Copyright © 2008 Rugs Direct®
One of the most important attributes of an area rug is the most basic - its shape. Closely related to this is size, which, when combined with shape, precisely defines the floor area that the rug will cover.
Yes, the vast majority of rugs are rectangular in shape. There are two reasons for this. First of all, traditionally the looms that have been used for thousands of years to create handmade rugs have a fixed width at which they work, but there is no set length. So the person designing the rug could make it as long as he wanted to and most all of the artists weaving rugs realized a square is pretty boring. Think of it. You don't see many square works of fine art hanging in museums either. A rectangle is just a far more aesthetically pleasing shape.
Secondly, most rooms are rectangular in shape too. It only makes sense to place a rectangular area rug on the floor of a room that is also rectangular.
So, most rugs are rectangular. Sometimes you will hear this shape referred to as a "regular" rug. Because of this, the industry has actually established some "standard" sizes for rectangular rugs, although no one is particularly bound to follow them. But it does give people looking to buy a rug a point of comparison. Here are those standard sizes, further categorized into small, medium and large. Dimensions are given in feet, whereas in much of the world area rugs are measured in meters.
Small Area Rugs
- 2' x 3'
- 2' x 4'
- 3' x 5'
- 4' x 6'
- 5' x 8'
Medium Area Rugs
- 6' x 9'
- 7' x 10'
- 8' x 10'
- 9' x 12'
- 10' x 13'
Large Area Rugs
- 10' x 14'
- 12' x 15'
- 12' x 18'
- 13' x 20'
- 14' x 21'
There are several other shapes popular among area rug manufacturers and buyers.
A "runner" - sometimes also referred to as a "carpet runner" - is a long, narrow rug normally placed in a hallway, on stairs or used as a room divider. Technically it is also a rectangle, but since it falls out of the range of the regular rug sizes given above, it is categorized separately. Interestingly, the use of runners on stairways tends to be an American convention as you seldom see them used this way in European countries.
Modern runners are usually between 2.5 and 3 feet wide and can vary from as little as 6 to as much as 20 feet in length. Some companies offer custom runners, which can be cut to almost any length.
Round rugs are, by definition, symmetrical. They have grown in popularity in recent years, but traditionally they were seldom made in the ancient rug capitals of the Middle East. They were much more common in China, and then later in France. Their use is rather specialized because most furniture groupings don't configure very well around or on top of a round floor covering. Still there are many highly decorative situations in which a round rug will add emphasis or interest in a room more than a standard rectangular one might.
Closely related to round rugs are square ones. Mose designers and decorators agree that about the only place to effectively use a square rug is in a square room - and there just aren't that many of these around any more!
Oval rugs are a nice combination of a standard rectangular rug with the softer corners of a round rug. They are measured in much the same way as rectangular rugs with the understanding that there is material missing from the corners - or more accurately, the "non-corners" of the rug. An oval rug can be used in almost any situation in which a rectangular one would fit, although it tends to look less formal. For this reason they tend to find more use in casual dining areas, porches, non-formal entryways and bedrooms. A great many oval rugs are braided and reversible.
Lastly you can find what the industry calls "odd shapes" in many rug styles. These include hexagonal (6-sided) rugs, octagonal rugs (8- sided) and even triangles. Another variant is the "hearth" or "half-oval" rug which, as the name implies, has one straight edge and one rounded side so that it can be placed up against a fireplace.
Rugs Direct carries well over 60,000 area rugs in all shapes and sizes. If you find yourself wanting to expand you decorating horizons by experimenting with non-traditional shapes, please visit our online showroom. You can easily search our inventory by shapes (and sizes) using our proprietary area-rug search tool, the Rugs Directory.