Q: What is the deal with the standard rug sizes for area rugs? I have an irregular-shaped living room: It's really long and narrow, and I don't know what size I should buy.
A: Rugs are a beautiful way to add an inviting touch, a lived-in feel, and color into any room whether you have wood, tile or stone floors or carpet. From bright colors to soft, neutral solids to sophisticated and fun patterns, it's won't be hard to find perfect area rugs to fit your style. As you discovered, choosing the right size can be a very different story.
Most area rugs come in standard sizes that seem to have nothing to do with typical sizes of rooms. This is because there really isn't a typical room size. In the United States, rugs are measured in feet and the most common sizes are: 9 by 12, 8 by 10, 5 by 9, 4 by 6, 3 by 4 or 5 and 2 by 3. Yes, you can get larger rugs, but, wow, you'll need help loading one of those. And when you are planning out your room, remember, 2 by 3 is the same as a lot of posters! Buy the largest one you can afford.
Some handmade rugs are close to these standard dimensions, some are quite different. For your irregular room, a handmade rug might be perfect but it might take a while. An easy way to find out your "dream" size is to outline with rope, string or tape the size you think will look best, and measure that. If you can't find any existing area rugs with those dimensions, visit a carpet store and ask about having a piece of carpet cut and finished to the exact size you need!
If your rug is a little small, such as a 4 by 6, it can still work. Place it with the long side centered on your sofa. That might give you clear floor under two chairs across from the sofa. If the rug is bigger, hide part of it under the sofa, or have an equal amount of floor showing on at least three sides of the rug. Feel free to adjust until it looks right to you.
With area rugs, there is really only one rule. If it looks good to you, it is good! Let me know what you find!