Determine the Correct Size Rug for a Sectional Couch

Sectional couches have taken over our screens on HGTV, Pinterest and even in our local furniture stores such as Big Lots. What’s not to love about an oversized sofa, perfect for a movie night in or for seating a large family? Whether you’re furnishing a brand-new home or redesigning a living space, there are several factors that go into decorating around a sectional couch.

correct size rug for sectional couch

One of the most commonly asked design questions (and perhaps one of the most common design failures) is choosing a rug size appropriate for its space. Let’s talk about determining the correct size rug for a sectional couch.


The First Step in Choosing the Correct Size Rug

The first step in determining the proper rug size is to choose your desired layout for the space. The two most popular ways to style a rug for a sectional are to either position the couch with all couch legs centered on the rug , or to position the couch so only the front legs are on the rug.

A sectional positioned with all legs on the rug.
A sectional positioned with only its front legs on the rug.

If you choose option A, the rule of thumb is to choose a rug that extends on all sides of the couch and coffee table by at least 6”. If you choose option B, it is best to choose a rug size that allows only the front legs of all seating furniture to be on the rug. Both of these options allow for a cohesive look in your living space.

Need an example? Let’s break this down.

Example #1

Let’s say you want your couch and coffee table to be positioned with all legs on the rug. If your sectional consists of two, 8’ wide by 40” deep couches, your coffee table measures 4’ around, and you’re leaving the recommended 18 inches of space between the two, the perfect rug size would be at least 118” x 108”. This allows for all legs to be on the rug and for a 6” extension on all sides of the layout.

This is a great option for folks who have a large living space to fill and/or aren’t thrilled to show off their flooring for one reason or another.

Example #2

Let’s say you want your couch to be positioned with only the front legs on the rug. If your sectional consists of two, 8’ wide by 40” deep couches, your coffee table measures 4’ around, and you’re leaving the recommended 18 inches of space between the two, the perfect rug size would be at least 98” x 88”. This allows for the front legs of the sectional to be on the rug and for a 6” extension on the sides of the coffee table.

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This is a great option for folks who have limited space, who want to show off their beautiful hardwood flooring, or even for those who may have a tighter budget for rugs (the bigger the rug, the pricier the tag.)

What about a U-shaped sectional?

U-shaped sectionals have become increasingly popular, probably due to the spike in interest in modular sofas such as LoveSac. So, where does the area rug come in? Designing a space around a large, U-shaped sectional does affect the layout some.

Designers recommend either choosing a very small rug to fit snugly in the “U” of the sectional, or sizing up to the largest rug possible that allows the couch to fit all legs on it. For example, consider a 4’x6’ rug as a smaller option and a 12’x18’ rug as a larger option. Unless your living space is quite large and can accommodate a 12’x18’ rug and still leave room for space between the rug and the walls, a 4’x6’ is an excellent contender.

Are there other options to consider?

If none of these options so far suit your fancy, one more popular option is to place a small rug centered under your coffee table or ottoman.

Wayfair, one of the rulers of the buying-furniture-online kingdom, suggests considering a rug just for the coffee table that sits in front of the couch. This is a reasonable option for someone who has a tight budget, a narrow living space, or already-beautiful and protected flooring that doesn’t require a massive rug.

What other factors should I consider when choosing an area rug for my sectional?

Instead of worrying about the dimensions of the sectional, consider the dimensions of the room.

For instance, if your room is narrow, consider placing a narrower area rug to proportionally fill the space. Once the rug is down, you can then play with the sectional pieces and arrange them on the rug using one of the methods we’ve already discussed.

Looking for a quick reference as to which rug size fits proportionally to your room? Here are a few by-the-book recommendations featured by Overstock.


5’X7’ 3’x5’
7’x10’ 5’x8’
10’x12’ 8’x10’
11’x14’ 9’x12’
14’x17’ 12’x15’

Contrary to popular belief, your rug should not cover your entire floor.

Regardless of the size of your sectional, be sure to leave some of your flooring showing (even if it’s not beautiful, brand-new hardwoods). Ruggable suggests leaving 12-18 inches of space between your rug and your wall.

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If you’re choosing a smaller rug, be careful not to go too small.

Ideally, the width of your rug will measure a few inches longer than the width of your couch or sectional. If you do choose a rug that allows several feet of space between the rug and the wall, don’t be afraid to play with space fillers such as plants, pottery, floor mirrors, large artwork, a small table, a bookshelf, or a basket. Adding these design touches will help make the size of your rug less noticeable.

Tape a “mock rug” on the floor before you purchase a new rug.

Most people can agree that rugs are an expensive purchase (and sometimes even a luxury). Before you shell out a few hundred dollars on the rug of your dreams, make a “mock rug” at home to determine the correct size. An easy way to do this is by using masking tape to outline where a rug will potentially go within your space.

Simply place masking tape around your sectional couch, wherever you think a rug would fit well. Once you have the dimensions exactly the way you want them, measure your template. Use this template when shopping for your rug.

Taking 15 minutes to do this can help save you time, a headache, and potentially cash. This is especially helpful when purchasing a rug online, without the benefit of seeing the size in person.

When in doubt, go big!

If you’re between two sizes, always choose the larger one. Folks often underestimate the appropriate rug size for their space and furniture. Although the lesser price tag can be tempting, it’s usually worth the investment to upgrade to a larger size, as rugs truly do make or break a space.

Want to venture out and get a little creative with your layout?

Here are a few simple ways to add some character to your living space.

Think outside the box.

Test out a different shaped rug other than a rectangle. If you’re up for experimenting with your style, try a circular shaped rug to lay under your sectional and coffee table. A little design tweak like this can make an ordinary space feel a little more unique.

Layer multiple rugs.

This is a trend that became popular in recent years and has several benefits. If you’re styling a large space but don’t have the budget or interest in spending hundreds of dollars on a massive area rug, reuse two rugs you already own.

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The biggest factor in this trend is to make sure the rugs complement one another. You don’t want to use two rugs that both are screaming for attention. Instead, it’s best to use two neutral-toned rugs or to pair one colorful rug with a more subtle rug. Jute rugs make a great base layer for your living space, especially if you plan to experiment with a colorful top option.

Consider a textured rug.

If you’re decorating around a traditional microfiber or polyester sectional couch, think about purchasing a textured rug underneath. The most popular textured rugs include jute, cotton, faux fur, wool, shag and cowhide. This can really elevate a space and pull-out textures from other decorations in the room such as vases or paintings.

textured rug

Experiment with positioning your rug at an angle, rather than perfectly straight.

This is a great technique to use when you’re working with a rug that is a bit too small for your space. Angling the rug under furniture can help add a little more style to your space and make the actual size of the rug less noticeable.

Don’t forget the rug pad

Rug pads can often feel like a product that you don’t actually need, like Apple Care when you buy a new Mac computer. However, just like when a computer breaks, there will most likely come a time when you wished you had a rug pad.

There are few things more annoying than constantly tripping over your bunched-up rug, or fixing your Roomba when it gets stuck sweeping the corner of a rug. Rug pads not only help stabilize your rug, they also act as added protection to your floor and elongate the lifespan of your rug. We already know how expensive rugs can be; we want you to get your money’s worth!

Think of rug pads as a floor equivalent to mattress pads. Different pads serve different purposes. For instance, some have more cushion, offering more support for areas where users may sit or stand on the rug for long periods of time. Pads without cushioning are great for low-profile areas such as rugs that need to fit under the swing of a door.

If you’ve invested this much time and money into upgrading your sectional/rug situation, you might as well exhaust all options to make it worth every penny.