very good reasons why this occurs.  Thank you.

Aug 29, 2011 04:59 PM #19
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

This is definitely some good information. Well done, well thought out. Nice job!         

Aug 29, 2011 06:19 PM #20
James Muhammad
RE/MAX Champions - Upland, CA
RE/MAX Champions

This is great information! I'm getting ready to change around all the rugs in my house now. I'm going to also tell my sellers to read this so they can do the same.

Aug 29, 2011 06:29 PM #21
Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

It is amazing how changing out a rug totally changes the look of the room and for a cheap price too!

Aug 29, 2011 06:44 PM #22
Anne M. Costello
Weidel Realtors - Yardley, PA

Donna: Great post about area rugs and how they can change and improve a room. Accenting hardwood floors, enhancing furniture and color choices makes a home more liveable and saleable! I plan to reblog, there is so much great information here.

Aug 30, 2011 12:27 AM #23
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Donna,

Congratulations on the featured certainly is well deserved!! Great post and well illustrated..I'm book marking it..excellent advice!

Aug 30, 2011 12:52 AM #24
Donna Dazzo
Designed to Appeal, LLC - Manhattan, NY
Home Stager in the Hamptons & New York

Wow, thank you all for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and comments. Wasn't expecting this to be a featured post.

Barbara, I am glad you brought up angling rugs, as I forgot to mention these in my post. I sometimes do it, but frankly it's hard to give a rule about it. Either I know the room calls for it or it does not. Either I know the angle looks good or it does not. It's difficult to teach someone this.

I used angled rugs in these two staged rooms, pictured below. The one thing they had in common was the room was small and in the case of the office, there was a lot of floor space, so maybe that's the beginning of a "rule".


Angled rug - office

Aug 30, 2011 02:20 AM #25
Julia Maher
Nestings: Connecticut Home Staging and Model Homes - Fairfield, CT
Connecticut Home Stager

Thanks for emphasizing how large a rug should be under the dining table.  We usually see rugs that are much too small!

Aug 30, 2011 05:24 AM #26
Linda Thompson
Selling By Design-Staging - Fresno, CA

Good info as always, Donna. Thanks for the post.

Aug 30, 2011 05:47 PM #27
Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA

Ver nice post and such good info-thank you!

Aug 31, 2011 05:55 AM #28
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Thanks for these tips-lots of people skimp on rugs-they don't understand that the proportion is critical to the success of the space and although you want wood margins around the rug, a larger rug always gives the room a more pulled together look.

Sep 04, 2011 03:54 AM #29
Joshua Zargari
MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating - Lynbrook, NY
MJ Decorators Workshop

Great information.

Mar 30, 2012 08:22 AM #30
Sydney Rug Cleaner
Oriental Rug Care - Arctic Bay, YN
The Leading Sydney Rug Cleaner

I love the analytical style. Great work.

Sep 08, 2015 04:51 PM #31
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