If you have been looking around your apartment, condo or house and thinking about upgrading your home décor to a style that is more sophisticated, one of the easiest ways you can add glamor and artistic flare to your space is through area rugs. Not only do they rev up the style quotient of your home, but they add the kind of layers, textures and colors you would expect from a professionally designed décor.
Before you head to your favorite online store for designer rugs, consider that the wrong color or style can stand out (and not in a good way), instead of creating that cohesive, polished look you crave. And since there is no shortage of chic styles and patterns to consider, we’ll provide some tips to help you plan your area rugs and integrate them into a fabulously fresh new décor scheme.
The Historical Link Between Area Rugs and Luxury Living
Have you ever wondered where the idea of area rugs became associated with wealth and opulence? You may be surprised to learn that the first indoor rugs were weaved from sheep wool, natural grass fibers and camel hair in the Middle East, as early as 3000 BC.
The oldest surviving rug is the rug of Pazyryk, which was made in 1000 BC, a tapestry that has 300 knots per square inch. The antique rug rests in the St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, and features lotus buds, griffins and a border of twenty-four deer. For nomadic tribes, rugs were essential to comfort as well as hygiene, and helped reduce health problems from sand ticks and other insects.
From the Middle East and Asia, rugs were imported around the world, thanks in part to the Mongol invasion and trade routes, and each culture began to develop their own version of opulent area rugs. In the English medieval era, tapestries were imported from Turkey, Persia and Asia to replace rush flooring. Castles and the homes of noble families had traditional “rush” flooring, which was essentially made from straw. Rather than removing the soiled material, the English placed more straw on top, and mixed in various herbs like lavender to offset the offensive odor.
After millions of deaths due to bacterial and viral infection during the plague, rush floors were removed for the wealthy, and replaced by rugs which could be cleaned. Tapestries remained an expense that only the wealthy could afford to buy and maintain, which began the long lineage and association between affluence and high-quality, artistic area rugs.
How to Choose the Right Rug for Your Space
What kind of design scheme would you like to create for your home? If you are looking for a classic theme, focus on a traditional area rug with patterns and symbols that are meaningful to you. Did you know there is actually a “language” for rugs that can be translated to a mantra for your home or family, based on the pattern you choose?
Contemporary styled rugs are available and affordable, in brightly colored hues, patterns or solid designs. Newer rugs tend to be lower maintenance in terms of cleaning, but they are also less resilient to daily wear than higher quality area rugs. Nonetheless, they add a layer of richness to any décor, whether you select a classic styled rug, or a more modern and contemporary look.
Where to Use Them in Your Home
For many homeowners, a tile, wood or laminate floor makes practical sense. Not only are hard surface floors easier to clean and more durable than wall-to-wall carpeting, they are also healthier. Indoor carpeting has been proven to reduce indoor air quality, by trapping allergens like pet dander, dust and microbes. Some types of carpet, and the adhesives used to install them, also contribute to increased volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), which can lead to respiratory diseases and certain types of cancer.
Area rugs not only soften flooring for your feet, but they provide a layer of insulation against cold floors. They can be used year-round, or for cold and wet winter months, to improve warmth, reduce floor drafts and increase comfort. Rugs are perfect to define areas like conversation nooks (combine with two arm chairs and an occasional table), or underneath a dining table. They are ideal in front entrance way areas to help absorb dirt and moisture, and to improve safety on slippery floors.
Cleaning and Care of Area Rugs
Now that you have hunted and found the perfect area rug(s) for your home, learning how to care for them will help you get the most mileage from your luxury tapestry.
Modern rugs have features like color fast fibers, that make them durable to vacuum and wash with a rug shampooer. However, if you have invested in an expensive, handwoven tapestry such as a Persian Rug, it is important to clean it regularly, but with caution. Antique rugs (the very pinnacle of style and luxury) can be easily damaged, and fibers can fray or lose color, if harsh chemicals are used.
Follow these steps to protect your investment:
- Prepare the rug with a gentle but thorough vacuum on both the top and bottom side, to remove dirt and dust.
- On the back side of the rug in a small area, do a quick test for colorfastness. Apply your cleaner in a small amount, and rub it into the fabric and leave for 2-4 hours. If no fading occurs, you can clean the rug gently, using a diluted and mild dish detergent, and a bucket of warm (not hot) water.
- Rinse the rug thoroughly outdoors with a light spray garden hose, or buckets of fresh cold water.
- Wring as much moisture as you can from the rug, and hang it to dry.
- Replace the rug in your home, and gently use your hands or a light brushing with a soft broom to loft the fibers, and fluff the carpet back to its original pile and softness.
To incorporate a beautiful area rug into your décor, remember that the rug does not have to exactly match the furnishings. For a sophisticated look, choose one or two base colors from the area rug, and incorporate those colors within the room by adding toss pillows and other coordinating accessories, for a professionally designed look.