POPULAR RUG TYPES
A carefully selected rug sets the tone of the room. There are so many styles and types out there, however, that selecting the right rug can feel like a daunting task. Following is a brief introduction to the most popular types of rugs, materials and styles.
Aubusson rugs are named for the French villages of Aubusson and Felletin, where they were handwoven for nobility since 1743, when workshops were first established.
Traditional wool summer rugs used in the houses of French nobility, real Aubusson rugs are extremely rare and expensive. Ideal for a formal period room, Aubussons are flat rugs of delicate appearance.
Usually large and handwoven, Aubusson floor coverings were made for those who were part of the nobility, yet did not have access to the Savonnerie rugs made exclusively for the French court. The weavers at Aubusson copied the techniques and motifs employed at Savonnerie, producing fine rugs for the French upper classes.
The Aubusson workshops employed a pileless tapestry technique that soon became synonimous with the name. In time, any French rug using this technique was known as an "Aubusson."
Earlier Aubussons featured modified oriental motifs, but changed to predominantly Barroque and Renaissance floral and architectural, imitating the intricate Savonnerie rugs. They included floral medalions, garlands, rosettes, urns, and sprays of flowers.
Predominant colors are pastels, light blue, rose, gold, tan, and beige. Darker colors are usually found on the edges.
Aubusson Carpet 1814-30, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Public Domain
Doris Leslie Blau, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Named after the North African tribe that has traditionally woven these carpets for centuries, Berber rugs are distinguished by the use of natural sheep wool and knobby surface.
In traditional, authentic Berber rugs the wool is not dyed, and the resulting rugs are light cream to light brown in color, often with darker flecks of brown or gray.
Even though factory-made lopped rugs are referred to as "Berber rugs," they are not the authentic, North-African kind.
Due to their neutral color and interesting texture, Beber rugs are often used in contemporary and minimal rooms.
Berber rugs have become popular because they are easy to clean and the color flecks help hide dirt. Good-quality Berbers are durable and are relatively low priced.
The drawbacks to Berber rugs are that they can easily snag, especially on pets' claws, and they tend to be less soft than other types of rugs.
Braided or rag rugs refer to any rug made with scrap pieces of cloth.
In North America, braided rugs appeared in the new colonies toward the end of the 1500s and the beginning of the 1600s. They reached the height of their popularity in 18th and 19th-century North America, and were made with scraps of cloth and yarn braided and then sewn together often in an oval shape.
Usually inexpensive, durable, and frequently colorful, braided rugs are ideal for farmhouse and Early American-style rooms.
Wikimedia Commons, Gabe H
Similar to Kilims, but different in origin, specifically the regions north, east, and south of the Caucasus mountains.
Also similar to Persian rugs, but with the difference that while Persians feature delicate floral motifs, Caucasian rugs usually feature bold geometric patterns in primary colors.
Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
Antique Chinese rugs are among the most prized of all rugs. However, they are rare and most Chinese rugs you'll. see are contemporary machine-made imitations.
Chinese rugs are characterized by a plush, "vevet- type cut pile featuring bright colors. There is usually a central motif with a solid color background. Motifs include flowers mountains, birds, and dragons, as well as clouds and other nature-inspired objects.
The outlines of the designs are often beveled, giving some Chinese rugs an interesting textured look.
Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
Dhurrie rugs were originally produced in Tibet and India and made exclusively of cotton. Today, these flat-woven, no-pile, durable, and low-cost rugs are also available in wool. Woven on a loom, Dhurries are reversible and made with a technique employed by area artisans for centuries.
Dhurries generally feature bold geometric patterns in a colorful mix of pastels. They are usually more affordable than other rugs and can be made by hand or machine.
Today the most valuable Dhurries are those made in Indian Prisons from 1880 to 1920.
Dhurries are currently produced both by hand and machine predominantly in India, Pakistan, China, Turkey, and Romania.
Shaggy rugs from modern Greece, flokatis were originally made from undyed sheep's wool. Today they are available in several colors and made with many types of synthetic fibers.
Flokatis are different from other wool rugs in that in flokatis the pile forms the base. In other shaggy rugs, the base is usually made out of cotton, and the pile is woven into it.
Wool flokatis have all the attributes of wool: fie resistance, moisture-wicking, resistance to mold and mildew, durability and flexibility, and hypoallergenic properties.
Kilims are flat, tapestry-woven rugs that have been produced in the Middle East for centuries, particularly in Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan (the former Persian Empire).
Kilims usually feature floral or geometric patterns and are usually made of wool. Traditionally, predominant colors are dark blue and deep red.
Most Kilims can be classified as "slit-woven" textiles because of the slit that often appears in the boundary between two colors.
Even though less expensive than pile rugs, kilims should not be considered to be inferior.
Wikimedia Commons, Hotamis
Probably the most popular of American rugs, Navajo rugs and textiles are produced by the Navajo people in the Four Corners area of the US.
Navajo rugs are woven on a loom and are characterized by their durability and vivid patterns. They do not usually have fringe and are made with wool or cotton yarn. Navajo weavers began to also employ synthetic materials around the 1990s.
Other distinguishing characteristics are the selvedges chords at all four sides, ending in tassels in the corners of the rug.
Navajo weavers originally wove blankets for all kinds of uses, but by the en of the 1800s, Navajo weavers started producing rugs for tourism and export.
Navajo rug, teofilo wikimedia commons
Rya rugs are colorful, informal rugs from Scandinavia, originally Finland. They are traditionally made of wool, with a long pile.
The knotting technique used to make Rya tugs is similar to that used by oriental rugmakers, but the pile is longer and recumbent.
Originally intended for use as bedspreads, some also had a pile in the back side to provide more warmth.
Rya, AnnaKika, wikimedia commons
Produced in factories in the outskirts of Paris, Savonnerie rugs were used as winter rugs by the French aristocracy in the same way Aubussons were used as summer rugs.
Heavier, with a high, thick pile, Savonnerie rugs are beautifully suited to period and formal spaces.
Savonnerie rugs usually feature bold colors with flower and scroll motifs.
Waddesdon, wikimedia commons