It’s All About Size: Area Rugs

An inviting East Hampton bedroom.
An inviting East Hampton bedroom. Photo credit: Evelyn Chin Design

An area rug is one of many stories in a room. When shopping for rugs, it’s about choosing the appropriate narrative that coordinates with the rest of the space. It can be a daunting task. As a result, many times we leave the story of our room unfinished.

As an interior designer, I recognize that it is the process of selecting the right sizes as follows:


It is about creating an illusion. The more intense the hue, the bigger the colors appear. Bright and bold colors expand, while light and soft hues recede. Area rugs are great instruments for pulling all of the colors together in an interior. They can complement, ground or create contrast and drama in a room. If drama is the intention, explosive colors are used to create a focal point. On the other hand, if the intent is for it to blend in with the furnishings, a soft palette is utilized. There will be times when an intensity of one color is all that is needed to pull everything together and ground the room. If that is the case, choose a hue from the existing color scheme within the space.


Patterns include plaids, geometrics, stripes, dots, flowers and scenes. Each gives a story. Your choice is about how big a story you want to tell in your space. If the desired look is balance and proportion, the scale of the pattern should not be larger than the shapes of the designs on the fabrics in the space. Also, consider the density of the design. A dense and complicated pattern may give an illusion of expansiveness to the area rug.


Texture gives depth and dimension in a space. There are two types to consider, a relaxed or a tight hand. A tight hand has a clean, orderly and contained expression, whereas a relaxed hand gives the appearance of an expansive, open and random look. If the fabrics make the room feel one dimensional, you may want to balance the room by choosing to express excitement and movement in the rug. The random and open look such as the Ruby Beets’s Belgium Fisheye Rug would be the way to go. On the other hand, their Grey/Blue Flat Weave Hand Loomed Rug has a subtle texture that would support an existing calm or ground a frenetic room.


An area rug adds warmth and depth to a room, and its size divides or defines a space within an interior. Common sizes of area rugs are 4’x6’, 5’x8’, 6’x9’, 8’x10’, 9’x12’ and 12’x14’. Other sizes can be custom made.

Your choice of size will depend on the overall dimension of the furniture plan in your room. For a comfortable size in the living room, where the sofa and loveseat are perpendicular to each other and meet the walls, the edges of the rug may end halfway underneath the pieces. In the dining room, the borders of the rug should extend about 24” to 26” beyond the edges of the table.

One size does not fit all. Work with the dimensions, designs and decorations in your room to create the perfect fit for the space. For example, the homeowner of a 2004 English Shingle Style House in East Hampton built by Charles Rich Design Build takes a slightly different approach. In the Red Guest Bedroom, a small 3’ x 6’ patterned rug is placed at the foot of the bed (photo shown above). This allows the dramatic dressings on the bed and walls to take center stage, while the rug is harmonizing in the background.

It’s a fun and clever way to achieve drama in the room without losing the scale and balance of the narrative of the space.

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