I knew it was coming. Friends and family warned me it would, and I had witnessed the same thing happen to them. After they had babies, their picture-perfect homes slowly faded into spaces with toys and hardly any room to eat or sit. Then, the same thing started happening in my own home.

No longer did we have the luxury of walking to the table without stepping over obstacles. However, the other day I had an epiphany: There was about a foot of unused space all around the area rug. If I could push it to the corner, I could get just enough room for a clear walking path.

If done well, your area rugs can define a space and help maximize what you have. Sometimes, they can even make a small space feel larger. Consider some of these ideas for smart area rug placement:

• Use it as art. Place the rug off-center from your main furniture piece to create a focal point. In the family room, place the rug in front of the couch. The coffee table should fit completely on top of it. If the rug is large enough, you can put your sofa and other sitting pieces completely on top of the rug as well. When buying your rug, make sure that it is large enough so that at least the front legs of surrounding furniture can fit on top. If there is space around the rug in the middle of the furniture, it defeats the purpose.



In functional rooms, like the home office, make sure that furniture, like the desk and office chair, fit entirely on top of the rug. This helps to ensure that when you scoot in and out you can do so smoothly.

In the bedroom, the bed and nightstands should go completely on top of the rug — if this is not possible, aim for just the bed. In my bedroom, this is still not possible. Instead, I placed the rug to the side, allowing for it to provide a soft material underfoot and lie about two feet under the bed as well.

• Break the rules.

I have seen general design guidelines that suggest rugs should be between 6 and 24 inches away from the walls. If you don’t have a lot of room in your home, this can result in wasted space. Don’t be afraid to break the rules if the end result
is increased functionality.

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