Design Basics: How to Arrange an Area Rug in Your Living Room

For a functional living room layout, rug placement is key. Because an area rug will give you some basic structure around where to place your furniture. That said, how your living room furniture is arranged on (or off) a rug can ultimately determine the look and feel (and flow!) of your space. We know it might feel tricky and confusing.

So, to help you with your living room rug placement, we’ve rounded up a few rug layout options! Read on for our rug layout ideas and get our tips for making it work for you.

Stuck on finding an area rug or the right size rug for your living room? Check out our living room rug layout guide for what to keep in mind in your search!

Rug Layout #1: All Furniture On Top

With this layout approach, it’s all about scale, starting with the large area rug that covers the entire living room area.

The Furniture Setup: You’ll want to arrange all your furniture and table and chair legs on the rug. Just be sure to leave enough room on all sides so they don’t feel crammed onto the rug. Think 3-5 inches between your furniture and the edge of the rug.

The Vibe: A large rug size that anchors your main living room area will give you the look and feel of there being more space (smaller rugs tend to look and feel more confining). The result is a living space with an open and welcoming vibe that appears grounded.

Good to Know: This is definitely a layout for larger living rooms. And because the rug takes up the entire space, be sure to choose a design and pattern you absolutely love. A larger-scale rug is also likely more expensive, so keep that in mind if you’re leaning towards this layout.

Rug Layout #2: Furniture Partially On Top

In this layout, the area rug centers the room so that the focus is around the fireplace, not so much the seating area.

The Furniture Setup: You’ll want to arrange your furniture with only their front legs on the rug. Make sure there are at least a few inches between the edge of your rug and where the legs stand. What this does is balance out the long vertical placement of the rug.

The Vibe: This area rug approach plays up a casual vibe that’s also balanced and grounded. The length of the rug makes your space feel airy, while the furniture arranged around the fireplace also manages to give a comfy and cozy feel.

Good To Know: This is ideal in mid to large-size rooms, so you’ll need a relatively big rug. But because the rug is placed running long towards the fireplace, it’ll be easy to find a size that works, no matter your space. Be sure to use rug pads to hold down the edges to avoid trips.

Rug Layout #3: No Furniture On Top

If you want an airy and open living room, you’ll want to go with this area rug layout, where it’s more of an accent.

The Furniture Setup: With a smaller area rug as the centerpiece in a seating area, your only option is to have all of your furniture arranged around the rug. The key is to find a rug that runs the approximate length of your seating so that they all line up neatly along the edges.

The Vibe: The vibe is definitely casual in this space, as the rug size is smaller and less “grand.” But that doesn’t mean it’s any less special; there is just less of an emphasis on the rug itself and more on the furniture and the room, which feels very casual but still comfy.

Good To Know: When using a small rug in a large space, make sure the room doesn’t end up feeling bare and empty. Consider a rug that makes a statement or go with a vintage design. A plain jute rug here can look like an afterthought so avoid using a piece like that in this instance.

Rug Layout #4: Stacked Layering

For a cozy layout option, layering two area rugs under a seating area guarantees a warm and welcoming look in any space.

The Furniture Setup: Just as you would with a large area rug, you’ll want to set all your furniture on top of your largest rug. Then arrange only part of your furniture legs on the smaller top rug. This gives the seating area a stylish layered look that also adds a bit of depth.

The Vibe: This layered approach definitely creates a cozy look. But depending on your furniture, it can easily feel elevated or casual. So this is a great versatile option for family rooms that need to be laidback every day but entertaining-ready on occasion.

Good To Know: A patterned or colorful rug on top of a large natural-fiber works best here. Rug sizes also play a big part. A 5’x7’ or 6’x9’ rug that’s too small for a large space is perfect for layering as a top rug. Just be sure it leaves enough room around for a border.

Need help finding a natural-fiber rug for your foundation? Read our guide to natural fiber rugs.

Rug Layout #5: Organic Layering

This final option is about layering an organically shaped rug over a larger rectangular one, which will create a more free-form, casual-chic look.

The Furniture Setup: A balanced living space is key to this rug layout, where different shape area rugs intersect. The more symmetrical your furniture and seating, the better it will look and feel visually. The idea is for your organic-shaped rug to break up the linear look of your space.

The Vibe: This approach will result in a more boho and casual space, especially if you choose a freeform-shaped sheepskin or cowhide rug. They’ll add major cozy vibes while also playing up a subtly chic look.

Good To Know: This is one of our foolproof tips for layering rugs. It’s also one of our favorite living room ideas for cozying up a seating area or a small corner. Or you can use this technique to create a reading nook within a larger space as well as warm-up an oddly shaped corner.


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