The dos and don’ts of rug placement – designers reveal the golden rules to live by

These tips will make you think twice about rug placement in your living room and/or bedroom

Place all your furniture on the rug if space allows
(Image credit: Kris Tamburello)

Getting rug placement right is just as important as choosing a rug you like. The right size, and layout, can instantly change the look and feel of your whole space. 

In the bedroom, it can up the coziness of your sleep space entirely, while as a living room idea, rug placement can define a focal point. Plus, depending on what rug you choose and where you decide to place it, an addition of one can help to zone your space – be it your garden, hallway or open plan living area.

But get your rug placement wrong and it can completely throw the whole vibe of your room. 

To help figure out the dos and don'ts of rug placement, we asked interior designers for their thoughts. 

Rug placement tips for interior designers and experts

When it comes to the placement of your rug, according to Heather Goerzen, design editor at interior service Havenly, there's a lot to think about.

'I want to ensure the rug properly anchors a scene and pulls all of the pieces together to tell a story,' explains Heather. 'For living rooms, I love the “all legs on” look with an oversized statement rug. For bedrooms, I’m partial to beginning the rug just in front of the nightstands – particularly if you have beautiful wood flooring to show off.'

DO: Go as big as sensible for the room 

Think about the scale of the rug in your bedroom

(Image credit: Mr Alex Tate Design)

In the world of interior design, size matters You wouldn’t pick a sofa too big for your living room, or a bed slightly too small for your bedroom. So when it comes to your bedroom and living room rug ideas, think along the same lines. 

'My general rule is to never skimp on size, but don't overdo it,' says Alex Alonso, founder and design principal at Miami-based interior studio Mr Alex Tate says.

'You don't want a rug that's too big for the room, but you don't want a rug that looks like a shrunken placement for your furniture. It's a balance. You want to find the size that defines the space but doesn't dwarf it.'

DON'T: Make it look cramped 

Leave breathing space when it comes to placing your rug in your living room

(Image credit: Havenly)

However, while the scale is important, a rug is there to anchor your room. Not swamp the floor space or take over your room. 

'While you want to ensure your isn’t too small, you also don’t want it to be too big,' says Heather Goerzen, design editor at interior service Havenly. 'Leave flooring “breathing room” so to speak with at least 18” between the rug and the wall, and typically 24” for larger living rooms.'

DO: Experiment with layering rugs 

Double up the rugs in your living room

(Image credit: Mr Alex Tate Design)

Sometimes, one rug just isn’t enough. If space allows, and you’ve found two differing floor coverings which complement each other, why not double layer your rugs? 

Helping to add coziness, comfort and creativity into your space, doubling up your rugs in a modern living room or bedroom can work wonders. 

'I love layering rugs and typically do a more neutral one as the base that is larger and then a more colorful, design-forward one on top,' says Alex. 'It’s always so chic and just gives you depth to the design of the room'

DO: Consider rugs on the wall instead

Small modern living room with built in bookcase and rug hanging on the wall

(Image credit: Studio Peake)

Thought there was only one way to lay a rug? It's time to think again. You can absolutely get creative with the placement of your rug and there's picture evidence to prove it. Along with placing rugs on the floor, they can also be hung from the wall. 

“Beyond the floor, I do love using rugs as a wall-hanging,” Alex says. “Some are just so beautiful I'd never dream of stepping on it.”

If you're considering hanging an antique rug you could try placing them into a glass frame to help preserve them. While Persian rugs look super eyecatching just on their own, on a painted wall or hung on an exposed brick setting.  

DO: Keep furniture contained 

Place all your furniture on the rug if space allows

(Image credit: Kris Tamburello)

One of the easiest design tricks to keep in mind when it comes to rug placement, is to sit all furniture within a rug's perimeter. As seen in the latest modern living room trends, it can help zone your space and balance it, without taking up too much floor room. 

Two fans of this look are Miami-based interior designers, Jay Britto and David Charette of Britto Charette. They said: "We installed a custom-made wool and silk rug in our Portofino Tower product in South Beach. The large-format rug is placed so that all of the furniture sits within its parameters which in an open floor plan creates a sense of homeyness and delineates it as a seating area.”

DON'T: Have fewer than two furniture legs on the rug

Remember the front two feet rule when it comes to your rug placement

(Image credit: Havenly)

'Always, always, always, always ensure at least the front two feet of every piece of furniture in the vignette (i.e sofa, accent chairs, side tables) can sit comfortably on the rug,' says Heather Goerzen. 

'And of course, you’re welcome to size up so that the entire sitting area rests on the rug. The majority of living room rugs should be 8’x10’ or perhaps 9’x12’, but for those fortunate enough to have a massive living room, you might be looking at a 10’x14’.'

DO: Make it symmetrical 

Keep your rug symmetrical in your bedroom

(Image credit: Alexia Fodere)

If in doubt, a sure-fire way to make your rug placement perfect every time is to create a symmetrical living space. 

'In this design in the Hamptons, we used a really plus rug in a gorgeous blue that was generously sized and spanned the length of the headboard,' explains interior designer Jay Britto. 'This creates a very eye-pleasure symmetry in the room.'

DO: Work in thirds 

However, while the scale is important, a rug is there to add to your room, not double up as carpet or flooring.

(Image credit: Havenly)

Wondering what's the best layout for your bedroom rug ideas?

'The most popular rug layout for bedrooms is placing two-thirds of the bed on the rug, leaving the remaining one-third open to the room,' Heather from Havenly explains. 

'In this situation, the rug typically begins just in front of the nightstands (meaning they are completely off the rug). This is typically a 6’x9’ rug for a queen bed, and an 8’x10’ for a king bed.' 

Does a rug need to be in the center of a room?

While symmetry can be a useful design tool in a room, that symmetry doesn't need to be created using the proportions of the room itself when it comes to a rug. Think instead of using large furniture pieces as the anchor for the symmetry, such as a sofa or bed, or even architectural features like fireplaces or doors. 

Freelance writer

Becks is a freelance lifestyle writer who works across a number of Future's titles. This includes Real Homes, Top Ten Reviews, Tom's Guide, TechRadar and more. She started her career in print journalism at a local newspaper more than 8 years ago and has since then worked across digital and social media for food, fashion and fitness titles, along with home interior magazines. Her own interior style? She's big on creating mindful spaces in every corner of her home. If it doesn't spark joy or happiness, it has no place here. When she’s not writing, she’s reading and when she’s not reading, she’s writing.