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Banish Your Buying Woes: How To Determine the Right Size Furniture For Your Space

Imagine you’re at the mall in search of a new pair of jeans when you come across what appears to be the perfect pair. The length is just right, they’re the exact shade of blue you were hoping to find and — bonus — they have pockets you can actually use. You rush to the fitting room to try them on, only to be met with disappointment. The pants aren’t as comfortable or flattering on, and you don’t feel good wearing them. We’ve all experienced this discontent when shopping for clothes, and the same goes for our furniture purchases. What you think may be the pièce de résistance in-store can easily become the eyesore of the room once it’s in your space. Buying furniture that’s the wrong size for your space is a common design gaffe, but the good news is that these mistakes can easily be avoided with proper consideration of proportion and function.

Read on to learn more about how a room’s proportions are determined and how to properly size some of the most beloved furniture pieces in a home. 


The proportions of a room are determined by more than just its square footage. Ceiling height, window sizes and any other openings or architectural features are all factors that feed into the room’s size. With that in mind, it’s also important to consider the visual weight of the furniture you’re buying — don’t rely exclusively on dimensions to determine the size of your furniture. How big or small a piece “feels” in a space can impact the proportions of a room.


A linen sofa is perfect for curling up on in our Harlow model home.

When purchasing a new sofa, it’s important to think beyond what color or material works best in your space — the scale of the sofa, shape and traffic of the room should all be considered before deciding on this keystone piece. While a sectional sofa might be your ideal choice for comfort, it isn’t worth investing in if it’s going to devour all the space in your living room. A general rule of thumb is that there should be at least 18″ of space on either side of the sofa so that there’s visual ‘breathing space’ in the room. Remember that sofas should never block passageways or any unique architectural features, such as built-in shelving or a fireplace. To help yourself visualize how much floor space your sofa will require, use tape to mark the floor and see if there’s enough room to walk around freely.


The rest of the room: When choosing your sofa, be sure to consider the wider space so that all decor works together harmoniously. An overstuffed sofa may look out of place in a room that has a more minimalist or Scandi style.

Spacing rules: Sofas should be positioned at least seven feet away from the television, and coffee tables should be situated about a foot and a half away from the sofa.


A natural rug defines the dining space in our Lakeside at Lake Georgetown model home.

Buying a rug that’s the wrong size is one of the most common design blunders. A rug that’s too small can shrink a room and make it feel disjointed, while a rug that’s too big can flood or overwhelm the space it’s in. The rug size you choose to get will ultimately depend on the size and layout of your room, but as a general rule rugs less than 6′ x 9′ should only be used in smaller spaces such as an apartment.

Typical rug sizes for a living room are 8′ x 10′, 9′ x 12′ and 11′ x 14′; in larger rooms, be sure that the front legs of the furniture are on the rug and that there’s at least 6″ on each side of the furniture. In apartments, place the rug beneath the table as an accent and arrange furniture around it with none of the furniture legs resting on the rug.

To create a cozy bedroom, opt for an 8′ x 10′ rug in a room with a queen-size bed, and a 9′ x 12′ or 10′ x 14′ rug in a room with a king-size bed. This will ensure that there’s enough of the rug visible on either side of the bed (and give you a plush surface to stand on when getting out of bed).

In the dining room, rugs should extend at least two feet from the furniture on all sides so that guests are able to comfortably pull their chairs out. Typical rug sizes for a dining room include 6′ x 9′ in smaller spaces, and 8′ x 10′ and 9′ x 12′ for larger rooms.


A king-size bed inspires sweet dreams in our Kallison Ranch model home. 

Much like a sofa, the bed is the focal point of the bedroom and the same sizing rules apply. As much as it would be nice to have a king size bed, it may not be well-suited to your space. Twin beds are best suited to rooms 10′ x 10′ or smaller; full size beds are recommend for a room at least 10′ x 12′; queen beds should be placed in rooms that measure 10′ x 12′ or larger for a feeling of openness; and king beds are recommended for a room that’s 13′ x 13′ or larger. Be sure to also consider other furniture in the room to ensure that it’s easy to maneuver around the bed.


What wall the bed will be on and if there are any surrounding architectural features (for example, if the bed will be in between two windows). Take time finding a bed frame that will complement the look and feel of your room; for smaller rooms, bed frames that skew toward minimalism are preferred over bulkier pieces so that the room isn’t overwhelmed. Larger rooms allow for more leeway with design. 


A farmhouse-style trestle table is perfect for family gatherings in the Legacy model home.

The most important consideration for choosing your dining room table is to think of the room as a whole. While a space may be able to accommodate a larger table without any other furniture in it, it may become too tight once chairs and other elements, including credenzas, are added into the mix. To ensure you have adequate room around your dining table, leave a minimum of 30″ to 36″ of clearance space measured from the nearest wall or obstruction (though depending on the size of your room, 42″ to 48″ may be preferred).


Artwork adds interest to the dining area in our Riverland model home.

The most foolproof way to determine what size artwork is best suited to your space is to do some calculations before hand. Measure the length and width of your available wall space, then multiply the length by .57 and .75, and repeat the same steps for the width; the artwork you choose should measure within those dimensions. Once you’ve determined what size artwork you need, be sure to also consider how high it will hang — typically, art should hang between 57 to 60 inches from the floor, or 6″ to 8″ above furniture.


Art is a personal statement, and it should reflect your tastes and interests. If buying art on a whim, remember that it’s better to err on the side of too big than too small. Oversized wall art can create a dramatic focal point, while a small piece on a large wall can look out of place. If you prefer smaller pieces of art and have a wall you want to fill, consider a gallery wall, which can have the same impact as a large-scale piece of art.



With due consideration given to these staple furniture pieces before buying, finding ones that are proportionate and well-suited to a room shouldn’t be hard. For more home advice, including 9 home upgrades that will increase the value of your home, what to buy before and after you move into your new home and where to save and splurge in the living room, be sure to explore our blog.