Interior Design Ideas: Various Types of Rugs
An interesting rug transforms the floor into a focal point. From fine antique Persian carpets to relatively inexpensive rag or braided mats, there is a design and a price to suit every decorative scheme. As well as the wealth of traditional handmade types, there are also manufactured rugs produced in contemporary designs — an exciting and original way of dressing up a modern room.
The three basic types of rug are: flat-weaves, such as kelims and dhurries; pile rugs (often from the Middle or Far East); and braided, hooked or rag rugs assembled from scraps of different materials. Prices vary according to the age and rarity of the design, composition (with cotton the cheapest and silk the most expensive) and method of production — for example, a good handmade Persian carpet will be very dense, with about 125 knots or tufts per square centimetre (800 per square inch), and therefore very expensive.
These rugs are woven and have no pile. They are generally cheaper than pile carpets, and are usually made of cotton or of wool and cotton, although silk is also used. The two main traditional types of flat-weave rugs are kelims and dhurries. Kelims are produced in Turkey and Afghanistan. Patterns are geometric and the vegetable dyes used produce rich, warm colours that mellow beautifully with age. Most kelims are woollen.
Dhurries are Indian flat-weaves, usually made of cotton, although up-market silk versions exist. Designs tend to be modern interpretations of traditional motifs; borders are common. The increasing popularity of these rugs means that they are available in a huge range of colours and patterns. Dhurries are easy to maintain — they can even be reversed — and are fairly cheap.
Serapes are coarse flat-weave rugs from Mexico. They are often fringed, and come in a variety of bright cheerful colours and patterns.
Traditional pile rugs are made by knotting tufts of wool (or silk) — the more knots per square centimetre the better the quality. Many of these carpets are very expensive and ‘collectable’. Although there are some adequate reproductions, it is hard to match the clear, distinct patterns of originals. Typical designs and colours vary according to the region and the period.
Chinese rugs are thick, often sculpted, and they feature pictorial motifs such as flowers, dragons and butterflies. Yellow, pink, black and blue are common colours for Chinese rugs.
Persian carpets, from central Asia, display stylized or geometric motifs in rich reds and blues.
Turkish carpets are likewise produced in rich, glowing colours. Many are prayer rugs, typically with a design showing an arch supported by pillars.
Today, hand or machine-made pile carpets in graphic, contemporary designs are produced. Although those by ‘name’ designers and one-offs commissioned from hand-weavers are obviously expensive, cheaper mass-produced versions can be very reasonable.
Flokatis are inexpensive shaggy-pile wool rugs from Greece, usually white or off-white. Ryas are shaggy-pile Finnish rugs in contemporary designs. Numdahs are cheap felt rugs from India which have birds, animals or flowers embroidered on an off-white background.
Braided, Hooked and Rag Rugs
These are cheerful, handmade rugs produced using scraps of fabric or wool. Antiques — especially early North American ones — can be expensive, but their modern equivalents are much more reasonable.
Braided rugs are made by plaiting and coiling material. They are usually oval but can be round as well. Hooked rugs consist of a looped pile worked in a pattern or naïve design. Rag rugs consist of irregular stripes in bright cheerful colours.
* Care for rugs by moving them regularly to avoid excessive wear or fading in one spot. Clean them by beating them with a carpet-beater, rather than by vacuuming. Never use strong detergent, steam or excess water to wash out stains. If necessary, have the rug treated by a specialist. Frayed edges can be mended by blanket-stitching, but if the rug is valuable you should seek expert help for any repair work that must be undertaken.
* Secure rugs on hard floors by placing them over rubber or webbed underlay. Underlay will prolong the life of the rug as well as preventing it from sliding underfoot.
Making a Rag Rug
Choose rags made of the same type of material and of the same weight. Wash the pieces and cut them into strips 10cm/4in long and 2.5cm/1 in wide.
For the backing you will need a piece of hessian (burlap), cut to the required size, with 5cm/2in allowed all round for finishing. Work with the wrong side facing you.
To insert the rags in the backing you will need a round-pointed peg.
1. Poke a hole in one corner and push one end of a strip through until it protrudes by just under half.
2. Poke a second hole four threads along (about 1cm/ 1/2in) and insert the other end of the strip through this hole.
3. Poke one end of another strip into the same hole as the last. Make a further hole four threads along and push the other end of this second strip through. Continue working in straight rows, 4cm/ 1-1/2in apart. Check the density after a few rows. Finish edges by applying latex-basedand folding over a double hem.