How to Choose the Best Rug Shape for your Space

/ interior design / related-hand-knotted-rugs-under-100

Did you know rug shaping is serious business?

Choosing the wrong shape and size for a space can make it look awkward or cause impractical annoyances.

I've found that many people asking for advice about rugs are concerned about one thing besides their rug's size...and that thing is shape.

Can a circular rug work in a living room, you ask? How do you pick a shape for a sectional, a foyer, a bathroom?

When I was researching for this post, I quickly realized how many tips there are for choosing your rug shape.

There are not set "rules" that I could find...and ones that did seem like rules always had an exception.

There's a massive conglomeration of "stuff you should maybe do" to pick the right shape for your rug...So how do you give advice for something that seems so case-by-case?

Well, I'm going to give case-by-case examples! I'll give you a room, a space, a situation and some advice about what shape may... or may not... work.

None of these "rules" are super cutthroat--you can break a lot of them.

Leave me a comment below if you're still having trouble with your rug shape,

and I'll give you even more specific case-by-case advice!

Here are my ten somewhat-random, somewhat-inspired rug shape tips/tricks/not-rules/stuff, in no particular order...

General Rug Shape Considerations

Because your rug's shape affects the overall aesthetics of the room!

dining room


  • whimsical, playful, cozy, and soft
  • use in a small space to make it feel larger
  • pair with similar shapes (furniture, chandelier)
  • offset rectangles
  • use in a circular room
  • generally don't use in larger spaces


  • use in a square room
  • pair with square-shaped tables
  • pair two or more square rugs

orange square rug


  • traditional
  • good for large spaces (living rooms, seating areas, office...)
  • great for when you need something long and thin, like a hallway runner or a kitchen rug


Before you start shopping, remember to...

Floor layout


Arrange your seating area BEFORE you measure for your rug.

By doing this, you can figure out the exact size you need, and size up from there!

Check out all of our tips for choosing the right size rug for your home here and here


8 Case-by-Case Examples!

1. Bay Window Breakfast Nook

Bay windows are so beautiful...but how to do you design you home around them?

Many people choose to use their beautiful bay window as a breakfast nook.

Bay windows let in a wonderful amount of light, and eating your toast and OJ in the sun in the perfect way to wake you up and start your day!

Alice Lane Home - dining rooms - Oly Studio Serena Drum Chandelier, Oly Studio Luca Dining Table, bay window: to you choose a rug for a bay window?

The bay window's geometric shape creates the perfect amount of space for a little round table.

Even though a bay window has geometric angles, the trapezoidal shape is "circular" in nature. Since a circular table works best with a bay window,

I suggest pairing it with a circular rug!

They say life happens around the kitchen table, and I have to agree. I love the circular feel of this dining space. It reminds me that families, like circles, never end. The windows all around showcase the beautiful landscaping of the world we're teaching our children to contribute to. The window seat provide a perfect spot to start the morning with a cup of coffee and a Bible study. Life is good.:

Be careful, though.

Circular rugs for dining areas are tricky because it's easy to chose one that's too small! Measure the diameter of your circular table and add at least 30 inches to determine the diameter your rug should be.

The trick is to make sure that when you back up your chair to stand up, your chair doesn't fall off your rug!

Another interesting idea for a bay window would be to have a trapezoidal table.

window seat

Without the window seat, a table like this could be paired with a few chairs and a round rug!

2. Sectional Sofa Seating Area

It's generally accepted that the best way to accent a sectional sofa or a large living room seating area is with a large, rectangular rug.

The trick with these seating areas is to make sure that at least the front legs of each piece of furniture is able to sit on the rug.

Available as a left or right sectional. Shown with additional round accent pillow(sold separately).:

Choose a large rectangular rug.

A rug that is too small can make the room feel awkward and disjointed.

Rustic modern/industrial living room. Brick wall accent, L shaped grey sofa, wood coffee table and Persian rug.:

I really love the style of the room above, but the two smaller rectangular rugs make it feel like several weird seating areas.

The chair, side tables, sofa, and coffee table should feel like one unified space, but these rugs make the room feel separate and cold.

small+living+room+arrangements+for+sectional | Sofa Living Room Furniture | Brookstone | Sofa Sectional Living Room ...:

Likewise, this rectangular rug is misplaced and way too small for this sectional.

Even if it was put in the right place (aaaalllllll the way under that sofa), it would be far too small and would look awkward.

If you're going to get a rug that's too little, it might be better not to get one at all. Even if a rectangular rug is the traditional choice, you can always shake things up with a circular rug.

There are a few different ways to go about this... If you have a large seating area in a nice open space, go big or go home.

MINOTTI ADV 2012 2013 - Federico Cedrone - Photographer:

See how this large circular rug centers the room and creates a focal point?

It works so well because all of the furniture is arranged on top of it and it plays on the shape of the side table and ottoman.

A smaller round rug works with a sectional if your space is smaller. Somehow, the soft curves of the round rug make a small space feel bigger.

I have this coffee table already. And the L-shaped couch would fit nicely with its back to the wall of my living room. Not sure I'd want to "block" the bottom part of my floor-to-ceiling window with the other section of the couch, but I do like the idea of the layout. It would be perfect for filming my home-based talk show that I'm always thinking about starting.:

Another idea for a small space is sticking a small round rug in the corner of a sectional to add a pop of color and interest.

cute corner

Such a cute little seating area!

And what makes it so "cute?"

The circle!


3. The Foyer

An open entryway or foyer has endless rug options. Large rectangular rugs and circular rugs both look gorgeous, depending on the size of the foyer and any accessories.

Rectangular rugs create a classic look. They make your foyer feel larger and longer,

trend we love: pink kilim rugs (forever!) |

They can make a thin entryway feel more open and bright.

The thin, long tugs above and below add interest to the floor and depth (and color!) to the entryway. I love how these rugs match the chandelier above.

The light fixture's geometric patterns are well suited to the tribal design.

Love this entry! Such a smartly designed space. Love the rug, the front door, the entry table, love it all! Home+Tour:+A+California+Eclectic+Home+in+Silicon+Valley+via+@domainehome:

My "rule" for rectangular rugs in foyers is to place them so that they lead you into the house.

If your foyer is long, do not place your rug horizontally. That will make your foyer feel short and enclosed, when you want it to feel welcoming.

I personally love a round rug in foyer to define a vignette in an entryway,

colorful rug

Or in an open foyer space.

Paired with a circular table, the rug in the space below makes the foyer feel even bigger.

entrance hall



Paired with the winding staircase, the rounded chandelier above, and the curved doorway, the rug is a great way to accent the neutral floor.

A winding staircase creates the perfect backdrop for a circular rug in your foyer, the rug will accent the staircase's curves, creating a soft, luxurious space.

sweeping stairs

The rug you choose for your foyer can go either way!

Rectangle or circle, make sure to take your whole entryway into account.

If it's more open, I suggest a large circle rug; if it's narrow and skinny, a thin rectangle will look wonderful!

Make sure to pair your rug choice with accents that match, like the starburst table topper above!

4. Two seating areas

When you have a large living room, it sometimes makes sense to create two separate seating areas.

Family Home with Classic Transitional Interiors - "Living Room Furniture Layout":

This breaks up the space so that it still feels open, but completely used.

Otherwise, there would be a small sitting space in a big room, and that would just be awkward.

The biggest question that comes with doing multiple seating areas is...what kind of rugs can I use?

Can I mix and match shapes or should I stick with the same?

Or should I just use one (ginormous) rug?

Choosing two of the same shape, or two of the same rug entirely, can indeed create a cohesive space

 Bench connects two seating spaces and leave the room visually open. Perfect for entertaining spaces.:

The two neutral rugs above are great in this warm, minimalist room.

Because the design style is so simple, two of the same rug is a perfect choice.

multiple seating area | large windows | hanging pendant lighting:

Similarly, in the room above,

the same rug is used twice because the seating areas are practically the same. But what if we're feeling eclectic?

What if we reaaaallllyyyy want to mix and match our rugs?

My vote? Go for it.

If you have two seating areas of different sizes, why not put a large rectangular rug under the large one and a circular rug under the smaller one?

If you want your seating areas to feel like separate entities, going eclectic would be fun and quirky!

On the opposite end, if you want the two seating areas to still feel (somewhat) unified, you could do two different rectangular rugs!

rectangular rugs

5. Dining Room

The dining room is one of the areas rug buyers have the most trouble with.

Many people wonder what shape and size to pair with certain tables, and I'm here to help!


the best kind of rugs for dining room are flatweave or very low pile,

like this Kilim Dhurrie rug

brown rug

Flatweave rugs are the best for dining rooms because they're the easiest to move chair on.

If the rug has a higher pile, your chairs will get snagged and you'll be stuck at you table forever, basically.

The most basic rule for pairing a rug

with a dining room table is to pair it with a rug of the same shape.


rectangle with rectangle

traditional dining room

square with square

circle with circle.

circular dining room


The size of dining room rugs is really important, no matter the size.

If your rug is too small, your chairs will slide off the edge of the rug when you move your chair back. See how the space above has PLENTY of space to sit back and relax?

Trust me, tripping up on a rug will get very old very fast.

But what if you want to switch it up?

You definitely can!

Pair a circular rug with a rectangular table...

I’m not sure if I ever said it here on the blog, but ever since we moved into our Michigan house almost two months ago we have been on the hunt for a dining room table. We couldn’t use our amazing farmhouse table from our last two houses because this dining room is so small …

Or vice-versa...

black theme

It all depends on sizing the rug correctly and creating a cohesive flow with accessories and the lines of your furniture.

6. Bathroom

The typical bath mat is a small rectangle, though those can be livened up with lots of color:

Quirky bathroom touches ~ love the bunting. {A Lovely Little World}:

Or if you've got a huge bathroom, you can add some awesome detail with a larger rug, like this oriental:

contemporary bathroom
Here is a similar RugKnots favorite that would go perfectly in a bathroom because of its soft blues
Blue and Tan Ikat Rug 8


If you're really loving circular rugs, a really unique place to add one is to a bathroom!

Anthropologie round rug in bathroom

Add a little whimsy or a bohemian flair by choosing a circular rug for your bathroom

green bathroom

I love how soft and fun these rugs make their bathrooms...

white bathroom

Ok, that one might be a bit too small....


7. Kid's Room/Nursery

Quite simply, circular rugs are a favorite for children's rooms and nurseries!

Because of their playful, whimsical nature, children's rooms are the perfect place to put circle rugs!


There is a quirky, fun vibe that only circular rugs can bring!

And that quirkiness is so great in a space dedicated to little ones.

How awesome is the wave rug above?

(Hint: SO awesome)

A lifestyle corner and Imps + Elves + Friends in Amsterdam.:

The simple rug above still adds a bit of whimsy to a little boy's room!

And I love the Scandanavian flair of the decor...and the concrete flooring.

Basically I'm going to find that house and live in it...


That's not to say that rectangular rugs don't look great in kid's rooms too, though.

quirky bedroom

This orange and white polka dot rug is just as playful as the circular ones above...though it does still have circles on it...coincidence?

8. Little Corner Nook

I also love the look of rugs in little corner nooks. These small seating areas are such a fun way to add some practical design to your home.

round blue rug

My favorite rug for the nook is a circular rug.

This bright blue rug goes so well with the otherwise white room, playing off the chair and the table legs.

This is really making most out of a small corner! perfect set up for a sunroom or small nook in the house:

Lovely little nook!

what an adorable little dining room and the exposed brick, sigh.:

Nooks are already fun, but adding a circular rug just adds to the excitement!

BONUS | Design Dilemma - Extending Table

I was thinking of all the possible troubles one could have with choosing a rug when I thought of the issue of extending tables.

I have a dining room table that extends to nearly twice its size on family occasions...but what kind of rug do I put under it? Do I choose a rug that will fit -most- of the time? Or one that's oversized?

traditional dining room rug

oval dining room

Formal layout


What do you think? Let me know!


Hopefully one of these situations is similar to yours and my advice has helped a bit!

If not, please do leave me a comment below if you're still having trouble! I'll reply post-haste with my advice!


Some beautiful circular rugs

red circular rug

black circular rug

Pink circular rug


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  • I have a 10×17 bedroom with nice hardwood floors. As you come into bedroom I have 2 stuffed lazyboy chairs facing door and wall with tv on wall and a round traditional chandelier in center sort of between chairs. Bed is over to left side of room. I would like to place a circular rug 7’6" to fit under both chairs almost extending to doorway. It will extend to about 15" away from bed edge. Will the circular rug work?

    Cynthia on

  • I have a large living area that combines the dining area. Can I use a rectangular rug in the living area. I have an oval dining table and want to put an oval rug under the tabe. Would these clash in the same room?

    Maureen Myers on

  • I have a 12 by 17 den. And a large sofa and chair with rectangler coffee table two side tables. Can I put an round area rug down there and what size would I get

    Madeline Donaldson on

  • Great advice! Glad I stumbled across your page. I have a square 14 × 14 dining room. My oval table extends to 102 inches. Do I go with a square or rectangular rug?

    Laura on

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