Home Staging Training: Rules about Rugs (and when to break them)

In our online home staging training course we discuss many aspects and rules about home decor, including the importance of rugs, and the rules surrounding their use. Rugs can add a lot of interest to a space, define the area, and help to create warmth. Used improperly, rugs can also entirely ruin a design plan.

Rules about rugs in home staging design

For the purposes of home staging (and most design and redesign situations), there are some standards for rug usage.

  • Dining room rugs should be two feet larger than the table in all directions. Considering the average dining room table is 4×6, the average dining room rug should be 8×10 (2 feet in each direction larger). This is large enough to allow diners to sit at the table, keeping all 4 feet on the rug.
  • Living room rugs should be anchored by at least one other piece of furniture than the coffee table. This is often a side chair, or the front two feet of a sofa. When the only furniture piece on top of it is the coffee table, or worse yet, none at all, it feels a bit like Aladdin’s magic carpet that will be ready to take off any moment.
  • Rugs should not be used on top of other rugs. When staging your home, don’t add an oriental on top of carpeting. Not only does it break the room up unnecessarily, it also may leave buyers wondering if there are stains underneath.
  • Unless you are in an apartment or very small space, area rugs smaller than 6×9 should be avoided. They are too small.
  • If floating a seating arrangement in a large room, the rug should be large enough that all the furniture sits upon it. This will help to define the space. Smaller rugs actually lend the idea that the furniture float is awkward.
  • Rugs should never splilt the visual plane. Generally this happens in door ways or the path through a room. The dining room is often a common area for this. If an 8×10 rug will cut into the walk way around the table and chairs, such that when you walk, one foot is on the rug and one on the hardwood floors, or if you have to stand close to the wall and walk around the rug, then remove it. It doesn’t work in the space.
Looking at this before photo, you can see that it indeed follows nearly all of the rules above (except rug size and possibly the last rule regarding splitting the visual planes, but that is assuming that anyone can actually walk between the side of the sofa and the slip covered chair to the right).
rules to follow for rugs when home staging training

Home staging rules get broken

As I often advise my home staging students when I’m teaching classes, there is an exception to every rule. Rules are made to be broken. Home staging is no exception.

home staging training rules about rugs

The after photo breaks many of the rules of using rugs. The rugs is not anchored by any other furniture. It’s even smaller than the previous rug which was already too small. Clearly even with the rules broken, this is a better choice both in area rug and furniture placement.

  • Switching out the rug to a smaller rug allowed for traffic to flow through the space without having to step on and off the rug. If the rug had been larger it probably would have encroached into traffic patterns, making the space feel crowded.
  • The red broke up the monotonous sea of blue, drawing your eye to the beauty of the hardwood floors.
  • Not anchoring the rug with additional furniture, helped keep the eye moving to the back of the space, showcasing how large the space was. Adding another chair to the side would have been great for conversation, but would have broken the movement of the eye.

Karen Otto of Home Star Staging, the home stager for this space, did a great job of transforming it. The room no longer feels cluttered and dated. Instead it feels bright and welcoming. She understood that even in breaking the rules, she was doing the right thing for this property and the customer’s budget. Knowing when to follow the rules and when to break them is a sign of understanding the purpose of the rules, not just following a formula or template – the mark of a true professional.

To learn more about home staging in the Plano, TX area, please contact Karen Otto of Home Star Staging.

Melissa Marro

About melissamarro

Melissa Marro is an international award winning home stager and professional speaker for the home staging and real estate industry. Founder and CEO for both SAR, Staging and Redesign Training and MRRE, Market Ready Real Estate's online home staging consultation program, Marro continues to help inspire and empower new and existing stagers as well as move the industry standards forward.


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