How to Pick Out the Perfect Dining Room Rug

A rug under the dining room table gives the room a finished look.

By Nancy Mattia

Buying a dining room rug isn’t like buying a rug for any other room: You have to consider things like the dining room table’s size and shape, which materials are stain-resistant, and whether or not your guests will be able to pull out a chair without the back legs coming off the rug. The right rug will absorb the sounds bouncing around the room and add decorative elements to the space like texture and color. Before shopping around, determine what you want the rug’s purpose to be — to make a statement, to blend in with the rest of the décor, or to unify the space?

Factor the following into your decision:


For the room to look balanced, the rug must extend well past the chairs. The rule of thumb is to have at least 29 inches (up to 59 inches) of extra room on all sides of the table (don’t forget to take the table leaf into account) so guests can easily pull out their chairs without the legs hitting the rug’s border.



Most often, people pick a rug that’s the same shape as the table (a rectangular rug with a rectangular table), which provides visual continuity. Consider that the center of the rug will mostly be obscured by the table and chairs so the most important part of the design becomes the [shape of the] border. But if you want to create a custom look, don’t match shapes. Round rugs are particularly popular at the moment and can work well under a square table.


Traditional rugs can be used in both contemporary and traditional homes in the same way that contemporary rugs can be used for traditional homes. There are no rules! Since they’re made to last for a very long time, choose a rug that you really love, like you would a piece of art.



While you can match the rug’s color to a pre-existing element in the room, such as the color of the dining room walls, many designers choose a rug first then use its colors as a starting point for choosing the rest of the accessories. Color is such a key feature of the room and helps tie the room together.


Because the dining room rug is where coffee and tomato sauce sometimes end up, it matters what your rug is made of. The best materials are natural fibers that are strong and easy to clean like wool and sisal. What to avoid: silk, which is too delicate for dining room traffic.


For a dining room, look for flat-weaves like dhurries and kilims or low-pile rugs — they clean up well after a spill and don’t offer much resistance when you pull your chair away to stand up. Pair a flat-weave with a rug pad, which helps keep the rug in place and offers some extra cushion.