Have you ever looked at your coffee table and thought it just didn’t look right, but couldn’t figure out why?  Or maybe you were installing a light fixture above your table and weren’t quite sure how high it should hang.  I’ve asked myself those questions so many times but then came across one of my all-time favorite design books, Design Rules: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator by Elaine Griffin.

In additional to providing design advice in a very approachable manner, so also gives great Rule of Thumb measurements for everything from the correct height of your bedside lamp to where to hang curtains in relation to the window!  For example, did you know that coffee tables look best when they are 1″-2″ less than the height of the sofa’s seat cushion?  Or that you should leave 1 1/2″ -2″ of spacing between pictures in an art grouping?

25 Need to Know Measurements for Decorating

Living Room

by A.S.D. Interiors
  • You need 26”-36” clear as a pathway to walk comfortably through a room or 36″-48″ for an airy feeling
  • If you’re covering the entire room with one area rug, leave 12″-18″ clear all around to the wall.  In smaller rooms, 7″-12″ will work
  • Choose side tables that are about 2” less than the height of the sofa arm
  • Coffee tables should be 1”-2” less than the height of the sofa’s seat cushion
  • In a small grouping, 15″ by 24″ or smaller can be a great size for a coffee table
  • For art groupings with more than one row, spacing between the images should be 1 ½” to 2”
  • If using art above a sofa, fill at least 50%-60% of the 5-foot high space above the sofa

Dining Room

by Dreamy Whites
  • Wainscoting should be about 36” – 48” above the finished floor
  • Chair rails should be 34”-36” above the floor
  • Dining tables should be 30” high
  • Allow 18” of table width per person
  • For rectangular tables, you’ll need a table that is at least 48″ long to seat 6 people, 72″ for 8 and 96″ to seat 12 people
  • Dining seating should be 16”-18” high from the floor to the top of the seat
  • To pick the right size light fixture for above a table, you can either

1) divide the width of your dining table by two to get an approximate chandelier diameter OR

2) add the room’s length and width in feet; the sum equals an approximate chandelier diameter in inches

  • Chandeliers should hang 30”-36” above the table surface
  • In general, center sconces’ back plates between 60”-64” above the floor


by Laura Martin Bouvard
  • If you have space for a bench, box, chest or trunk at the end of a bed, it should be slightly lower than the height of the bed and no more than 15”-21” deep
  • For most beds, 24”-27” is the ideal height for a nightstand
  • For a King-size bed, nightstands should be at least 36” wide
  • Area rugs underneath beds should extend 6”-12” beyond the outer edges of the nightstands and the end of the bed
  • Swing arm lamps above bedside tables should be mounted no farther than 3” out from the edge of the headboard with the bottom of the shade about 20” above the top of the mattress
  • Table lamps should also have the bottom of the shade about 20” above the top of the mattress
  • Use a 47″ tall headboard if you don’t want much headboard to show above your pillows or 52″ and up if you want to show more headboard above the pillows

Window Treatments

by Artistic Designs for Living
  • Curtain width should always be at least twice the width of the window for fullness.  For modern rooms, just twice the window’s width or even just 1 ¾ times for a really sleek look (if you’re using multiple panels, purchase an even number of panels that equals at least twice your window’s width for fullness)
  • Extend the curtain rod by at least 6”-8” past the outer edge of the trim on each side of the window
  • BONUS: This is not in the book, but for reference, always hang curtains as close to the ceiling line as possible to help elongate the window and add anywhere from 2″-8″ to the length if you want the curtain to have the puddle look


So does this mean that if you aren’t following these measurements your design is wrong?  Of course not!  If it feels good to you and you like how it looks, that’s all that matters.  But if you’re unsure as to where to begin, these measurements provide a good starting point.

If you’re interested in reading the book’s description or purchasing it, you can do so via Amazon by clicking on the book’s cover below.








I hope you’ll find the Rule of Thumb guidelines as useful as I have!






32 comments on “25 Need to Know Measurements for Decorating!”

    • Hi Jessica – Sorry for the delayed response! I’m still playing catch-up after taking some time off to hang with the kids. To answer your question, I feel that curtains should be hung as close to the ceiling or crown moulding as possible in order to help elongate the look of a room. If you don’t have crown, consider 1″-2″ below the ceiling. If you have crown, try mounting the rod directly underneath it. Then measure that distance from the rod to the floor to get your total length (be sure to account for the type of header your are using, as this will affect the location from where your drape actually starts in relation to the rod). If you want a puddled look, add anywhere from 2″-8″ to the total length depending on your preference.

      These are the basic guidelines I tend to follow. I hope that helps!! :) Kim

  1. Ok, this page is pretty important but I don’t want to print 22 pages!!. Can’t you make a link to a pdf that just has the measurements and room without the pictures?

    • Wow! 22 pages, huh? I guess that post was longer than I realized!! My suggestion would be to highlight the text you want and copy (Ctrl+C) and paste (Ctrl+V) it to a Word document that you can print or save as needed. I’m glad you found the info helpful, though! :) Kim

  2. designers disagree about curtain length whether to puddle or not, but just make sure they aren’t too short, the equivalent of a high water pair of jeans.

    You didn’t include an important one – not hanging a piece of art too high off the back of a couch so there’s a big gap between the couch and the bottom of the art. (Typically should be 8″-10″) Also, did you include the guideline for height of art on a wall? (60-65 inches from floor to center of the art) I was at a friend’s, and she’d hung her family photos in a row along the hall above my head. I kid you not. They were like a wallpaper border rather than an arrangement of photos. Hanging too high is a common mistake.

  3. Good grief! I forgot the most important thing! Great post! I pinned it for reference and will be referring to it. I can say with certainty I’ll be using this info as we get settled into our new home. Thanks for this!

  4. You mentioned how deep a bench in front of a bed should be, but how wide should it be? 48″ for a Queen? 60+ for a King? I’ve also heard 2/3s of the width of the bed. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Joe – My personal preference is about 12″ less than the width of the bed, but depending on the shape of the bed frame and of the bench, sometimes they look good even when they are both the same width! At a minimum, though, I think it should be at least 2/3s {anything less and the scale starts to look disproportionate}. So a 60″ queen-sized bed would have a bench that is no less than 40″, but closer to 48″ +/-. Does that make sense??? :)

  5. Hello! I was wondering what is the standard “rule of thumb” for the length and width of a leaning wall mirror? I plan on putting a wall mirror in my master bedroom. I have seen one that is 88″ high and 16″ wide. I feel this is too high. My walls are standard height with a tray ceiling. I was thinking 65″-72″ . What do you recommend? Thank You.

    • Hi Janice – I don’t know that I’ve ever come across a rule of thumb for the height of a mirror. I have a few in my own home and I usually choose the height based other elements nearby. For example, in my bedroom and living room, my wall mirrors are roughly the height of my windows so that they essentially act as another window in the space and help provide a constant height around the room. I also have two flanking a fireplace and I wanted them to be shorter than the mantel decor so as not to detract from it. I guess what I’m saying is that you should look in your space to see how high the windows are {or the window treatments would be an option, too}, other wall decor, fireplace decor, etc. and choose something that fits well with what you already have….unless, of course, you want the mirror to be a focal point in which case it would be fine if it’s taller than everything else!

      I’m sorry that I can’t provide you with a more specific answer but I hope that helps! :) Kim

  6. Kim, thank you for the great tips. They will come in handy when decorating our new home. I do have a question I didn’t see an answer to…in a bedroom with 10ft ceilings where I’d like the headboard to be the focal point, how tall should the headboard be? Thank you.

  7. i have a small breakfast table with tiny chairs that are 15″ depth. I found chairs that I love that are 18.5 deep but 20″wide and my current chair are only 15″ wide. So if I bought the new chairs they wouldn’t push into the pedestal table. How far back should to the front part of the back of the chair be from the apron of the table?

    • Hi Amy –
      In my opinion, the distance between your table apron and chair back depends on 1) your space 2) how often the chairs get used and 3) your decorating style, in that order. If the space around your table is restricted, you’ll want to ensure that your chairs push in as much as possible so that you don’t restrict the flow of traffic. If space isn’t any issue, then how far out the chairs sit from the table is a matter of personal preference. If they are pushed in tightly, they have a more formal feel – pulled back a bit they have a more relaxed look. In my own home, I have a more casual look so my dining chairs tend to be pulled away from the table anywhere from 4″ – 10″. (4″ in the dining room, 10″ in the kitchen.) The key, though, is to not have the chairs sit so far away from the table that they look pulled out. In general, I determine this by seeing whether someone could sit down without moving the chair. If you can, the chair is pulled out too far. I hope that helps!

  8. Hi Jennae-I love your blog! What a timely post for me since we’re in the market for a new couch.
    My main concern is the cushions (I really want all natural latex) and I don’t want flame retardants or stain guards on anything.
    I’ve been thinking of buying/finding a used couch and stripping it down to the frame, purchasing those natural latex cushions I want and ordering a custom made slipcover for the whole thing. After pricing out the cushions, it’ll still be pricey, but better than a new one.
    Do you know of anyone who’s ever done such a thing?
    I wonder if I’m crazy, or if it’s a good way (although time and labor heavy,) to get the sofa I’m looking for at a more reasonable price.
    Thanks for the post!

  9. My bedroom is very narrow. I have had to put my king size bed and two nightstands on the end wall that has two windows. Bed is between windows. Headboard is about 8″ into each window. I do not have a wall large enough to fit all three pieces on. How can I best use drapes?

  10. We’re buy home and could use some suggestions on how to make most of living room. Windows on 2 walls kitchen island on other and wall leading into space from door. Windows have beautiful view of ponds and husband wants furniture to face tv and Windows .help

  11. Trying to decorate a small table top. How much of the table should be taken up with decorating accessories? And how high should they be?

  12. I know that seat height should match in a living room- does the height of the arm rests also need to match on an accent chair (it is a small room and is at a 90 degree angle to- and nearly touching- the couch)? Thank you!

  13. These are grand for 8′ ceilings but more and more have 10′ and 11′ ceilings in homes.
    Would love revisions for those heights.

  14. I have a 14’ x 14’ bedroom with 8’3” ceilings. My question is… what height do you hang a chandelier when it is over the bed? To complicate things, I have a Queen size bed with 4 posts connected by canopy bars. The chandelier hangs dead centre width wise and about 23” in from the end of the bed. I put it up closer to the ceiling but I didn’t like it.
    Is there a rule…. like when you hang one over a table or anything?
    It’s the canopy rods that bother my eye when they visually cross through the light.

    Thx! Jodie. :)
    P.S. Great info otherwise!!

    • Hi Jodie – The standard (general guideline) for a chandelier hanging above a bed or just over open floor space, is 7′ from the floor to the bottom of the chandelier. I hope that helps!! :) Kim

  15. We have started construction on a new home. The master is 14’8″ x 21′. The head of our 76″ king size bed will be on the 14′ wall (no windows planed on this wall at this time) and opposite that wall are french doors. On one of the 21′ walls, we will have triple windows. My deliema is this: Do I add windows on either side of the bed, and if so where do I place them in relation to the bed? Most of the windows in the house are 72″, so should these be that tall as well or go with shorter ones?

    I have to make a decision on windows or no windows in a week. Thank you!


Leave a Reply to Beth Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *