From tips on taking measurements to advice on how to place a rug in your living room, interior designers share their insights.

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bright living room with large area rug under couch
Credit: alvarez/ Getty Images

A good area rug should be more than just purely decorative—it should also help create a focal point in your living area. In fact, placing a rug in just the right spot can make all the difference in your space's overall look and feel. "A rug is often the statement piece that ties all the other elements of the room together," says interior designer Kimberlee Gorsline of Kimberlee Marie Interiors. "It helps furniture arrangements feel grounded while offering visual and tactile texture."

To ensure a rug creates visual balance in a living room, interior designer Bruce Fox of Bruce Fox Design says it's crucial to employ one that's proportionate to the size of the room and the large furniture items, particularly the sofa. "Scale is always in the forefront of my mind when selecting a rug," Fox says. "It's the thing to 'get right' in a living room." Ahead, our experts weigh-in on how to select the right size rug and how to perfectly place the accessory, to make the most of your space.

Take furniture arrangements into account.

When selecting the right rug for your sofa, Billy Ceglia of Billy Ceglia Designs says you'll first need to consider the size of the whole living room. "We generally size a carpet to fit the room it's going in, with even margins all around—usually between eight to 12 inches," he explains. "This allows for easier furniture placement and allows pieces to be moved around when entertaining."

Plan accordingly.

Along with allowing for at least eight inches of space between furniture items, Ceglia says a rug should also be large enough for all of the furnishings in the area to have their front legs on the carpet. "We would advise that at a minimum, there be 12 inches of carpet on either side of the sofa," he says. If you're having a hard time determining what size rug will work best for your sofa, Fox recommends taping an outline of a specific carpet in blue tape on your living room floors. "This will give you a real sense of the size so you can see exactly how it will look," he explains.

Center the rug under your couch.

While there's no right or wrong way to place a rug in your living room, Gorsline says centering your couch on it is usually a safe bet. "As the anchor of the room, if the rug is off-center it tends to make everything else look a little off, too," she explains. However, depending on the size of the room and the style of sofa, Gorsline says a couch doesn't always have to be perfectly centered on the rug. "In the example of a large sectional, the sectional should be more in line with the corner of the rug (leaving a little margin if you can) instead of centered," she explains.

When in doubt, size up.

If you're torn between two different rug sizes, Ceglia says that bigger is always better. "Too small of a rug is worse than no rug at all," he explains. "A larger rug makes the space feel more pulled together, and allows for easier and more functional furniture placement."

Consider more than one rug.

If you're lucky enough to have a large living room, Fox says you can use a variety of different size rugs to create distinct zones throughout the space. "Each seating arrangement can have its own rug or there can be a large central rug with smaller accent rugs employed around the room," he explains.

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