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11 Guidelines for Choosing the Right Area Rug
Rule #1: Front Legs On, Back Legs Off
In sitting areas like the living room, it often looks best to keep the front legs of the sofa on the rug and the back legs off. This design approach works in most rooms; the rug connects the furniture pieces together with the rest of the room and creates a unifies, symmetrical space.
Rule 2: All legs on the rug
If you are going for a more formal, elegant, or sophisticated look, you should consider placing all of the furniture on the rug. This gives the most ‘together’ look of all approaches, and can create stunning sitting room when executed well. The most important guideline for following this rule is to think and plan before purchasing your rug, to be sure that you are getting a size that is large enough to adequately cover all of the furniture legs.
Rule 3: Hybrid: Some legs on, some legs off
Now that we have discussed the first two approaches, let’s look at the hybrid version, with some legs on and some legs off the rug. For instance, we can place only the front legs of the couch on the rug, while placing all four chair legs entirely on the rug for a different effect. If your room is quite large, this can have a very anchoring effect, and also provides a more stimulating visual experience because of the combined look. This also works well with layered rugs, again great for a large space, because it brings an eclectic coziness through mixed textures and styles.
Rule 4: No legs on the rug
Of course you always have the option of bringing in just a small rug. This will have the effect of introducing a pop of color and pattern, to liven up the space. This is great if you are looking to break up a monochromatic palette, and also a must if you want to achieve a cozy, informal living space as the result is a much more casual feel.
Rule 5: The 18" Rule
The rule of leaving an 18 inch margin around the perimeter of the rug has been a standard in the industry for years. It is a very classic look, and gives a uniformity and ordered appearance. This rule is best followed in traditional, closed rooms that are separate from surrounding areas, and not as effective in open concept spaces.
Rule 6: Just a few inches of floor around the rug
A more modern approach to the ’18 inch’ rule is to leave just a few inches around a rug, between the rug and the wall. While still providing an clean, ordered and symmetrical look, this approach has a more updated, fresh aesthetic that works well for the person looking for a bridge between super-traditional and ultra-modern. A great alternative.
Rule 7: Rug extends 12-18" around a bed
In order to create a balanced look in the bedroom, you should always plan for your rug to extend at least 18" beyond a king or queen bed, and a minimum of 12" for a twin. If you have the space, you can always go larger, but never smaller: anything less will cause the rug to appear insignificant and overwhelmed by the bed.
A smaller rug, on the other hand, can be used quite effectively at the foot of the bed, delivering a layer of interest, color and pattern. In this case, be sure that the rug extends beyond the width of the bed to create a balanced look.
Rule 8: Around a table, extend 24 inches
A wise rule of thumb is to always leave at least 24 inches of rug extending from the edge of a table. This ensures that dining chairs can maneuver easily, and will remain on the rug even while in use. This can be difficult to achieve depending on the width and length of your table, and has led many a designer to purchase a custom area rug- well worth it, when you consider the amount of the dining room gets.
Rule 9: Cover the hallways
A rug, or runner, should cover the breadth of all walking areas within a couple of inches. This is especially important for hallways and entryways. It is always best to ensure that both feet fall within the width of the rug in high traffic areas.
Rule 10: Combine, combine, combine
In large rooms, open spaces, and for the eclectic-minded, combining area rugs is a fabulous way to bring color, texture and interest into the space. Combining area rugs is more effective with the room is large enough to accommodate more than one seating arrangement, and the placement of different rugs will delineate the spaces while coordinating an overall aesthetic theme. A very fun technique to try out.
Rule 11: Bend the rules, Break the rules
All of the rules that we’ve discussed have their wisdom behind them, and they are the strategies developed through years of work by very talented designers. While the rules can help us to plan our space and envision what works best, they really are only guides, and our own tastes, personalities and preferences will ultimately guide our design decisions if they are to be authentic ones. After considering the rules, and thinking about your space, go ahead and bend or break the rules as you see fit- and enjoy it!