Many years ago, I got my start in interior design selling Tibetan carpets. I learned a lot about rugs, as you can imagine, the ideal knots per square inch; how the quality of the wool is determined by the altitude the wool is grown in: the higher altitude produces sheep with a higher-lanolin-content coat, creating the most desired, softest and silkiest Tibetan rugs.

To do rugs well, you need to consider all of these details, and in addition, select the right size and placement, and have a look and feel that pleases your eye — and feet — balances with the rest of the elements in the room.


This plush wool shag rug in a Piedmont teen girls’ hangout, invites you to sink your toes into the softness; from Stark

When it comes to sizing, Pinterest offers a wealth of how-to-size-it guides. Here are a few of my guidelines, although nothing is absolute until the rest of the room, furnishings and dimensions, is taken into account.

In a bedroom, if you are not placing the entire bed on a rug, you want to go with the rule of thirds; either two-thirds of the rug is under the bed and one third extends past the foot of the bed, or if you prefer not to step out onto the rug, then one third under the foot of the bed, and two thirds out past the end. If the entire bed is on the rug, then the distance it extends out past the foot may be one-fourth of the total length. And the rug should be wider than it is long. Proportions will depend on the size of the room and size and placement of nightstands.

In a dining room, ideally the rug should extend out far enough that the back legs of the chairs will still be on the rug, even when pulled out; although overall room size can affect this measurement as well, since the relationship with distance to the walls and other furniture comes into play.

Living room rugs can look best if all of the feet of all furnishings are within the perimeter; however it is common practice in interior design to have rugs extend under only the front feet of a couch — to at least half-way under the seat. Smaller pieces, like chairs and end tables, those should be placed with all feet situated on the rug, not just the front.

Bachelor’s Bedroom: A wool-and-silk hand-tufted cut pile rug that is soft underfoot, in a modern pattern, contributes a bold design element; sourced via Niba Collections

If you are layering rugs (as discussed in my previous post), these tips most likely apply to the furnishings on top of the top rug, depending on the size of that rug in relation to the larger rug, and the room.

About proper rug maintenance: While rugs make our homes cozier, they also collect dirt and dust. Keeping them well-vacuumed extends the life of a carpet, but do not use the “beater bar” setting on your vacuum. You want suction-only. Most vacuums have a switch for carpet, check your instructions to make sure you are not engaging that bar with the brushes on it if you choose that setting.

Learn more about the use of rugs in interior design in our previous post, here.