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Oriental Rugs - A buyer’s Guide

Guide to select the right rug size for your room.

Living Room Rug Size

A living rug can be any size, from as small as a 3 x 5 or 4 x 6 feet accent rug in front of a sofa to a large room size carpet that nearly fills the room. Below, some general observations are shown.

  • Will the rug be foreground or background?
    That is, do you want the rug to set the visual tone in the room, or is something else visually more important? It the space is bland and neutral in color and feel, a bolder rug design with more saturated colors and stronger color contrasts will add impact and be the first thing you notice in the room.  If the space is already quite busy with artwork, architectural detail, bookcases, lots of furniture, etc., a larger, more quiet rug will have the effect of knitting the space together and calming the room.
  • Multiple rugs define multiple spaces.
    Sometimes the living room is so large that it seems to lack human scale, you are sitting here, and your quests are sitting way over there.  Several rugs can be used to carved out multiple spaces that feel more intimate and homey in a large room.
    First, think about how the room is used. Is there a natural focus like fireplace or gorgeous view? Spaces like these can be defined with appropriately sized rugs.  The effect is to organize a large space into more complex but more human sized areas.
  • A long term tendency toward using smaller rugs.
    Since the 1950s people have been choosing smaller living room rugs.  When wall to wall carpeting was in vogue, people so individualistic as to buy oriental rugs that nearly filled their living rooms. A typical arrangement was a nearly wall to wall oriental rug with furniture arrange on top or around its perimeter. These days hardwood or marble floors are an expensive and attractive architectural detail, and it seems silly to cover them up. Living room rugs are commonly sized today so that major pieces of furniture abut the rug, but do not sit on the rug. When you sit on the sofa your feet are on the carpet.  You can appreciate the rug’s design and colors because it is not hidden under the furniture.
    You can use quite a small rug as the “main” rug in a living room.  An arrangement consisting of a 6 x 9 feet rug centered in front of the fireplace and sofa and the end tables, and flanked by two upholstered easy chairs, will occupy a flloor space of about 12 x 18 feet.
  • How do rugs relate to each other? 

    If you use more than one rug in your living room, how do you make them compliment each other? Firstly, there needs to be a clear hierarchy; one rug needs to be in charge. You can usually do this automatically by making on rug larger than the others. The big rug is the central scheme in the room. Think about a 14 x 24 feet living room. The space would comfortably hold two 8 x 10 feet rugs side by side (as shown in the left picture), but this arrangement splits the room right down the center and invites psychological disquiet.  It would be hard to make this room seem restful. Much better to use a bigger rug in one end and a smaller and clearly secondary rug in another ( as shown in the right picture; a 9 x 12 feet on the left and a 6 x 9 feet on the right).
    There is also the issue of how to relate colors and patterns in two or more rugs.  Basically, rug can resemble one another in three characteristics: color, design and texture. The more rugs share the same attributes of color, design, and texture, the better they will “go together.”  Be careful, though! Too much similarity submerges the individuality that makes a particular rug interesting. Better not to try clone the big rug in a smaller size, but rather to find a smaller rug with allover pattern instead of the big rug’s medallion design, or a smaller tug in the inverse color combination of the big rug.  The small rug should add something unique to the space.

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