How To Use Rugs in Small Spaces

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Small spaces deserve great rugs as much as large spaces. Choose a rug that will complement the space and not overpower it. Sam Presnell, owner of The Rug Gallery, discusses how to choose a rug for a small space. Listen or read more to find out about rugs in small spaces.

John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery’s an oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m John Maher. I’m here with the owner of The Rug Gallery, Sam Presnell. Hi, Sam.

Sam Presnell: Hi, John.

John: Sam, today we’re talking about how to put a rug in a small space. It seems like today people are going for these smaller homes and smaller spaces or living within their means, that kind of thing. What types of rugs are best for small spaces? Maybe you have a small office or a small living room or something like that.

Sam: I think the best type of rug for small spaces are usually rugs that have designs which bleed out into the border … maybe don’t have so much of a frame on them. Today there’s a lot of transitional rugs where they may have more traditional designs, but there are no borders on them, they just bleed all the way out to the rug and it helps in repeating design or anything that, like I said, is smaller and just is more all over in design is easier on your eye and your eye tends to go through the space. Whereas when you get something with a medallion, or you get something with big frames or borders on it, that draws your eye in and makes the room feel smaller.

Rugs to Avoid in Small Spaces 

John: That’s interesting. Are there types of rugs that should be avoided for small spaces other than what you just said with rugs with borders?

Sam: Certain color ways are also very, very important. Of course the darker the rug, the smaller the space will feel. Whereas the lighter the rug, the bigger the space will feel.

John: Okay, so tend to go with a lighter color rug in a small space.

Sam: Yes. That would definitely help visually. Yes.

Determining Rug Size in a Small Space 

John: How would you measure your space to determine what size of rug you need in your room?

Sam: That’s where most people get off the tracks a little bit and they lose track of what the room is, what it needs. A lot of times — one thing nice about going to rug stores is you can actually try different sizes. Then, today, we actually cut down rugs and make them fit the room better than before. You don’t have to live with a rug that’s the wrong size for that room.

It’s a lot to add balance, some of that is interpreted by people in different ways and what may be perfect for me may not be for somebody else. I like as big a rug as you can get into a room especially into a small room, it makes the eye flow out more. Whereas as you do smaller rugs that tends to bring your eyes down and focus more inward.

Again, I would say just basically try to get as big as rug as you can in that space. Expose a little bit of the frame on it because if you got pretty floors, you paid good money for that why not enjoy that  — like a frame for a picture.

John: Right. We’ve talked a lot before on when you have a large room and you could even have multiple rugs in a large room, where you’re dividing up that space into smaller areas, which can be nice for a large room. What you’re saying is that if you do that in a small room and you have a smaller rug that’s only in part of that room, now you’re further dividing up that small room into even smaller spaces. That’s too much for a small rug to handle.

Sam: Yes, I agree with you 100%. That’s good observation. With a big room what you’re trying to do is just the opposite of what you’re trying to do in a small room so that makes total sense.

Troubleshooting a Large Rug in a Small Room 

John: What would happen if you did get a rug and you tried it in your room and it ended up being really too large and you wanted to have a little bit of a smaller rug. What would you do at that point?

Sam: That’s the biggest growing part of our business. We call it a custom part of our business, but it really is just reducing rugs down. A lot of people don’t like doing that because they think a rug is a rug, you don’t mess with them once you get them, like art or whatever.

One nice thing we look at is more like carpeting and we treat it that same way. We reduce a lot of things in size that fit different spaces. We just had a person who moved in from out of state, who had this huge rug and an old house down south. Then they moved to a new house and it didn’t fit anymore but they loved the rug and all their furniture was designed around that particular rug. They wanted that rug but they wanted it smaller, so we did that for them.

How to Cut Down a Rug 

John: Would you only be able —

Sam: They would not know it. They would not know it unless we share we did it.

John: Would you only be able to do that with the style of rug that you’re talking about before where it goes right out to the edges or can you do that with a rug that has a border around it?

Sam: This particular rug had a border on. In fact, we just did a runner in the same way. Took .. it was 10 feet, they wanted eight foot. We took the borders off put them back on. Unless you look at the back of the rug you really wouldn’t know from visually from the front or the top what we did.

John: You can actually cut off the border, reduce the interior size of the rug and then put the border back on.

Sam: Exactly. That’s exactly what we do.

John: Interesting. All right. That’s great information Sam, I appreciate you speaking with me today.

Sam: You’re welcome, John. My pleasure.

John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery and oriental rugs and carpets, visit That’s ruggallery or call 513-793-9505. Make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes and if you could take the time to give us a review on iTunes as well, would appreciate that. See you next time on The Rug Gallery.

Categories: Ask Sam, Rug