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How Do You Fit a Rug Under a Dining Room Table

Some of our most treasured memories come from evenings meals or long lunches around the dining table. Family and friends gathered together, sharing experiences, ideas and lots of laughter.  And that's not limited just to the special occasions like birthdays or Christmas, but your regular weekday meal too, when the family comes together to catch up and connect at the end of a busy day or week. 

What type of rug is best for under a dining table?

rug under bench seat

Dining rooms don't always feature rugs. But a well chosen rug can work really well, and help you create a warm and inviting space for you and your family to enjoy good food and conversation. 

When choosing which rug is going to work in your home, here are a couple of things to bear in mind:

  1. The measurements and shape of your dining room table. Normal rule of thumb is to orient your rug to the shape of your room. But when it comes to dining room rugs, it's actually about the shape of your table. Matching your rug to your table top creates visual symmetry and balance.
  2. How and when you use your dining room - it it a formal dining table used a couple of times a month or an everyday kitchen table?  Do you have a separate dining room or an open plan space with a dining ‘zone’?
  3. Keeping it clean. How easy will it be to get the vacuum cleaner over it?   What happens when food is dropped - will it easily mark or stain? If you have a young family in particular, you are going to want to make sure it isn't too difficult to maintain.

A sheepskin rug in your dining room might not be the first thing that springs to mind. You might think it would be hard to keep it clean. But actually a short pile sheepskin rug is surprisingly easy to keep looking good with a weekly vacuum and spot cleaning. The key is the length of pile - check out these ones here.

Another advantage to sheepskin is the memory in the wool fibres. Should you decide you want to re-locate your short pile sheepskin to another spot in your house, you might find the furniture has left little ‘dents’ in the rug (this will happen with any type of rug).

With sheepskin, as opposed to other materials, the wool fibres will spring back to their original shape and over time those dents will disappear. A couple of good vacuums will help.

rug under table

How big should a rug be under a dining table?

The one rule I absolutely swear by when it comes to rugs, is  ‘bigger is better’. A rug that is too small for your room or furniture can make a space feel completely out of balance, cramped and over crowded.  So the first thing is to remember is to select a rug that is larger than your dining suite.

How much larger? Well, think about what happens when we are gathered around for a meal. We are never completely still. Chairs are pulled back, we are getting up and down to prepare food, pour wine, clear plates, visit the bathroom and so on. There’s movement.

So ideally you want your rug is be large enough to encompass all of that activity too. Think of it as providing a ‘platform’ for the eating experience!

A handy rule of thumb is to ensure your rug stretches at least 60 centimetres beyond the edge of your dining table. This will allow enough room for your guests - and their chairs - to comfortably remain on the rug, even when they are pulled back and everyone is sitting down. 

As a result, your dining space will feel more relaxed and generous, with plenty of room for movement.

How do you pick the right size rug?

Choosing the right rug is important, as it essentially acts as a 'frame' for eating and entertaining, and as such will have a big impact on the look and feel of your room. If you have an open plan set up, like we do in our house, your rug defines and anchors that dining space, and draws everybody to it.

Here are a few tips to help your decision making process:

  1. Bigger is better' - and makes your dining room seem more spacious and inviting.
  2. Leave some bare floor visible between the edge of the rug and the walls of your room - so the room won’t appear crowded.
  3. Keep in proportion with your furniture - too small a rug will look out of balance.
  4. Match shapes if you can - a round rug with a round dining table, square with square and so on.  Visual symmetry promotes a sense of ease and balance.

The most accurate way to work out the best rug dimensions for you, is to get out your tape measure.  Measure your table top and add 60 centimetres on all sides. Mark this space out on the floor with masking tape.

Then you can see how it looks with all the chairs pushed in and all the chairs pulled out. You could decide to go bigger than this, but you probably don't want to go any smaller.

What size rug do I need for a table that seats 4?

Most of us don’t know the physical dimensions of our dining tables in centimetres or inches, but we do know its shape and how many people is sits, and usually we refer to them as a 'four seater' or a 'six seater' and so on.

It's helpful that rugs come in standard sizes too. If you are buying from a retailer, it is most likely they will supply rugs in the standard sizes listed below. 

conversion table

Being a 'four seater', it could actually be round or square, as opposed to rectangular. If this is the case, try matching shapes so that they complement each other. Take a look at these shapes here.

If you can't find a round rug you are happy with, you could just as easily go square - just make sure its large enough for all of your furniture to comfortably sit on top, so that the rug acts as a 'frame' or 'platform' for dining.

What size rug do I need for a table that seats 6?

Referring to the standard rug sizes above, an 8 x 10 ft will usually suffice for a 'six seater'. By far and away the most common rug used, most standard rectangular dining tables look good on it.

What size rug do I need for a table that seats 8?

If you have an 'eight seater' the 9 x 12 ft rug will usually do the trick. And, again, shapes should be consistent if you can, or if not, choose a rug that is large enough to easily 'frame' all of your furniture.

Can you put a round rug under an oval table?

round rug

A well placed rug strikes balance and symmetry, as well as style. In terms of optics when it comes to dining room rugs, the reference point is shapes of tables, not rooms.

The tricky thing about oval tables finding an oval rug!

While you could spend time seeking one out, you could also try a large rectangular shaped rug instead. Just go for as large as possible, so that is easily encompasses your all of your furniture and you get that framing effect. Don't go all the way out to the walls though, leave some bare floor visible.

Its probably best to avoid a round rug in this instance, as the overall effect will be crowded.

How do I keep my dining room rug clean?

You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs, so they say. Well you can’t have fun times connecting with friends and family over dinner without getting a bit of food on the floor!

Cleaning your rug is something that needs to be thought through before you buy.  The cleaning process needs to be simple and incorporated into your normal everyday routine without the need for fancy gadgets or magic cleaning products.

  • Regular vacuuming is going to be your best friend. Get those crumbs off the floor quickly, so they can’t be ‘walked in’ to your rug, making them even harder to remove.  
  • If you encounter a more stubborn mark, spot clean it with a damp cloth in the first instance. Take care not to rub the fibres of your rug too hard, just dab lightly.

Being a big fan of sheepskin I have to point out the following...... if you choose a short pile sheepskin rug, you will have an immediate advantage thanks to wool's in-built stain defence system.

This is because waxy outer coating on the wool fibres, called lanolin, actually contains fatty acids that inhibit the growth of bacteria, resist soiling and release dirt easily. Any food dropped or liquid spilt should 'slide' off the sheepskin fibres quite readily.

Accidents do happen of course, so if you get a spill on your sheepskin rug, the most important thing is to act quickly to ‘contain the stain’. Use a dry towel to blot up any excess liquid. Then use a commercial wet stain remover (available from your local supermarket) to remove any remaining traces of the stain. 

Most rugs come with a recommended care routine, such as the ones for Wilson & Dorset.


As we move into the festive holiday season we are all thinking about the lunches and dinners we will host, the guests, the menus and the decorations. It's a special time of year where we get to re-connect with loved ones and enjoy a bit of down time together.

Making the effort to create a beautiful dining space, complete with a gorgeous rug underfoot, is well worth it, and will set you up to host and entertain family and friends with ease, confidence and style.  Enjoy!


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