Buyer's Guide: How to Size a Vintage Rug for Your Living Room

Rugs are essential to every home -- they offer warmth and character, and they ground each living space. But rug placement can be tricky, particularly if you are considering a vintage rug. Designer rug guides recommend standard rug sizes, but vintage rugs are rarely a perfect 8x10 or 9x12. If you think you need a 9x12, will an 8'3" x 11'5" rug do? Is a 10' x 12' better?

I get more questions about vintage rug sizing than just about anything else. So, I scoured the internet, compiled guidance from several designers including Studio McGee and Emily Henderson, studied other and modified them to apply to vintage rugs.  Check out these living room tips below! 

1 - Finalize the Layout and Spacing of Your Living Room Furniture First.

The spacing of your furniture should generally increase with the scale of your overall living room. In a large room, the last thing you want is for your furniture to feel cramped in a corner. Measure the spaces between your couch, coffee table, and other seating and follow these general rules of thumb to finalize the scale of your layout:

  • Small living room: 18 - 24" walkway between major furniture
  • Medium living room: 24 - 36" walkway between major furniture
  • Large living room or great room: 30-36" walkway between major furniture



via Amber Interiors

2 - Using Your Larger Furniture as a Guide, Determine the Minimum Dimensions for Your Vintage Rug

To Determine Minimum Width:

The front legs of all seating should be fully on your vintage rug. (The back legs can be, too, if your rug is big enough to accommodate it.) To avoid your furniture looking like it is grasping onto the edge of the rug for dear life, aim to have several inches of rug underneath the front legs of all seating. More overlap is ideal for bigger spaces. Here are some common rules of thumb:

  • Small living room: at least 5" under front legs 
  • Medium/Large living room: at least 6" under front legs

Emily Henderson Design - vintage rug living room

via Style by Emily Henderson

If your living room is in a larger open floor plan, you may wish to use your rug to clearly define the living space. In this case, all furniture can be be completely on the rug (seating, side tables, everything). In this case, think about maintaining a perimeter that extends past the backs of your seating, so that no furniture is teetering on the edge. Emily Henderson recommends at least 8 inches of border beyond the sofa back, but Amber Interiors regularly gets away with a little less. Feel free to take some liberties here. 

via Proem Studio
Take a piece of painter's tape and mark your ideal rug's overlap underneath your furniture legs. Measure from one piece of tape to another to know your vintage rug's minimum width.

To Determine the Minimum Length:

Most rugs are oriented lengthwise in a room, parallel to the length of your couch.  Be sure that your rug extends at least 8 inches beyond the length of your sofa on each side. 

3 - Measure The Maximum Dimensions For Your Rug Based on its Distance From your Living Room Walls.

The biggest factor determining the maximum dimensions of your vintage rug is how close to the walls you want your rug to be. An oversized choice can overwhelm the space and look more like a wall-to-wall carpet. We recommend leaving the following space between the edge of your rug and the walls:

  • Small living room: at least 5" from the wall
  • Medium living room: 10 - 24" from the wall
  • Large living room or great room: 18-24" from the wall

Jean Stoffer Design vintage rug living room

via Jean Stoffer Design

Now, You're Ready to Shop with confidence!

With your minimum and maximum rug dimensions, you can shop empowered and informed on what will work for your space. We encourage you to browse our latest large rugs, or reach out if you need help sourcing something specific.

Pin this graphic for ease of reference, and happy shopping!

District Rug Shoppe Vintage Rug Sizing Guide

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