How to choose a rug for under your dining room table

dining room with rug

Your dining room should be an inviting space that encourages everyone to gather together and share a meal, laughter, and some memories. If the table is the centerpiece of the room, think of the rug below it as the frame. The right one will give the perfect foundation to direct the color palette and style of the overall space. Finding the best match can be challenging. After all, it needs to look beautiful and be durable enough to stand up to the room’s purpose. Here, we offer the keys to finding one that will take your dining room from drab to delightful.

Size and shape

A rug’s design purpose is to designate the focal point by grounding what sits on top of it or around it. One of the biggest mistakes people make with a rug under their table is selecting one that is too small or too big. Generally, it should have approximately 24 inches on all sides to accommodate people pulling out chairs.

  • Before ordering, measure and make sure the rug will work with any other furniture in the room. One way to do this is by pulling the chairs out to be where they would be if people were eating at the table. Then, use masking or painter’s tape to outline a few inches beyond chairs. Finally, measure the tape’s length and width, and determine which standard rug size most closely matches it.
  • Also, be sure to measure how long your table will be when the leaves are in and accommodate that in your sizing.
  • In addition to thinking about how the size relates to the table, you will also want to keep the room itself in mind. Since this is an area rug, it is not meant to go all the way to the walls. Generally speaking, you want at least 6 to 18 inches of floor showing around the rug.

For shape, a good rule of thumb is to mirror the table’s silhouette—rectangular, square, or circular. This will ensure balance and symmetry, which are two of the most important elements in a design.

What’s your type?

The kind of rug you choose also makes a big difference.

  • For practical reasons, one with a small pile — or a flat fiber density — is best in a dining room. Save high pile for bedrooms and living rooms. Not only will this prevent food crumbs from getting trapped, but it will also make it easier to pull chairs in and out.
  • Since this rug is more susceptible to spills and messes, you will want to select one made of easy-to-clean materials. Cotton and wool tend to be better for home cleaning than synthetic. Another good option is indoor/outdoor rugs; they come in an array of styles and can be scrubbed if needed. Natural fiber rugs like sisal and jute may give a beautiful neutral backdrop to some rooms but are not the best choice for dining rooms since wiping them can cause food and messes to permeate further into them.
  • It goes without saying that the dining room is also not the place for a pristine white rug—darker or patterned ones will hide stains better.
white dining room with beige rug
Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

Design around it

Rugs are often the foundation of a room’s decor, but this is even more true in a dining room. Since the table and chairs are the main event, there is less opportunity to bring fabrics and accessories in. The biggest pieces are often made of wood or other neutral materials. The rug allows you to bring color in and tie elements such as wall paint and curtains together.

  • If your rug will not be centered in the room, stay away from ones with a border. Instead, look for one with a bold, sweeping pattern. Visually, this will move the eye around the room. Another trick is if the floor in the space is in bad condition, a bold, visually stimulating rug will draw attention away from it.
  • Many homes today have open floor plans. While these layouts are great for entertaining, you must ensure it complements the overall design when you decorate one area. Rugs are a great way to specify different zones in an expansive room, but they should incorporate the same colors and style as the other spaces.

Dining rooms are often the places in homes where some of the biggest moments occur. It is a place where family and friends come together. By adding in elements like rugs that give it a warm and welcoming aesthetic, you can create a space that your guests will remember.

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