Dining Room Rug Rules

The hunt for a dining room rug is a task most people face at some point – area rugs come in all shapes and sizes and are made of many different kinds of materials, from wool to polypropylene.  Area rugs are available at a wide variety of price points but thankfully there are modern choices to fit every budget.

An area rug is important to a dining space because it adds both comfort and style, frames the table, and can also define the room itself, especially in open floor plans. There are no rules about what style to choose, that is a personal choice, but there is a general rule when it comes to the proper size. 


sisal rug bhg


What size your rug should be? Here’s a handy formula: measure the width and length of your table and add 18-24” to each of the four sides to allow extra room for the chairs. (Be sure to include your table leaf in your calculation.) For most spaces, that means a 5 × 8’ rug is too small and you should invest in a rug that measures somewhere between 6 x9’ and 9 x 12’. 

Those necessary extra inches are important because they allow guests to slide chairs out from under the table without falling off the edge of the rug. If the rug is too small, chairs can still scratch the floor or get tripped up on the edge of a rug when trying to slide them back in. 

It’s also important to purchase a rug that is not too big – it’s best that your area rug does not trespass into the space where a sideboard or buffet sits, and so there is a visible border of flooring as well.


rug border bhg


An exception would be a cowhide rug, the nature of it means some legs will be on, some will be off, so just go with it!

cowhide rug in dining space bhg


An area rug can be a jumping off point for your dining room’s design style and palette – play off the color cues with complementary fabric and accessories. 

damask area rug bhg


geometric motif bhg


The style of your dining rug can vary according to your lifestyle, budget, and personal tastes. A geometric motif is a popular modern approach – botanical patterns and stripes are also classic choices.

neutral geometric chevron rug bhg


dining room floral rug bhg


striped rug dining room bhg


A neutral sisal rug is a sure bet – it adds subtle organic texture and won’t compete with any of your other design choices.

sisal rug french chairs bhg


A round or oval table does not necessarily mean that the shape of the rug must also have round edges. Mimic the circular shape for consistency or choose a basic rectangle, either look works well. 

pedestal table round rug

botanical rug in dining room

round table rectangular rug bhg


But remember, there is no rule that commands a dining space must have an area rug so feel free to go without. If you’ve got beautiful or interesting floors, whether they’re painted or hardwood, ceramic tile or brick, or if you simply prefer your space without an area rug, then eliminate it entirely. It’s that simple! 

painted floor no rug


dining room no area rug bhg


brick floor no area rug


Do you have an area rug in your dining space?  How did you choose yours?



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17 Responses to “ Dining Room Rug Rules ”

  1. I love the cowhide accent rug! Right now, I have a PB indoor/outdoor rug as we eat and do crafts everyday in the room. It’s super easy to clean up! ;)

  2. I’m moving into an apartment that has carpet in the dining area – your thoughts on a rug? I’m leaning towards getting one to protect the carpet… but don’t want it to look over-carpeted.

  3. Thank you for this post! I am currently thinking about re-doing my dining room and I know my current rug is too small. It helps to know the size it should be!

  4. Wonderful timeless tips/info and examples.
    For those of us that change furniture/rugs every couple of years, we need a rug and furniture swap web-site. I have 2 gorgeous large traditional Ralph Lauren rugs and lots of furniture to sell/exchange. Wish I had thought of moving from traditional horsey look before buying a very modern house…

  5. We have a square dining room and purchased a round table. I assumed that I would need to use either a circular rug or a square rug. Would a rectangle work in this situation?


  6. DO bamboo rugs work well on laminate under kitchen table…or do small bamboo pieces crack under the weight

  7. This is where the idol dinging room search will end. Great interior work in these pics and setting is awesome, Very good use of space and chairs.

  8. Our dining room has a carpet.
    As the chairs have wheels they are harder to move.
    Please suggest a smooth one on the area.

  9. I have a dark colored round table with 3-leg pedestal -type base. The flooring is also a dark wood. I don’t want a big rug in the dining room, but am thinking of putting a round rug just big enough for the legs of the table to sit on, just to separate the table from the flooring. The chairs would not sit on the rug at all. The rug would basically be a background for the table. I’ve never seen this, but do you think it would look ok?

  10. Can you tell me where I can buy the area rug with the different shades of blue hearts on a white background? I love it! Thanks

  11. is there anything that you can do about an area rug (on carpet) that is bunching up under the weight of a large dining room table?

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