Rule 1: Front legs on the rug, back legs off. Here is a gorgeous room where the front legs sit on the rug while others are off. This approach really does work in most situations; the rug connects the various furniture pieces together while extending far enough into the room to create a sense of good proportion.
Another example of following this rule, seen from above, shows its effect very well. It works well here in large part because the tone of the rug is very similar to the wood flooring, making the break between the two visually subtle.
Rule 2: Some front legs on. Before moving onto examples where all the legs are placed on the rug, let's look at a hybrid of the two approaches. Here only the front legs of the sofa sit on the rug while the placement of the chairs leave all four legs firmly on the rug. This proves to be more effective here than if only the front legs of the chairs fit onto the rug, because of the size of the room and the contrasting tone of the rug against the flooring.
Rule 3: All legs on the rug. One tip is to determine the furniture placement prior to selecting what size rug to use, which leads to the next rule: A room generally looks more pulled together if all the furniture legs are planted firmly on the rug.
Here is a beautiful example of a large graphic rug defining a space and shows the effectiveness of having all the furniture legs placed on the rug.
Rule 4: No legs on the rug. Now if you would like to bring in just a small rug, perhaps one that introduces a pop of pattern into the room, another approach would be to have none of the furniture touching the rug. While this creates a completely different look, it also works!
Rule 5: 18 inches of bare floor around the rug. The next rule has been a standard for ages, and this approach states that there should be approximately 18 inches of bare floor between the rug edge and the perimeter walls of the room, bringing in traditional proportion. This guideline is great in rooms that are enclosed and separate from surrounding rooms, as opposed to open concept spaces.
Using this rule in a small room is more successful if the 18 inches of bare floor exposed around the rug is reduced to approximately eight inches.
Rule 6: Just a few inches of floor around the rug. Here is a successful application of the rule to run the rug up to within inches of the wall around the entire room. While a traditional approach, it feels modern here due to the decor decisions.
Here is another wonderful example of this approach and how the rug defines the room design.
Rule 7: Extend the rug 12-18 inches around a bed. For an area rug to look balanced under a bed, it should be large enough to extend beyond the sides of the bed at least 18 inches for a king or queen bed and at least 12 inches for a full or twin bed. Depending upon the size of the room there can be more rug extension around the bed, but not less, which would make the rug look insignificant being covered mostly by the bed.
However, a smaller rug can also be very effective placed at the foot of a bed, bringing in just a little layer of interest and pattern. Here the rug width should extend beyond the width of the bed to feel balanced.
Rule 8: Extend the rug 24 inches around a table. It is much easier to maneuver dining chairs if there is at least 24 inches of rug extending from the edge of the table on all sides. This rule allows the back legs of the chairs to be on the rug, even when being used. This can be a hard design goal to achieve due to the typical proportion of tables to area rugs.
Rule 9: Cover the walking area. The rug should cover the majority of the walking area in a hallway or entry. For both safety and comfort, it is preferable to have both feet fall within the surface of the rug in a high traffic area.
Rule 10: Combine rugs. In making rug decisions for a room, another approach would be to bring in multiple area rugs. This can be very effective when the room is large with more than one seating arrangement.
Rule 11: Bend the rules. While all these rules have merit, apparently this room believes the rule of all legs on or off is meant to broken, and doesn't it look great!
To sum up this topic, there are multiple rules to guide the decision of what size rug is best for the rooms of a home and many of them completely contradict one another! But being aware of the various rules can provide guidelines to help determine which approach is most appealing to you and will be effective in achieving the look you desire in your individual spaces.
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