My Area Rug Is Too Small! Now What?



Dear Laurel,

We just moved from the city to the burbs and our new family/living room is about 50% larger. In the old living room our 6 x 9 area rug was just the right size.


However, now, the area rug is too small!


It looks like a postage stamp! We love the rug and it was my Mom’s and has great sentimental value.

Do you have any ideas of how to make this rug work?

Dhurrie Weaver


Dear Dhurrie,

This is one of my favorite “problems!” As a matter of fact, it’s such a great look that sometimes, we do this intentionally! We take a smaller area rug, usually a hand-knotted Oriental rug and layer it over a larger sea grass rug. In between the area rug and sea grass rug, there is a pad, so that the area rug doesn’t get wrecked.

Why a sea grass rug?


That is an excellent question! Here are the reasons sea grass is so great:

  • it is one of the most durable fibers around.
  • it is inherently stain repellant

My clients who have them, all rave about their sea grass rugs! “It is the most practical rug in the home,” a client once told me. She has four children and two hyper-manic dogs. I’ve had clients who used one in their dining room. No problem. Easy to maintain.

  • it comes in a width of 13′-1″ That extra 13″ sometimes comes in very handy as typical broadloom is only 12 feet wide.
  • it is very economical
  • it’s just so darned good-looking; very, very stylish and an enduring classic.

211Tammy Connor

Actually, I don’t think this is sea grass. It looks to be jute. Jute is also a terrific material and can be used instead of sea grass. Sisal, another natural fiber is not recommended, however. While it looks great, it does stain easily!


Here is a job that’s in progress where we added the sea grass and lovely linen draperies. Everything else in the room was done by the clients before I got there. We are planning on replacing the coffee table with a cool ottoman. We’re also going to be adding two end tables/lamps and a beautiful piece for under the TV as well as some great throw pillows, etc.

This is off-topic, but since we’re here, I want to explain the furniture placement. Yes, it’s unusual in that the sofa is not facing the fireplace. Here’s our thinking. The clients did not want their TV over the fireplace. In addition, the sectional did not work, when turned around. If I was designing the room from scratch, I would’ve most likely done it differently. However, while unusual, it is not always necessary to center the furniture around the fireplace.

I mean, if Stephen Sills can do it, so can we!


And more importantly, the client’s room has such a gracious sense of entrance. This is a family gathering area which is about relaxing, watching TV and playing games; not just staring at a pretty fireplace. In addition, if at all possible, I prefer that the TV isn’t the first thing one sees when they walk in the room. Sometimes it’s unavoidable and that’s okay too. All in all, it felt like the best solution for this young family of four. Our focal point is going to be a gorgeous cabinet and TV on the wall you can’t see.


Back to the sea grass and the area rug which is too small. Here are some helpful tips.
  • the rug must be larger than the smaller area rug by a minimum of one foot  but more is better.
  • A margin of wood [or stone] floor showing of about 1 – 2 feet is good
  • Try to avoid situations for major traffic areas where one might have to walk half-on and half-off the rug. It should be one or the other. This goes for all area rugs. You need an absolute minimum of 2 feet of rug or floor path, but the rule is 3 feet.

For more post about mixing rugs click here.

And this is a good post about rugs on stairs and what to avoid

Which fiber is better wool or nylon.


I hope that helped you with your rug problem Dhurrie.



8th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2021 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

20 Responses

  1. This is such a helpful post. The idea is great and your specific guidance is so appreciated!

  2. Can one apply this ‘seagrass rug’ technique in the bedroom also?
    Or rather– how does one apply it well?

    The main floor master is 12 by 14 and I have a four-poster bed. I have a lovely 6 by 8 oriental rug -I love the pattern -the dog
    loves the plush soft feel of it.

    Can the math even work?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Barbara,

      I think so, but am not positive. My bedroom is a similar size and I have a 6 x 9. It is a little small. Optimal would be 8 x 10.

      Perhaps get some graph paper and do a scale drawing of your room, using rectangles for furniture, rug and place doorways and windows where they belong.

  3. Glad to find this piece about area rugs with your search box, but alas nothing on a “round” area rug. Is that a HUGE no-no? Are they just too weird? Would it look like a large pancake or lily pad in my 15′ wide living room? I love the look of the smaller rug on the seagrass rug, but how does one clean seagrass after a pet upchucks on same? I love my dark hardwood floors and hate to cover them, yet, I feel and area rug or two would bring the room together and give it the warmth and comfort I am looking for. As always, your blog is an inspiration. PS I have contacted a designer to help with my shotgun house … waiting on pins & needles for a follow up call.

    1. Hi Betty,

      Good for you using the search box! And it’s true. I’m not a fan of round rugs. The only exception would be a design that is meant to be round, not a design that’s adapted from a rectangular rug. But still, if a round rug will work, then so will a square rug.

      There is are cleaners for natural fibers that you can get, but yes, you’ll need to get to it quickly. I would first blot up everything that you can and then one would have to excise the rest. You can use something damp on seagrass, but not sisal unless you get the entire thing wet.

      1. Thanks Laurel, I was at Sherwin Williams today and referred to you, ahem, by name to the color designer. I told her she should check out your blog. I have learned so much reading through your blog and can’t thank you enough. You are my “go” to when I am questioning a design issue. You have to love pets, they make everything a challenge and then curl up next to you and cuddle. Have a lovely evening … oh yes, the big design call is this Friday, I’ve made notes using your articles. Fingers crossed that he and I will connect.

        1. Good luck with the designer on Friday. It sounds like you are well-prepared.

          I miss my kitty so much! It’s been 20 months since he passed, and I still think I’m hearing him and seeing him out of the corner of my eye sometimes.

  4. What a gorgeous room by Tammy Connor!
    Any guesses as to what the wall colors are?

    1. Hi Brenda, It looks like Venetian plaster and the color– is most likely custom-created. But even if I knew, I can guarantee that what you are seeing on your computer monitor is not what it would be in real life.

      1. Hi Laurel…..thank you for taking the time to respond! Such a long-shot, but that room is now my inspiration for our new home…soon to be built. In addition to your color palette, containing rolling hills, gray mirage, etc..
        feels like they would all live happily together there. We lived in Belgium for eight years, and of course I have a few pieces of tapestry. The colors coordinate so well!
        Love your blog, and esp was looking forward to hearing about your trip to Italy. So sorry you were sick after the trip,

        1. Hi Brenda,

          Thanks so much! Believe it or not, I still have days where I’m not 100% with the sinus thing. Today is a good day though.

  5. Re Seagrass rugs: must they always be bound! I definitely want Seagrass (3’in fact) but would rather have natural edges. I saw leather binding but super expensive. Thanks.

    1. Hi Marilyn,

      Yes they must be bound, because they can unravel which isn’t a nice look. They do have a backing, but over time the edges can become frayed.

  6. Hi Laurel 🙂
    Does your recommendation to leave a 1-2 ft margin apply to all rooms, even smaller ones? My husband’s study is 12’x12′ and I want to buy a seagrass rug. I can get a 10’x10’rug for around $330, which is a great price. But because the room is on the smaller side, would it look better to leave a margin of just 6″ for the room? That would mean a custom rug at ..$850.Ouch..

    1. Hi Dolores,

      Great questions. The answer is… It depends. I don’t like case pieces sitting half on and half off the rug if at all possible. If the case pieces are built-in and then the room is 12 x 12 I would not have more than a one foot margin around the room. If there will be case pieces that aren’t built in, then the 10 x 10 sounds perfect!

      1. Thank you, Laurel :-)No more built-ins- they were taken out when our daughter went off to school many years ago, now it also functions as a sort of guest room for her when she returns home for holidays, eliciting good natured grumbles from her Dad that she should use another bedroom in the house and leave him his ‘office’:-)
        Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving, enjoy every moment!

  7. Thanks for stopping by Taylor. Love your blog!

    Hi Loi! It always makes my day when you stop by and comment. And yes, I’ve been doing a lot of “dear Laurel” posts, because it’s a great way to express common problems and then give the solution.

    As for the paint. I assume you’re talking about interior shutters? It’s funny, but in all of my years, no one has ever done them. There have been some jobs where they are already there, but they didn’t need to be painted. And I’ve had a couple who nearly died when they found out the price and then opted for wood blinds instead. xo, Laurel

    ps: can’t wait to see more of your home in Maine!

    If we’re talking about high gloss or even semi-gloss, we’re probably talking about latex. UGHUGHUGH!!! It’s very hard to get alkyd house paint in NY. I don’t know about other states. I always say… Hey, go to Cairo, Mumbai, etc. and then let’s talk…

    Anywho, I never thought about that, but am seeing a lot of very glossy trim work these days and have to say that if it’s crisp and clean, it’s a very nice look. So, it’s probably better for new shutters or at least not more than one previous coat of paint. And of course, oil based paint if at all possible.

    Yes, the latex gloss paints are better, but there’s nothing like oil for a rich luster.

  8. Layered and lovely!! Great solution. I hope you make this a new series, Laurel. Cheers
    PS – I want to ask a decorating question: What do you think of high gloss paint for shutters? I often use high gloss for doors.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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