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How to get the perfect rug size for your dining room.

Tips for Home Décor – creating the right “balance” between look and function.

When I buy rugs for my home, I think about how they’ll look in my home – color and style, and how they will ‘get along’ with everything else that is already in the room. But for some people that’s not enough.  They like to go a bit further with themes, shapes and symbology.

I have a friend who is a professor of history at a university and, logically, is a real history buff.  He says that his biggest problem is that he can’t look at anything (including furniture and rugs) without thinking about its story and that sometimes creates a small problem (like if he needs to buy a rug!). But sometimes it’s fun for those of us within earshot to hear the history and stories behind a design.

Not long ago, we were at an event together and he noticed a lovely ornate rug with all sorts of little designs around the edges. There was other furniture in the home that was equally impressive but, my friend couldn’t take his eyes off that rug.  He proceeded to wax poetic about how in ancient times each of the designs in a pattern had a separate meaning.

Because rugs were more durable than flags or clothing, the stories of the family that commissioned the rug were told in the designs and symbols within the pattern – their accomplishments, alliances, and very often how they got their wealth.  Rugs (think medieval tapestries that were hung on the walls to keep warmth inside) were incredibly expensive to own so the families that did own them wanted everyone to know (without actually using words) their family history.

Today the rugs you choose can still tell so many stories about who you are – what you like, the style you’re comfortable in, etc. – things that can start a conversation.  That one little ornate rug at the event we were attending not only got my friend going, but he eventually had three or four other people listening to his stories and asking questions.

For a dining room (or any room) think about all the furniture in the room before you start – not just the table and chairs but any other pieces that will ‘live’ in the room.  Every item in the room should work together – in unison they convey the look and feel that you’re trying to create. The rug anchors the space – helps it look appropriately balanced.  Rugs can not only add to a room but, if not chosen carefully, can also take over that same room.  So, before you go out and buy that rug, place all the furniture in the room exactly where you want it.

Pay attention to the functionality of the rug you are looking at – that gorgeous maroon and grey floral design might be the perfect color for your chairs, but is it the right rug for the room it will ‘live’ in? Is it practical enough to deal with the occasional spill?  Is it the right size?  Too large and it will just look like wall to wall carpeting and your furniture will look crowded.  Too small and your chairs will scrape the floor when they are pulled out and likely catch the edge of the rug when they are pushed back in.  When it’s just the right size the feet of the chair remain on the carpet when the chairs are moved away from the table.

Here are my three easy tips to help you figure out just the right size for your dining room:

  1. Pull out all the chairs as if you are just going to sit down. The back of the chair should be 18-24” from the edge of your table with about 8-10” from there to the wall or the closest piece of furniture.
  2. Pick a rug that is the same shape as your table to create symmetry.
  3. Remember the basic sizes, and plan accordingly:
    • For a 6-chair rectangular table the ideal size is an 8-foot by 10-foot rug.
    • For an 8-chair rectangular table the size goes up to a 9-foot by 12-foot rug.
    • If you have a 4-chair round or square table, then either an 8-foot square or 8-foot diameter round rug will look perfect.

An excellent online source is Rug Studio – pictures alone will help fuel some ideas.

Restoration Hardware – another favorite source of mine – is also a great site for some truly inspired design ideas.




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