Choosing the Right Dining Room Rug for Your Home

March 18, 2019

Dining Room Rug
Everything you need to know about choosing the correct area rug for your dining room - from measuring for the right size, to picking the best colors, patterns, and materials, and even where to shop for a new rug for your own home.

DESIGN + STYLE   |   Updated January 15, 2022

Dining Room Rug

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Area rugs are one of the most important design decisions when it comes putting together any dining room. 

They are also one of the most costly investments. Dining tables are the other. You want to choose quality that is going to last, as well as a design and color that you'll still love years down the road.

With so many different shapes, sizes, colors, materials, and styles from which to choose, it can be overwhelming to know what will work best for your space.  Just because you like it in a friend's home or loved it on a favorite blog doesn't mean that it is also the correct rug for your home and family situation.

You should always be informed when entering into a costly investment, and thankfully there are a few simple tips to help guide you during a search for your next dining room rug purchase.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Liz Foster Interiors



If you choose to go without a rug in the dining room, that is perfectly fine.  It is a matter of preference and some people like the ease of not having anything under the table that is going to need cleaned frequently, especially if you have kids.

Having a rug under the table does have benefits, however.

  • From a design standpoint, it creates a great focal point helping you choose a color palette and other finishes for the dining room.  In addition to adding color and texture to the room, it provides warmth and comfort both under your feet and to the overall cozy feeling of the room.  In open concept living and dining rooms, the rug helps to create different zones and grounds each space.

  • A rug also helps to protect your floor the scratches that occur when pushing and pulling chairs in and out from the table.

  •  Another benefit is protection to your floors from food and beverage spills that are bound to occur.  

  • And a rug under your dining table can also help muffle noise in the room, which is really important if you like to entertain a large amount of guests at a time.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Amber Interiors


Rugs come in a variety of standard sizes like 5x7, 8x10, or 9x12.  But many brands manufacture sizes slightly larger or smaller than the standard sizes as well.  There is a right (or best) size rug for everyone based on the size and floorplan of your room, as well as the size and shape of your table.  You may not be able to find the exact dimensions you are looking for, but aim for something close.

If you choose a rug that is too small, it can make the room feel smaller than it is and looks obvious that you bought a rug smaller than you should have. 

Choose a rug that is too large running from wall to wall and the room can feel like it is all rug.  You want to find a balance between the rug and the border of flooring that is going to show all the way around. Aim to have at least about 12 to 18 inches of flooring that will still be visible after the rug is laid down.

In general, rugs should extend about 24  to 30 inches beyond each side of the table.  You want your chairs to still be sitting completely on the rug when they're pulled out from the table.  This helps people to easily pull their chairs into the table when sitting down without catching the back legs on the edge of the rug.  If you plan on using table leaves regularly, this should be considered in your measurements. 


STEP 1:  To measure what size rug is best for your dining room, first get all your furniture into place (or tape out the size and location if that isn't possible).  

STEP 2:  Pull the chairs out as though people would be sitting there, then measure out a couple more inches from the back of each chair. It is helpful to use the painter's tape to mark the outline of where your rug should be so that you can visualize it in the space and easily measure from side to side.

STEP 3:  Make note of the dimensions going in both directions. Each measurement should include the width of the table (or length of the table) + the width of 2 chairs (one on each side) + a few extra inches of space on each side.

STEP 4:  Compare this "perfect" sized rug to the size of the room and make sure that you will still have at least 12 to 18 inches of bare floor space surrounding the rug on all sizes. If not, you will have to search for a rug that will fall in between the right size based on your table size and the right size based on the room size.  

STEP 5:  Also pay close attention to where the rug will fall in front of other furniture in the room like china cabinets or buffets.  If the room is small, you want to be sure that the rug won't extend right to (or worse yet) just under the furniture along the wall.


As already mentioned, a dining room rug can dictate the design of the entire room so you must think of the colors and patterns in terms of what you'd like to see in your overall design.  Bold and colorful?  Subtle and neutral?  Do you want to make a statement with the rug or have it blend in with the other furnishings and fabrics?

The important idea to consider is that you want it to compliment your space and not distract from it, especially in open concept rooms where there could be a lot of opposing styles happening.  While it can and should be a focal point, you don't want someone to walk into your newly decorated space and gasp because the rug is too overwhelming for your home.  You want this floor covering to tie the room together and anchor the space.

The most important things to remember when choosing a color and pattern for the dining room is that light colors will not mask stains.  And spills and spots are less likely to show up in a heavily patterned rug over a plain version. These tips are especially crucial to remember if you have small children or use this room regularly for meals.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Joanna Gaines


A dining room rug has the potential for seeing a lot of wear and tear from chairs and feet, plus spills are bound to happen when food and beverages are involved so it needs to be practical enough to survive everyday living under your dining table.

Look for a pile height of a 1/4 inch or less with a smooth surface that won't snag or pull.  You want a short pile or flat weave rug over a high pile or shag rug which are difficult to maneuver chairs overs and harder to clean when food inevitably lands on it.  High pile rugs will trap crumbs and debris falling from the table.

You also want to look for easy to clean materials.  Ideally, natural fibers like cotton or wool are a good choice and going to be easier to clean than synthetic materials.  Natural materials like jute or sisal are not a good idea in dining rooms because spills and crumbs are liked to get pushed even further into the fibers when cleaning them.  
There are now durable machine washable rugs available from companies like Ruggable that can be easily cleaned of spills.  They have printed designs in a variety of styles with geometric patterns, stripes and some are made to look like vintage rugs. 

Another option is to use an indoor/outdoor rug made to withstand scrubbing if you find a style you like.
Look for rugs that are stain resistant or spray them yourself with a fabric protector like Scotch Guard to make cleanup easier.  While either option will add to the cost of the rug upfront, they will length the lifespan of your investment in the long run.


Shopping for rugs online can be convenient because you can browse through thousands of choices and do side by side comparisons not just based on what they look like, but for what they are made out of, pile height, and more.  

You do need to be careful that you buy from reputable companies and pay attention to online reviews so that you don't get a "really great deal" that turns out to be a low quality rug that won't last.

Prices vary throughout different retailers.  Some of the major brands can be found at multiple online stores, but at dramatically different prices, so be sure to check around before buying.

Some of my favorite places to shop for stylish area rugs are:

Pottery Barn   |       Ruggable     |    Overstock

Target   |   Home Depot   |   Revival Rugs   

A few more things to think about....

  • Consider carpet tiles that can be made into whatever size you need and replaced if they get stained or dirty.  This can be especially helpful if you have an odd sized space or young children.

  • If table cannot be centered directly in the middle of the rug, opt for one with an all-over pattern and no border so that it isn't as noticeable.

  • Pick a rug that is the same shape as your dining room table to create symmetry.....round table, round rug; square table, square rug, rectangular table, rectangular rug.  

  • The same rule applies to the shape of your dining room - if you have a square shaped room you will likely find the proportion of a square table and square rug to be most appealing.

  • Try to avoid having the rug go under other furniture in the room if at all possible.

  • Don't forget about the rug pad.  Dining room rugs have a tendency to slide, wrinkle or fold up thanks to the sliding chairs and heavy traffic.  A rubber backed rug pad will keep the rug in place and eliminate the tripping hazard.  

Hopefully this post helps guide you to choosing the right rug for your own dining room. Please know that what is most important above and beyond all of these guidelines is that you find a rug (or any piece of furniture or accessory) that you love regardless of whether it falls within the boundaries of any design advice that you may receive.  Your personal style will ultimately lead you to the best choice for you.


THE SECRET TO DECORATING LIKE A PRO that will save you time and money


Tips for buying dining room rug

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