Knowing the best places to put a rug in a small kitchen is an absolute game changer, especially when you’re short on square footage. It may feel a little tricky to cram an area rug in a tiny space, but our experts have eight brilliantly creative solutions.
It’s worth the effort, too. Rugs can be especially beneficial in small kitchens, defining the space and injecting a shot of instant coziness. Kitchen rugs also create a visual separation from other areas of the home. Double win!
We spoke to two professional organizers for their hot take on where to place your favorite rugs in the comfort of your small kitchen.
Best places to put a rug in a small kitchen
The right rug, like our favorite Target rugs, has so many purposes in a small kitchen. From comfort for bare feet while you cook or eat standing up, adding your personal style, or even hiding dated or faulty floors while your save for your dream small kitchen flooring.
“Decorating with rugs in a kitchen can be fun, and functional kitchen rugs can be ideal for many reasons in a variety of locations,” said professional organizer, Marcia Sloman. "The best location to place a rug in a small kitchen is at a workspace.”
Marcia Sloman, a professional organizer in Westchester County, has been a member of the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals since 1993. Marcia specializes in the management of “stuff” — paper, collections, time, and priorities — and in maximizing and managing limited spaces.
1. Under the kitchen sink
We tend to spend a lot of time by the kitchen sink, especially if you don't have a dishwasher and wash your dishes by hand.
Back and leg fatigue are common problems if you're on your feet a lot. An anti-fatigue mat or cushioned rug like this KitchenCloud mat available at Amazon, is ideal to place at the kitchen sink.
These mats and rugs are usually wipeable, so spills and splashes are easy to clean up. They can be found in a variety of colors to match your décor. The best reason to place these rugs at the kitchen sink is comfort. Trust us, once you experience the exquisite joy of an anti-fatigue mat (we love these decorative ergonomic anti-slip kitchen mats from Amazon) on your bare feet, you won’t go back.
2. Food prep area
Slicing, dicing, chopping, and running small appliances in a food prep area can be taxing on the whole body. When you’re on your feet for long periods of time preparing food, your legs, back and arms get tired.
Sloman suggests placing a rug or anti-fatigue mat in this area while designing your small kitchen to provide some comfort as you're making your weeknight meals.
“Whether you are making a complex or a simple dish, every cook preps. And, even the neatest cook experiences pieces of food flying,” she said. “Be sure to place a rug here that can be easily wiped or vacuumed."
These boho-inspired kitchen mats available on Amazon can be wiped down quickly.
3. Coffee & tea station
If you’re a coffee or tea lover, you probably have a small hot drinks station on your countertop. Or maybe you created a small kitchen breakfast bar for added dining space.
"You can create a little nook for these items, even in a small kitchen," says Sloman. "A rug on the floor in this specific area can be decorative and also designate a boundary."
This neutral area rug from Ruggable can help define the space and add some extra warmth.
4. Eating area
Adding a rug under a small dining table or near your eating space is a great idea as long as you cover the entire area. When a chair pulls out, it should move freely without catching the edge of the rug.
"This may work best under a one-piece table with attached bench seating, a built-in nook, or a bistro set in a small kitchen," said Marcia.
We love this dining set from Wayfair, complete with a table and four stools, for any small space.
5. Along a galley or center aisle
Professional organizer Heather Aiello suggests placing a runner rug in a galley kitchen or a kitchen with a center aisle, protecting the floor in these high-traffic areas.
A runner rug, like this soft gray runner rug from Ruggable, can visually elongate the space, making the kitchen appear longer and more streamlined.
When choosing a runner, consider the color and pattern in relation to your small kitchen’s overall aesthetic, and ensure it’s made of durable, easy-to-clean material. The runner should be well-secured to prevent slipping and should be easy to move for cleaning purposes.
Heather Aiello is the Founder and COO (Chief Organizing Officer) of The Organized You. She believes in creating solutions that you can live with when it comes to leaving. Her goal is to develop a customized solution for you to maintain now and in the future.
6. Kitchen entry
The benefits of a small entryway rug are applicable to a small kitchen entrance, too. “A small rug at the kitchen entrance serves as a functional and welcoming element,” said Heather. “It can trap dirt and debris from shoes, keeping the rest of your kitchen cleaner.”
This rug can also set the tone for your kitchen’s decor, offering an opportunity to make a stylistic statement right at the entrance.
Choose a durable, easy-to-clean rug, like this Moroccan-inspired washable rug available at Amazon, as this area typically experiences high foot traffic, and consider a non-slip backing for safety.
7. In front or beside the refrigerator
Jazzing up a dull area, such as right in front of the refrigerator, is a good way to make a small kitchen look more luxurious.
"Placing a rug in front of or beside the refrigerator in a small kitchen offers practical and aesthetic benefits," says Heather. "This area is prone to minor spills and crumbs when transferring food and drinks in and out of the fridge."
A rug here, like the Marcela runner rug from Ruggable, acts as a protective layer, safeguarding your kitchen floor from moisture and stains. Additionally, it can make a largely utilitarian area feel more homely.
8. Below the stove area
Placing a rug in the cooking area, right below the stove, can significantly enhance comfort underfoot, especially when you spend long periods standing while cooking.
An area rug, like one of the best Urban Outfitters rugs, serves the practical purpose of catching food debris.
"When selecting a rug for this area, consider fire-resistant materials and rugs that are easy to clean, given their proximity to heat and potential for grease stains," adds Heather. "A well-chosen rug here can also add a stylistic element, complementing your kitchen's decor."
Should I get a washable rug for my small kitchen?
Many rugs have rubber backing, but say they are washable. From Marcia’s experience, the rubber backing always cracks after washing, even in cold water. Therefore, she highly recommends finding a rug that can be wiped and cheaply replaced if stains don’t come out, like these wipeable kitchen mats from Amazon. You can also find washable rugs with removable backing.
How can I choose a runner rug that complements my narrow kitchen?
In a narrow kitchen, opt for a runner rug with designs or patterns that visually elongate the space, such as vertical stripes. Heather suggests sticking to a color scheme that harmonizes with your existing kitchen decor. Avoid excessively bold patterns that could make the area feel cramped. The width of the runner should be proportional to your aisle, fitting comfortably within the space.
Rugs make great additions to a small kitchen for decor, function and comfort. The best way to find the perfect rug for your small kitchen is to try out different options and move yours around until you find the right spot.
Picking the right rug can even help make a small kitchen look bigger if the shape or design elongates the room.