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People often start their search for the right area rug based upon style; not necessarily the style of rug for which they are searching, but the style of the room or home in which it will be placed. This makes perfect sense. Everyone has his or her own personal tastes in decorating and the style of rug you purchase should naturally reflect the style of the décor.
It’s not difficult to classify area rugs according to their style. What is a bit more problematic is to make a comprehensive list of all area rug styles. It’s easier to start with the rug and describe it than it is to make an all-inclusive catalog of styles. So what we will do here is specify the generally accepted main styles of rugs and indicate the many different types that might logically be included as a subset of them.
This is by far the most common, well-known and popular style of area rug on the planet. And it has been for literally thousands of years. Any rug patterned after the ancient masterpieces of the Old World can rightly be described as traditional in style. But if only it was that simple!
First of all, you have antique or original rugs that are hand-made by individual craftsmen. These are usually extremely expensive but retain their value incredibly well. In many ways they are collectible art rather than a practical floor covering. These are balanced by the many modern, manufactured rugs that replicate the ancient designs, colors and patterns. Often traditional rugs are further categorized based upon a particular feature or style element that is endemic to a particular country or region. Some examples:
Traditional Persian Rugs
There are at least 50 different, distinct Persian styles, not all of which are woven in Persia (Iran). The one thing they all have in common is a unique border that serves to set off and emphasize the main pattern of the rug. Persian designs can be traced back some 2500 years and remain to be immensely popular all over the world today.
Traditional Oriental Rugs
This style of rug has a reputation of being extremely durable and lasting many generations. Almost all of them are made of natural fibers, most notably wool, silk and cotton. There is much debate over what the difference between a Persian and Oriental rug is. Often there is none other than the country of origin. An Oriental rug may come from India, western China, Central Asia, southern Russia or Turkey. Technically a Persian rug can only come from Iran.
Traditional Chinese Rugs
Rugs that belong in this category are seldom symmetrical or purely decorative. Instead they contain a message or meaning, often incorporating images from nature. There tend to be more colors in a Chinese rug than one originating in Persia or the Middle East.
Traditional Turkoman Rugs
This style is based upon designs created by nomads in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. They almost always have a red background, include a geometric pattern and what is known as a “gul” in the center. This is an octagonal shape that is based upon a flower. Turkoman rugs may have one gul or many.
There are many more sub-categories of traditional rugs, including Caucasian, which originated in southern Russia; Tibetan, which are among the most bold and bright of traditional rugs; and Indian, which became popular in the 18th and 19th centuries and feature many small flowers, plants, rosettes and leaves.
Bright colors and unusual shapes are what differentiate a contemporary rug from a traditional one. Many people consider them artwork for the floor, and indeed, many of the most popular contemporary rug styles were designed by modern artists. Almost anything goes in a contemporary rug; circles, squares, rectangles or wavy lines are common. Colors from a narrow palette to every shade in the rainbow. Most contemporary rugs are made by machine and can incorporate just about any fabric that can be woven.
The advantage to the homeowner is that a contemporary rug can be found that will enhance just about any décor – traditional or modern. It can be used to coordinate the color scheme of a room, or serve as a central focal point. The possibilities really are endless, as the choices can also seem to be.
Many purists in the world of area rugs feel that there is no such thing as a transitional rug – that is, one that is somewhere in between traditional and contemporary. To them a rug is either patterned after the antique, ancient styles or it is not. However, it is hard to deny that a great many popular rugs today have elements of both incorporated into them. For example, not all contemporary rugs necessarily have lots of bold, bright colors. They may have the common burgundy and earth-tone hues of a traditional rug, but incorporate some unique geometric patterns and designs. Thus they serve the needs of homeowners and designers who are looking to modernize a room’s décor without going to the extremes of placing bright oranges, blues and greens on the floor.
Not to be confused with the more trendy shag rugs of the 1970s, flokati rugs have been a mainstay of Greek culture for centuries. Not only used as floor coverings, these all-wool creations were used as clothing as well. Originally flokati rugs were simply the natural color of the sheep from which the wool was harvested. Today they are dyed to every color imaginable, making them great choices for any contemporary setting. Flokati rugs are easy to clean – they usually can simple be thrown into a standard washing machine – but they also must be combed in order to achieve their desirable “long-hair” look.
Braided rugs are an American tradition that came into being for a very practical reason. The homes in early America usually had rough, hard wooden floors. Something easy-to-make and durable was needed to cover them. Hence the braided rug. Usually in the shape of an oval, round or half-oval (hearth rug), braided rugs have today been elevated to the status of an art form. One unique feature of braided rugs is that they are one of the few rug styles that are reversible.
Sometimes referred to by the alternate name Native American rugs, this style is mainly associated with the type of intricate weaving mastered by the Navajo Indians of the American Southwest. Common among them are stripes and simple geometric patterns; seldom do you see anything but straight lines throughout. They add a unique, rugged lodge-look to any room in which they are used. Many people place them on the wall instead of the floor, which permits their intricate beauty to be appreciated from anywhere in the room.
This is a catchall style of rugs that can include just about anything. Examples would be rugs with animal prints or scenes and shapes that appeal to children. Of course sports themes and team logos are well-liked on novelty rugs. Rugs with a country theme such as roosters or farm animals are also popular and can add a unique flair to an otherwise ordinary kitchen.
When it comes to decorating with area rugs, they sky truly is the limit. If you would like to explore the many styles of rugs available to you in greater detail, please visit the online showroom of Rugs Direct. There you will find well over 60,000 choices to help you personalize and vitalize every room in your home.