Should Furniture Be On The Rug? [A Complete Guide]

Area rugs are an essential decorative tool that makes even the drabbest living rooms feel cozier and put together. They're a great addition to any home, but an area rug won't help much if the furniture is placed on top of it poorly. We researched and found the best furniture configurations that will highlight your accent rug without making it look awkward. 

There are several ways you can organize furniture on an area rug that are all acceptable, but a few rules of thumb are non-negotiable:

  1. The coffee table should have all four legs placed on the rug.
  2. Couches and chairs should have at least their front two legs on the rug if possible.
  3. For bigger rugs, all four legs of couches and chairs can touch the rug.
  4. Side tables should either be on or off the rug, not in between/
  5. The rug should always be wider than the couch.

As long as you follow these basic rules, the rest is up to you. Keep reading for some fantastic ideas on how to arrange furniture on your area rug. One of these options is bound to call your name. 

traditional style living room. Luxurious interiors of a living room., Should Furniture Be On The Rug? [A Complete Guide]

What's The Rule Of Thumb For Area Rugs?

Most living room area rugs range from 5' x 8' to 9' x 12', which means they will most likely occupy only a small portion of the room. The rug should be placed in the spot where people are most likely to convene and relax, so near your couch and coffee table is a good bet. 

Your furniture's configuration will depend on the size of the rug, so take that into account when planning your living room layout. Here are some tips for how to arrange your furniture based on the size of your area rug. 

Large Area Rugs

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Make sure to place your furniture entirely on the area rug if it takes up most of your living room. And don't be afraid to space your furniture far apart if you can afford to. This will highlight the size of the room and leave some space for kids to play or pets to run around. 

Check out this Unique Loom Traditional 9' x 12'Area Rug on Amazon. 

Medium Area Rugs

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The average area rug is going to be just big enough to fit a coffee table and the front legs of your couches and chairs. This is a classic look, but it's important to make sure every piece of furniture is included on the rug. One outlying chair will seem odd if everything else has a spot on the area rug. 

Check out this 7' x 10' Geometric Trellis Collection Rug on Amazon. 

Small Area Rug

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In the case of a small area rug, it's totally fine to place your couches and chairs off the rug entirely. In this situation, the coffee table should be the only piece of furniture touching the rug, but it must have all four legs placed on it. A coffee table that is half-on half-off is never a good look. 

Check out this nuLOOM 5' x 8' Contemporary Area Rug on Amazon. 

Ideas For How To Fit Furniture On An Area Rug

With those rules of thumb out of the way we can start to get creative. There are tons of possibilities for the different ways you can configure your living room furniture. Check out some of our favorite ideas below. 

Sectional Sofa With A Square Area Rug

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A sectional sofa works wonderfully with a medium sized area rug. Find a rug that is a similar length as your sectional on both sides and decorating will be a breeze. Place all of the couch's front legs along two sides of the rug for a seamless look. 

Protip: if you have a square area rug and an L-shaped sofa, then a circular coffee table or end table works well to offset all the rigid angles. 

Create A Separate Space In A Large Room

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If you have a large, open living room and want to make it feel a little more cozy, consider this tip. Area rugs in different spots create the allusion of distinct sections of the room. A rug at one end of the living room housing your couch, coffee table, and chairs all facing each other is its own little nook in an otherwise open space. 

The rest of the room can be used for whatever you please. A desk, a dining room table, a play area for your kids. The possibilities are endless!

Nix The Coffee Table

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For a casual twist on the classic living room layout, forget the coffee table altogether. This is a functional option for those who love to relax. Opt instead for a footstool that matches your sofa. Since this leaves space for lounging on the floor, a cozy shag-like rug is a great choice.

Check out this Infinity Collection Solid Shag Area Rug on Amazon. 

Switch Up The Angles

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Square area rug, square table, L-shaped couch – too many right angles can get a little boring. If you run into this problem, fix it by placing your coffee table or a small end table at an angle against your area rug. This creates dimension and adds more interesting lines to a room that's feeling stuffy. 

Should Your Couch Be Longer Than A Rug?

The answer is no! Your rug should always be at least a few inches longer than your couch on either side. This will make your living room appear more cohesive and put together. 

Check out this article to learn more: Should Area Rug Be Wider Than Couch?

Should End Tables Be On Area Rug?

Teal and Brown Family Room with carpet

The answer to this entirely depends on the size of the rug and how much space you have. If there's a wide overhang of carpet on either side of your couch, it's a good idea to put your end tables right on the rug. If there's no space, then the end tables should avoid the rug and sit on the floor. 

One thing is for certain: don't put only the front or side legs of an end table on the rug and leave the others off. For a large piece of furniture like your couch or a recliner it's totally fine, but side tables are so small that they will look out of place if they're only halfway on a rug. Not to mention that a difference in height between the floor and the rug can cause the surface of the table to be uneven, which is bad news for a coffee cup or glass of water. 

Can A Rug Be Too Big For A Room?

There should be at least two feet of floorspace around the perimeter of your area rug – so, yes, if your rug reaches too close to the wall then it may be too big for the room. But not to worry. Most rugs can easily be resized, and it's not too difficult to do it yourself either!

To learn how to resize your area rug, check out this article: 'What Can I Do If My Rug Is Too Big? [Resizing A Rug In 3 Steps]'

How Many Rugs Is Too Many?

Large upstairs living room with cozy sitting area and a lot of carpet

Like we mentioned above, carefully placed rugs can be a great way to separate a big room into separate areas. If you have a large living room, don't be afraid to put down two or three rugs as long as each one corresponds to a different living section. One by your couch and one under a dining room table is fine, but don't go placing rugs in random spots where they have no purpose. 

In Closing

Now that you know our basic tenets of furniture placement, you are perfectly equipped to arrange your living room like a pro. Remember: the way you arrange your furniture depends on your area rug's size, so take that into consideration before making any rash decisions. Happy decorating! 

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