I’ll be honest, when I got the brief for this article, I took one look at the title and thought: no way. I’ve gone on record around here as a rug-size militant, and one who believes that bigger is nearly always better. But before dismissing the idea completely, I decided to have a hunt for rooms breaking traditional rug rules and still managing to look good. Lo and behold, what I found was eye-opening to say the least.

In the lead image, a house tour from Lauren Kelp, a just slightly too-small rug still looks killer under that dining table. Why? I think it’s to do with the strong color story being told by the red rug, warm woods of the chairs and table, and the copper light above. It’s like a column of color in the middle of an otherwise neutral space — and it works!

Here’s an interesting example. This round felt ball rug does precisely nothing, functionally speaking, for this space from Swedish real estate company Fastighetsbyrån via Planete Deco — you can’t rest your feet on it when getting out of bed, nor while sitting at the desk. But…I kind of like it? The felt balls perfectly echo the shapes of the garland lights and the lightbulbs around the mirror, and it adds the perfect pop of color to the mainly white space.

I’ve never even considered putting a runner under a dining table: it’s just the wrong shape, full stop. But the way this patterned one, snapped by Arden Wray for the Urban Outfitters Blog, mimics both the colors and texture of the exposed brick beyond it is just perfection, don’t you think? Combined with another pattered rug in the seating area, it gives a laid-back boho vibe to this Toronto home.

Talk about putting a rug just where it counts! This teeny-tiny number (bathmat?) looks adorable under a coordinating chair, and I’ll bet it makes sitting in that sunny spot all the more comfortable. It may break the rules (an 8×10 under the bed or a 4×6 next to the bed might feel more natural), but this offbeat look, found on Design*Sponge, is a charmer.

Here’s another small rug right were it counts: this slim style works under the dining table of this Swedish home on Alvhem (found via One Kindesign) because the chairs are still sitting on the rug — if there was a third chair, it might not be so successful. I also think a larger rug might overpower the room and all that lovely white!

Generally, round rugs are best left to square or round rooms (the latter being unlikely unless you live in a castle), or for underneath round dining tables. I’d normally never put one under seating area, especially one with a sectional, which seems to call for a rectangular base. But breaking this rule sometimes looks great, as the home of My Attic blogger Marij Hessel proves (found via My Scandinavian Home).

Finally, this lovely image from The Socialite Family makes me rethink the purpose of a rug entirely. I normally think of them as a base, something to rest furniture or your feet on, with the obvious exception of a hallway/stair runner. This round jute rug creates a focus in an area that might otherwise feel like a passage to the next room. It brings together two spread apart seating areas, and without it, I think the room would lose something.

How do you feel about “rug rules”, anyway? Do you ever break them successfully in your home?

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