Wool rugs are among the most durable. This Lotus Leaf rug from Couristan's Dynasty collection was handcrafted with a blend of New Zealand wool.
Many contemporary rug styles pay homage to traditional Persian designs. Couristan's Kerman Medallion rug from its Old World Classics collection replicates historic Persian patterns.
Outdoor rugs are becoming more popular as homeowners focus on outdoor living spaces. The Botanical Gardens rug shown here is from Couristan's new outdoor Urbane collection.
Dining Room Rule
Find the size of your perfect dining room rug:
“Take the width of the table and add 24 inches for each chair, so when a family is sitting at the table, they are actually sitting on a rug, not half on and half off.” ~ Bud Young, Capel Rugs
Area Rugs 101
Everything you need to know to shop for an area rug.
- by Mary Best
For centuries, area rugs have enlivened, softened and warmed home interiors. Functionally, they protect hardwood floors, reduce noise and help rooms retain heat. But as artfully crafted accessories, they also tie together the colors and textures of your space—even becoming the focal point of a room.
With such versatility, it’s easy to see why area rugs are available in every type of weave, pattern and price imaginable. But don’t feel overwhelmed. Let this crash course in area rugs help you make the best choice for your home and pocketbook.
Woven in Time
Weaving rugs by hand is an ancient art that dates back to at least the fifth century B.C. Through the years, handmade rugs have been identified by the location from which they were woven (such as Persia or the Orient) and by the method used to make them (such as hand-braided, hand-knotted, hand-loomed, hand-tufted and hand-hooked). The most frequently used materials are natural fibers—primarily wool, silk and cotton.
The long tradition of rug making has helped ensure the high quality of this popular home accent. “In our industry, there are very few bad rugs, no matter who makes them,” says Bud Young, vice president of marketing for Capel Rugs. “I think it’s the nature of the industry. It’s an old industry, and the weavers in the Middle East only wanted to make the very finest rugs possible. That tradition has been handed down over the years.”
Machine-made rugs emerged during the 19th-century following the invention of the power loom in 1839. They consist primarily of synthetic fibers such as polypropylene, nylon and rayon.
Pricing and Durability
The cost of an area rug varies widely depending on the technique and quality of materials used. Prices can range from less than $100 to many thousands of dollars. Hand-knotted area rugs made with 100 percent wool or silk are typically the most costly, says.Donielle M. Arabia, director of public relations for Couristan.
Area rugs made of wool tend to last longest because they are more likely to retain their shape and natural characteristics. “Wool fibers are naturally resilient, stain resistant and flame retardant,” Arabia says. “Wool has an inherent elasticity that allows it to perform like a miniature spring [so] fibers are less likely to be damaged under heavy foot traffic or crushed by furniture. Wool is also a non-allergenic fiber, does not promote the growth of bacteria or dust mites, and does not give off chemical emissions.”
According to Young, an average rug—such as one that's 9’ by 12’ and costs around $400—should last about 20 years.
For many, the main considerations for selecting a rug are its style and the way it will way enhance décor. Therefore the color, size and shape of a rug all play a part in the shopping process.
Color is particularly important because an area rug is often the last piece added to a room, and it brings the other elements together. “Decorating with rugs can be quite simple,” Young says. “Color drives everything." Young suggests taking a pillow, a swatch of sofa upholstery or drapery fabric, or a paint chip with you to coordinate your color palette.
If you don't already have a specific color in mind for your area rug, Arabia suggests using these tips:
- Neutral colors offer the most versatility; and they are no longer considered boring. “Modern neutrals include sapphire blue, plum, slate gray, chocolate and gold,” she says.
- Light-colored rugs make a room look more spacious while dark-colored rugs lend coziness to a room.
- Consider the longevity of the rug’s design, especially in today’s economy. “Select a design that balances classic with contemporary and has a versatile quality to it,” says Arabia. “Visualize the rug in a variety of settings with different décor. As your design taste changes over the years, you’ll want to be sure that the rug you select is capable of complementing different wall colors, wood tones and accessories.”
Shapes and Sizes
Area rugs are available in all shapes and sizes. Since most rooms and room pieces are rectangular—such as a bed, dining-room table or sofa—a majority of rugs are similarly shaped. Popular sizes include 5’ x 8’, 8’ x 10’ and 9’ x 12’.
The size of a rug should be proportionate to the size of the space, so that it does not overwhelm the room. Typically, you should leave 12 inches to 18 inches between the edge of the rug and the wall. For a dining room, Young offers this advice: “Take the width of the table and add 24 inches for each chair, so when a family is sitting at the table, they are actually sitting on a rug, not half on and half off.”
You can also use rugs to create a cohesive look in the room. Arabia suggests using “roll runners and special shapes such as octagons, squares and rounds to complement a rug placed in the main living area.”
A new room has emerged where area rugs are most sought after—outdoors. Increasingly, people are using the outdoor area of their homes as another living space. “It adds one more room to the house for entertaining,” Young says. As the trend toward outdoor furnishings surges, the production of outdoor rugs has become more sophisticated, making them weather-resistant, durable, attractive and comfortable.