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What’s Under Foot?

Every home renovation project on television lately has all new wood floors.  With the new wood floors, that new space needs area rugs. At first it might feel wrong to cover up the beautiful new floors you just spent a fortune on, but in the long run, you will want an area rug.  

Area rugs provide an extra layer of insulation for your feet, providing both real and perceived warmth, and absorbing sound.  They can change the feel of the room in an instant. As the “fifth wall”, the floor can showcase your personal style, set the color scheme, and give the room some excitement with a decorative statement.

For rooms with busy interiors, I generally recommend delicately patterned or symmetrically designed

area rugs, with subdued coloring. Such area rug styles compliment a room without overpowering existing artistry. For rooms with fireplaces, where the fireplace is intended as the focal point, repetitive, subtle patterned rugs (as opposed to medallion or other bold styles) are ideally suited. Look for an area rug with colors that blend well with existing paint, furniture, and other design elements.

If the interior is generally subdued without a lot of patterns, a bold area rug can really set the tone.  The right rug is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to provide a tired room with a whole new look. For informal spaces, consider that the symmetry of a center medallion rug makes it more formal and more difficult to use with furniture arrangements that aren’t also symmetrical.  


There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting an area rug, but the number one mistake that home owners make when selecting a rug is the size.  Most home owners start with a rug that is too small. In a retailer’s showroom a 5×8 area rug hanging up on one of those swinging rug racks looks really large.  At home, however, it can feel completely inappropriate. So what size do you need?

The appropriate rug size is based on the furniture configuration and the room size. The correct rug  will fill the space properly and make the rug and the room look their best. Rugs help define the living space.  Ironically, a larger rug can often make a room look bigger.

For a living room, the minimum size rug to consider is a 5×8.  Anything smaller just looks like a postage stamp under the coffee table.   For a small space, the 8’ length can run the length of the sofa, with a little bit of room on either end for a chair.  For most living spaces, however, an 8×10 or larger rug is appropriate. This allows for the front feet of all the furniture in a seating group to sit on the rug.  The larger your conversation area, the larger rug you will need to encompass all of the seating.

In a dining room, select a rug that allows for enough space for all chair legs to stay on the rug when the chairs are pulled away from the table.  This means that the rug will be about 5 to 6 feet larger than your table. For a typical 72” x 40” rectangular dining room table, the rug should be at least 8 x 11.  

For a bedroom, the rug can be placed under just two of the feet so that at least 24” of rug shows on three sides of the bed.  It is nice to have the rug large enough to reach almost all the way up to the nightstand so you can feel the softness under your feet when you get out of bed.  

More than one area rug may be placed in the same room, as long as the colors are coordinated.  Rugs of varied sizes tend to go together best; same-sized rugs tend to divide a room in halves.  Always leave some floor showing around the edge of the room. Area rugs are not meant to go wall to wall.  

When shopping for a rug, measure your space and your furniture arrangement first.  You can avoid the number one reason for returning a rug by following these guidelines.  If you are having trouble finding the right rug, call the SWAT Design Team / Decorating Den Interiors at 636-244-1623.  

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