A rug anchors a room. A rug defines a room. A too small rug makes a room look choppy.   Size matters.  The subject is so important, that we will be posting and re-posting articles on this subject.

[A version of this article appeared in print in the April 2016 issue of Rug News andDesign Magazine.]

The author's empty living room.
The author’s empty living room 10.5′ x 12′.

The size of the rug in the room makes a big difference to how the room looks. But visualizing that difference when standing in the store is difficult, even for experts. We decided to create a side by side comparison of 4 different sized rugs in the same room. To achieve this, we wanted to use one rug design and color combination, which meant reaching out to Dalyn Rugs to loan us four rugs.

9' x 13' rug
9’x13′ Dalyn Rugs Ivory Studio SD5 in the author’s living room.

Dalyn loaned Rug News andDesign an Ivory Studio SD5 in 9×13, 8×10, 5×8, and 4×6 nominal sizes. I then spent an evening swapping out the rugs in my living room while trying to keep the camera, furniture, and rugs all in the same position.

My living room is 10.5 feet by 12 feet with a fireplace and the radiator encroaching. The camera was on a tripod about 70 inches off the ground. The lens was a 25mm lens mounted on a Nikon D610 35mm digital camera. I also used a high powered flash bounced off the ceiling to even out the light in the room.

8’x10′ Dalyn Rugs’ Ivory Studio SD5 in the author’s living room.

Right off the bat, the 9×13 is physically too large for the room. It was curling up against the radiator, jammed the front door which opens into the room, and was far too close to the fireplace for comfort. It might be hard to see the specific problems in the photo, but I think most people would say that the 8×10 rug was the best fit.

The 8×10 rug really was the perfect size for the room. In addition to actually fitting within the space, it was large enough for the chairs to fit on it. The sizing is such that you can see a “border” of flooring around the full rug and the pattern isn’t hidden.

5’x8′ Dalyn Rugs’ Ivory Studio SD5 in the author’s living room.

The 5×8 is a great size rug but in this room it doesn’t work. Because I was trying to maintain the positioning of the furniture exactly in each shot, the furniture arrangement draws attention to it being too small. In practice, I would probably arrange the room differently to better use this size, but the reality is that the rug is small and doesn’t work under the furniture.

The 4×6 rug is laughably small here. Again, it’s a great rug that works in other places just fine, but not as a central rug in this room.

4'x6' Dalyn Rugss Ivory Studio SD5 in the author's living room.
4’x6′ Dalyn Rugss Ivory Studio SD5 in the author’s living room.

Upon reflection, raising the camera higher and using a wider angle lens would allow these room shots to better show off the rugs. We aren’t advocating for one size over another, only trying to show how the size of a rug impacts a room. Ideally, with more time and manpower, we would do this test in different styles and types of rooms so that we could see the smaller carpets shining or the largest carpet looking small in a huge space.

We aren’t advocating for one size over another

Ultimately, we wish that every carpet design came with the rug in each size showcased in the same room so that we didn’t have to rely on our imaginations to fit them, but could point to the photos when trying to explain why the next size larger or smaller would be a better choice.