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Fifty or sixty years ago people shopped for rugs much differently than they do today. There was a greater emphasis on the origin of the rug and even its historical background. People would speak of their "Persian rug," or that their rugs were "imported from India." To someone knowledgeable about the design of area rugs, this had great meaning. Rugs made in China, for example, had a very different look from ones made in the Middle East. And since most everything at the time was hand-made and truly custom, people took great pride in identifying the nationality of their area rugs.
Rugs also were, by comparison, much more expensive than they are today. As a percentage of family income, a rug could easily be an extreme investment to a typical homeowner. It not only had to be of such high quality that it would last many, many years, but any redecorating of the room had to focus on the rug as the centerpiece. It was the one design element that was NOT going to be replaced! It was not uncommon for a rug to be passed down generation to generation, as it was frequently the prized possession of the family.
Area rugs were also not considered a "commodity" as they often are viewed today. You couldn't go into a department store or even a furniture store and expect to find a good selection of high-quality rugs. (Big box retailers did not yet exist!) Instead, most all rugs were purchased from dedicated rug merchants, or imported through the use of a broker. Frequently rugs were purchased sight-unseen, but quality and origin were more important than color or style. The times truly were different.
As consumer expectations evolved and rugs became a much more universal addition to the home, technology stepped in to fill the void. New fabrics were invented and machines were designed that could weave a rug in a fraction of the time it takes an artisan to hand-knot a masterpiece. To a less discrimination customer, these new synthetic, machine-made rugs looked every bit as good as the much-more-expensive imports. And that was the key - the cost. Instead of investing the equivalent of three-months' salary in a floor covering, a homeowner could now buy one for a few hundred dollars.
Today rugs are available just about everywhere. There have never been so many different styles, colors, sizes, patterns and fibers available. At Rugs Direct you can find some 70,000 different rugs, many at prices a 1950's family would think far too good to be true! It's easy - and affordable - to decorate every room in one's home today with area rugs, and many people now change the rugs with the season. Why not?
For more tips on decorating with area rugs, check these resources on the Rugs Direct website.