Design Mistake #2: The ‘Too Small Rug’
America has been suffering for too long from ‘too small rug’ syndrome. In case you missed the other design related American sufferings here they are: Generic Art | The Generic Sofa | Painting a Small, Dark Room White | How To Hang Art Correctly | How to Hang Curtains | Bad Wood Finishes | Anything “Antiqued” or “Faux Old” .
But back to rugs. I see it virtually every day and it pains me, especially when it’s so easily avoided. I’ve been trying to figure out how this plague came to be I think I’ve finally nailed it:
1. Huge rugs can be expensive and can feel like such a scary commitment. 2. A 5×8 or 6×9 rug sound big even though they often aren’t. 3. Catalogs and magazines are misleading. I’ve styled a lot of catalogs where we have to use the sample size (months before the actual rug is available) and its only 5×7 so we ‘make it work’ and in the shot it’s okay, but in actuality that rug is way too small for the room. I also think that retailers know that 5x7s sell so much more because they are cheaper so they don’t stock 8×10’s in the store, so when people go to purchase they think, ‘Well, this must be big enough because its the biggest one’. Also ordering and waiting is less fun, so people just snag up the 5×7. Lastly nothing is more annoying than getting a rug home and deciding it isn’t quite right, then having to return it – so I think people just don’t.
Click through to see 25 8×10 rugs under $500 …
A rug in a living room should really ground the whole seating around – it tells everyone that THIS is where the conversation is, this is the focal point of the room, and a too small rug makes it feel disjointed and really just cheapens everything.
Here are a bunch of pretty rooms that they’ve tried to convince us have big enough rugs. They don’t:
Don’t listen to these rooms. They look fine in a photo because everything else is beautiful, but they are actually super awkward. If you have a beautiful rug like the one on the right (above) layer it over a huge sisal or another solid flat weave. I did that here and it totally worked.
These below are particularly funny to me because we are supposed to think that the people who own that art collection and that amazing loft space are fine with those teeny tiny awkward rugs:
I think that the first rug might be a bathmat. It must have been some sort of product roundup shot because otherwise I have no idea why there is a task lamp on the coffee table or a collection of vessels on the bath mat.
Living rooms almost ALWAYS need at least an 8×10 if not a 9×12. You heard it. Unless you have a TINY living room, stay away from anything under 6×9. Considering a 4×6? Don’t. That’s fine for next to a bed, in a kitchen, entrance, etc, but a 4×6 will assuredly not work in your living room.
Here are the two exceptions – 1. If your living room is smallish and your sofa is up against a wall, then you can float a 6×9 rug in front of it. For some reason this doesn’t look awkward or too small, probably because the seating area already feels grounded and intimate because the room is smallish and the wall is helping ground everything. And 2. If you use a cowhide. For some reason because of the sculptural shape of the hide, it can be smaller and its still pretty.
But otherwise, your rug should be big enough for at least two legs of all your furniture to be on it, and ideally all four (but I know that is asking a lot).
My rule has always been to keep it consistent – don’t have your sofa completely on it if your lounge chairs are totally off of it. Its better for them all to be distributed equally, visually.
Often 8×10’s aren’t even big enough to get all furniture on it, so before you purchase make sure that your room can’t handle a 9×12 rug and if so, please get that. I’ve never walked into a huge living room with a big rug grounding a seating area and thought, ‘Woah, these idiots have such a big pretty rug!!’
You need to make sure that your rug is first and foremost proportioned to your sofa – if your sofa is 7′ long (standard is 7′ or 8′) then your rug better at least be 9′ wide so you have a foot on either side. AT LEAST!! But don’t think ‘Oh great, I can just get a 6×9’ because if your living room is pretty big then your rug also needs to be proportioned to your room. A too small rug can and will make your beautiful living room feel smaller, choppy and generally cheap.
Tough love, today, I know. I’ve just seen it so often and it saddens me. If you love your too small rug, please just layer it on an inexpensive LARGE sisal (Ikea and Target both have affordable ones).
Meanwhile to combat this syndrome, nay PLAGUE, we have done a roundup of 8×10 (OR LARGER) rugs under $500. Brady searched for days because well, 8×10’s for $249 aren’t exactly everywhere, but we feel confidant and happy to recommend these bad boys to you. We chose $500 because there are a lot of 8×10’s under $1000 that are easy to find but the $500 or under price point felt like a good challenge and within most people’s budgets.
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For additional tips and rug size info check out this video I made years ago.
May your living room feel more pulled together, grounded and proportioned. Good luck, friends.
This public service announcement was brought to you by every designer ever in the world and probably your mom, too.
For all of my design mistakes check out: Generic Art | The Generic Sofa | Painting a Small, Dark Room White | How To Hang Art Correctly | How to Hang Curtains | Bad Wood Finishes | Anything “Antiqued” or “Faux Old”testtest