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Why Rug Placement Matters in Your Living Room Décor

rug placement under sofa

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“The details are not the details. They make the design.” - Charles Eames.

Every element in your room matters when it comes to the decor, especially the rug, which occupies a considerably large visual space. The way you position your rug can influence the visual appeal, comfort, and even the perceived size of the room.

So, to help you with this goal and choose the right size of rug for your space, ali & shea is here with top tips for perfect rug placement in the living room.

The Importance of Rugs in Home Design

rug placement in living room

Before we move on to the living room rug placement guide, we must address the– why is rug placement so important?

Beyond their functional purpose, rugs play a pivotal role as artful elements that tie together a room's aesthetics and create a sense of harmony. Let us explore how:

  • Anchoring the Space: A rug can act as an anchor that defines the seating area within a larger room. Placing the front legs of your furniture on the rug creates a cohesive and well-defined seating arrangement. This not only adds structure to the room but also makes it visually pleasing.

  • Visual Appeal: The right rug can serve as a design element that ties together different colors, patterns, and textures in your living room. It can complement the existing furniture and décor, adding depth and visual interest to the space.

  • Warmth and Comfort: Rugs provide a soft and comfortable surface underfoot. Placing a rug in your living room creates a cozy atmosphere, making the space more inviting for both residents and guests.

  • Acoustic Benefits: Rugs can help absorb sound and reduce echo in a room, improving the overall acoustics. This is especially important in larger living spaces with hard flooring surfaces that tend to reflect sound.

  • Defining Zones: In open-concept living spaces, rugs can help define different functional zones. For instance, you can use a rug to separate the living area from the dining or workspace, visually dividing the room without physical barriers.

  • Perceived Room Size: The size and placement of the rug can influence how spacious your living room appears. A larger rug that accommodates all furniture can make the room seem more expansive, while a smaller rug might visually constrict the space.

  • Focal Point Enhancement: A well-placed rug can enhance the room's focal point, such as a fireplace or a beautiful piece of artwork. By framing the focal point with furniture placed on the rug, you draw attention to that central element.

  • Personal Style Expression: Rugs come in various designs, colors, and textures, allowing you to express your personal style through your living room décor. The right rug can become a statement piece that reflects your taste and adds character to the room.

The Foundation of Style: Understanding Rug Sizes and Shapes

rug placement furniture

One of the key aspects of selecting a rug that often goes overlooked is its size. For area rug placement in the living room, factors like furniture placement and proportions come into play, and the proper rug size can have a significant influence over the overall look of the space. For instance, a rug that is too small can make a room's decor feel out of place and feel incomplete, while a rug too big can overwhelm a room.

Common Rug Sizes for Different Living Room Setups and Styles

sofa rug placement

Struggling to find the right rug fit for your living spaces?

Use your living room rug placement guide to choose the right size rug for your living room guided by decor style, room size, and furniture placement:

Spaces and Styles

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Small Living Room

For a compact or petite living room where furniture is arranged closely, a rug sized 5'x8' or 6'x9' strikes the right balance, preventing the area from feeling overly crowded.

Medium to Large Living Room

In the case of a medium to large living room with ample space to spare, opting for an area rug sized 8'x10' or 9'x12' is the optimal decision, ensuring that the room feels well-proportioned and comfortably open.

Open Concept Living Area

In an open concept space where rooms blur into one another, use a larger rug like a 9'x12' or 10'x14' that can visually separate the living area from the dining or kitchen area.

Minimalist or Modern Style

In a minimalist or modern setting, opt for an 8'x10' rug that allows some space around the furniture.

Traditional or Cozy Style

Choose a larger rug that fits the complete seating arrangement for a traditional or cozy living room. A 9' x 12' or even 10' x 14' rug can contribute to creating a warm and inviting ambiance.

Eclectic or Layered Style

For an eclectic look, you can layer rugs of different sizes and shapes. Start with a larger base rug and layer a smaller, contrasting rug on top for added texture and interest.

Common Rug Shapes

Choose a rug shape that complements the furniture layout. Some of the common rug shapes are:

Rectangular Rugs

Rectangular rugs are versatile, making them a seamless fit for most seating setups. They can be used for rug placement under couches, coffee tables, and accent chairs to firmly anchor the seating area. Aligning the length of the rug with the furniture arrangement's length generates a sense of cohesiveness.

Round Rugs

Round rugs are an optimal choice for circular or curved seating arrangements. They soften angular lines in the room and complement furniture pieces with rounded edges. Placing a round rug under a circular dining table adds equilibrium to the arrangement.

Square Rugs

Square rugs harmonize with square seating arrangements, such as when two sofas face each other with a central coffee table. They're also ideal for symmetrical designs, imparting an organized aesthetic.

Runner Rugs

Runner rugs excel in hallways and entryways, adding texture while safeguarding high-traffic areas. They're equally fitting for narrow spaces like the sides of a bed or galley kitchens, injecting style into compact locations.

Oval Rugs

Oval rugs shine in elongated seating layouts, like those featuring a lengthy sofa and chairs. They introduce an element of grace and work well to soften angular spaces.

Irregular Shapes and Cowhide Rugs

For unique and eclectic spaces, irregularly shaped rugs, such as cowhide rugs, infuse character. They're perfect for modern or bohemian designs, offering a touch of individuality.

Rug Placement for Seating Areas

area rug placement living room

Your rug placement matters as much as its size. While in the previous section, we provided tips for rugs according to their size, there are some general rules and placement ideas that can act as an anchor that guides you in placing your rugs in a room:

  • Understand the Room Layout: Before placing a rug, carefully assess the layout of the room and the location of furniture pieces. Determine the main seating areas and visualize how the rugs will complement the furniture arrangement.

  • Anchoring the Seating Area: For a cohesive look, position the rug under the primary seating area, such as the rug placement under the sofa and coffee table. This anchors the space and creates a visual connection between the furniture pieces.

  • Maintain Proportions: Ensure that there is a consistent border of rug visible around the furniture. This maintains visual balance and prevents the rug from looking out of place.

  • Consider the Room's Purpose: The purpose of the room also plays a role in rug placement. In a formal living room, the entire seating area might be on the rug. In a more casual family room, a slightly more relaxed placement might work.

  • Front Legs On, All Legs On: Depending on your preference and the design aesthetic, you can adjust your rug and sofa placement so that you have the front legs of the sofa, chairs, and coffee table on the rug. Alternatively, for a more unified look, consider placing all legs of the furniture on the rug.

Journey Beyond: Discover the key to a cohesive living space with our guide on sectional rug placement, ensuring your room feels balanced and inviting.

Layering and Texture: Rugs as Decorative Elements

living room rug placement guide

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One creative technique that has gained popularity is layering rugs, a strategy that adds a captivating sense of visual interest and depth to living room designs. Layering rugs involves placing one rug atop another, allowing contrasting textures, patterns, and colors to interact harmoniously.

Firstly, layering rugs introduces an extra layer of texture. The juxtaposition of different materials, such as a plush rug over a jute one, adds visual interest and an interesting interplay of different elements that complement each other in a room.

Moreover, layering rugs enables you to define zones within a larger space. For instance, in an open-concept living area, placing a rug beneath the seating arrangement and layering a smaller rug in the reading nook provides distinct identities to each zone.

When layering rugs, keep a few guidelines in mind. Ensure that the bottom rug is larger than the one on top to maintain proportion. Experiment with different textures, patterns, and shapes while keeping a cohesive color palette to avoid visual clutter. Additionally, pay attention to the placement of furniture to avoid an overcrowded appearance.

Practical Maintenance Tips for Living Room Rugs

rug care

Keeping your living room rugs well-maintained not only prolongs their lifespan but also contributes to a cleaner and more inviting living environment. Here are some practical maintenance tips to ensure your rugs remain in excellent condition:

  • Regular Vacuuming: Vacuum your rugs at least once a week, or more frequently in high-traffic areas. This prevents dirt, dust, and debris from embedding into the fibers and causing premature wear.

  • Use a Rug Pad: Place a rug pad underneath your rugs. Rug pads provide cushioning, prevent slipping, and protect both the rug and the floor underneath.

  • Rotate Periodically: Regularly rotate your rugs every few months, particularly those situated in high-traffic zones. This practice effectively spreads out foot traffic and sunlight exposure, ensuring a uniform distribution that combats uneven fading and wear.

  • Shake and Beat: For smaller rugs, carry them outdoors and administer a vigorous shake or a gentle beating to dislodge any accumulated loose dirt and dust.

  • Blot Spills Immediately: Accidents can happen, especially spills. When they occur, immediately dab the area with a clean cloth or paper towel. Be cautious not to rub, as doing so can inadvertently worsen the stain.

  • Spot Cleaning: If a spill leads to a stain, opt for a mild detergent or a specialized rug cleaner. Prior to applying, make sure to test the cleaning solution in a less noticeable area to ensure its compatibility.

  • Professional Cleaning: Periodically, consider professional rug cleaning, especially for larger or more delicate rugs. Professionals can remove deep-seated dirt and stains without causing damage.

  • Pet Hair Removal: If you have dogs or cats, who leave fur on furnishings like sparkles, vacuum regularly and use a lint roller or a brush designed for pet hair removal to keep your rugs free of fur.

  • Avoid Moisture: Moisture can cause mold and mildew growth which is bad for your rugs. Avoid placing rugs in damp areas, and be cautious with steam cleaning if the rug isn't designed for it.

  • Gentle Brushing: For certain rugs, like shag rugs, use a soft-bristle brush to fluff the fibers and keep them looking plush.


With the tips listed in this blog, we hope you’re all set to get a new set of rugs and place them perfectly in your living room. Just remember - size, shape, and position should be guided by the size, shape, and decor of the room! That’s as simple as it gets, isn’t it?

If you’re planning to spruce up your home decor, contact ali & shea to add a touch of luxury to your interiors and create a space that reflects your unique style and elevates your living experience. Don't wait to experience the magic of our design services — reach out today for a consultation and start crafting the home of your dreams together!


How should a living room rug be arranged?

A living room rug should be arranged to anchor the seating area and complement the furniture layout.

Where should you place a rug in the living room?

What is the rule for a rug under a sofa?

Should rugs be in the center of the room?

Does a rug have to be under furniture?


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