There are impassioned debates over whether or not rugs really belong in the dining room. After all, it’s a place where you eat, and with food and drink comes the inevitable crumbs and spills. Our take? That rugs 100% deserve a spot under your dining room table—and caring for them is easier than you think when you choose the right size, shape, material, color, and pattern. Keep reading to learn how to pick the best dining room rug for your space.
Making the Case for a Dining Room Rug
Not so sure about rolling out a dining room rug? Here are a few reasons why we say it’s a major “do!”
They protect your floors. With a heavy table plus chairs that constantly scoot in and out, your dining room floors can go through some real wear and tear. A rug will help your floors stay in good shape—and as always, don’t forget to put a rug pad underneath for extra protection!
They help absorb sound. Don’t you hate it when a room echoes? You certainly don’t want that in your dining room, whether you’re hosting a dinner party or just doing homework at the table with kids. Laying down a rug will ensure all that noise is absorbed.
And of course: They look great! What can we say? We may be slightly biased when it comes to the power of rugs, but you have to admit: they bring in warmth and pull a room together like no other.
Choosing a Size
Look to your chairs. The size of your dining table does help determine what size rug you should get, but the chairs play an important role too. You don’t want chairs to trip on the rug when guests stand up or sit down, so a good rule of thumb is to choose a rug that extends at least two feet beyond chairs when they’re pushed in.
We know it’s not always possible to get a rug this large for your dining space, whether due to budget or space constraints. So try to go as big as you can, and keep in mind your chairs may catch on the rug when you stand up and sit down if you land on a smaller size.
Read the room. So you know the rug should extend past the dining chairs. But how big should you go beyond that? (Pssst: it’s ok if your rug stops just after the chairs!) This is when you look at the size of the room and the rest of the furniture in the space. Many will recommend having your rug stop about six inches short of any sideboards, shelves or other pieces lining the wall, so it frames the dining table and feels separate from the furniture. But you can also bring the rug under the furniture—just make sure it doesn’t run flush up against the walls.
Don’t forget about leaves! You’ll want to measure for a rug when your dining table is at its largest. So if yours extends with a leaf, be sure to accommodate for that when choosing a rug size. We promise it won’t feel too big when the leaf is removed!
Choosing a Shape
Generally, pair like shapes together. Rectangular dining tables tend to look best with rectangle rugs. Square and round tables work well with both square and round rugs, but we’ve seen rectangular rugs paired with them too.
But go with your gut if it feels right! There’s an unlimited number of ways to design your space, and because it’s your home, you know best what feels right. If this means trying out an unconventional rug and dining table combo, we say go for it.
Choosing a Material
Go for a low pile. High-pile rugs (like shags) tend to trap crumbs and can be harder to clean. So choose a flatweave or lower pile rug that’s around 1/2” high or less for your dining room. This will also create an easier surface for chairs to slide over.
Pick easy-to-clean materials like wool and synthetics, or even an outdoor rug. When it comes to durability, ease of cleaning, and softness, wool and synthetic materials like polypropylene are your best bet (read all about cleaning rugs in our guide here). Outdoor rugs, which are designed to withstand the elements, are another great option if you’re particularly worried about spills and stains. And bonus: these days, they can feel and look just as beautiful as indoor rugs.
Jute will work, but is more prone to staining. We love jute and natural fiber rugs for their good looks, durability, and price. But they’re not our top choice for the dining room because they tend to stain more easily than wool and synthetics. If your heart is set on jute, try applying a stain repellent—and practicing utmost care when eating at the table!
Choosing Color and Pattern
Consider color. The lighter the hue, the more visible stains will be. Both bright and dark colors are much better at concealing any spots, but if you do want to go with a lighter rug, we suggest that you…
Pick a pattern. Patterned rugs, even in light shades, are perfect for disguising stains and spots from food or drink. If you’re not a fan of bold, splashy prints, try out a subtle pattern—it will hide any blemishes just as well!