Welcome back to the Styling Stories Series! I'm Kelley, the resident stylist here at Lulu and Georgia. Each month, I'll be sharing insider tips and rules for tricky styling situations like where to place area rugs. Over my ten year career as an interior designer and prop stylist, I've styled hundreds of room settings and have picked up tons of pro tips along the way. This week we’re discussing the general rug rules you should use when deciding the correct size, placement and materials of your new rug based on the location it will be used.

The Living Room

One of the most important styling pieces of information there is to know is how to place a rug in a living room. A living room rug should be large enough that at least the front legs of the sofa and any chairs rest upon it. For most living rooms, this will be an 8x10 or a 9x12 rug. Keep in mind that 16-18” is the ideal distance between the coffee table and the sofa. One of the biggest area rug rules of thumb you should use, is to make sure you're not choosing a rug that’s too small for your room. If you are someone with a rug smaller than you need, or if you fall in love with a smaller size rug, you can always layer it onto a jute or sisal rug that is the proper size for the room.

On the other hand, a rug should never come too close to the walls in a space, at the risk of making the room seem small and the rug out of proportion. Rugs should be at least 24” from the walls in a large room, 18” at the minimum in a small room. Before you start shopping, make sure you know what rug size will work given the space you have.

Natural materials like wool, jute or sisal are great choices and will help a Living Room that sees a lot of use. Synthetic or machine made rugs are also a wonderful and lower cost choice for high-traffic living spaces.

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The Dining Room

Not everyone needs or wants a dining room rug, but it can provide some extra softness under foot and bring much needed color and texture to a room focused on furniture. When figuring out how to place rugs in a dining room, allow for at least 36” from the edge of the dining table to the edge of the rug. Most dining tables will require a rug that is at least 8’ across, so a 8x10 or 9x12 is the correct size for most dining tables seating 6-8 people. This rule allows for a perfect feel when entertaining guests.

A wool rug design, as well as a cotton flatweave kilim or dhurrie style is a good choice for a dining room rug, as it is one of the easiest types to clean while also being strong and cozy underfoot. Performance fabric rugs that repel liquids and stains are another great choice in a dining room for those who are nervous about staining and easier clean up.

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The Bedroom

Ideally, the rug should have at least 24” on all sides of the bed, more if the room is large. I like to keep the legs of the footboard on top of the rug, and the nightstands completely off the rug. A typical rug sizing guideline to follow is: for a Twin go for a 5x8, a Full 6x9, a Queen 8x10 and a King 9x12. If you don’t have room for one of the rug sizes that we suggest above, then I’d suggest two smaller 2×3′ rugs on either side of the bed to keep things soft for shoeless feet.

Bedroom rugs can be softer and more delicate than other higher traffic areas in the home, so look for a viscose or silk blend rug for extra comfort. A moroccan or shag rug can also add plushness and texture to a bedroom space.

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The Kitchen

Depending on the layout of your kitchen, look for runner sizes, as well as smaller 2x3, 3x5 or even 5x8 styles. Runners are ideal for filling in narrow spaces, like those between a kitchen island and nearby counters, while smaller size mats can be placed in front of the sink for added padding and comfort.

No matter what size rug, make sure to leave at least six inches of space between the edge of your rug and the edge of your wall or cabinets. Flatweave rugs are a great choice for kitchens, as they are extremely durable and comfortable underfoot.

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The Bathroom

The bathroom typically houses the smallest sized rugs in the home. Rugs around 17x24” are typically used in front of pedestal sinks or shower stalls, while those measuring 21x34” fit best outside most tubs. For a double vanity, a runner rug or two smaller mat rugs can both be great options.

As far as materials go, cotton rugs are extremely soft, yet absorbent and tend to dry quickly. Avoid materials such as wool in the bathroom, which tend to hold onto moisture, and look for cotton or synthetic rugs instead.

A rug can bring color, texture and warmth to any space, and these rug rules make it easy to choose the right rug for your needs. Still not sure where to start? I've included several rugs I am currently loving below, curated by room. For even more rug rules and tips, including unpacking and cleaning, head over to the Lulu and Georgia Rug Guide.

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