Just like people, pets, and Pour La Victoire shooties, area rugs have their own inherent, inimitable personality that makes them the perfect match for particular decorating styles. If you’ve struggled with figuring out which rug weave works for your home’s decor, we’ve got your primer right here.
A note before we begin: Like the hoary old tropes that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition, wear white after Labor Day, or eat ice cream for dinner (hey, if it’s with waffles and raspberry sauce, it’s basically a complete meal!), many decorating rules are meant to be broken. So if you come across a rug you simply can’t live without, even if it’s not a conventional fit for your decorating style, we say go for it. Taking risks with your design can pay off in a big way. . . . And if your newly acquired area rug turns out to not quite make the grade in one room, you can always shift it to a different space.
Woven Cotton Rugs
Lightweight and easygoing, woven cotton rugs are perfect for laid-back décor styles, such as preppy, coastal, and Scandinavian. Bright stripes and geometrics are your new best friend for decking out a tropical-themed space, while cotton rag rugs and woven cotton rugs in retro patterns like fair isle and herringbone are a fun touch for vintage or eclectic rooms.
Hooked Cotton Rugs
With their soft, bouncy feel and retro appeal, hooked cotton rugs fit seamlessly into country, casual chic, arts and crafts, and English country decorating styles. Choose a hooked cotton rug with a subtler palette to add extra texture to a Scandinavian-themed room, or a pretty floral to complement a Mediterranean style.
Woven Wool Rugs
Woven wool rugs have a throwback charm that makes them a natural for bohemian/eclectic, rustic, African (especially Moroccan), and Southwestern décor. But we think their low profile and hand-hewn texture is unexpectedly stunning when paired with clean-lined furniture in midcentury modern rooms.
Hooked Wool Rugs
Soft, plush, and instantly recognizable, hooked wool rugs have a traditional look and feel that’s ideal for a variety of time-tested decorating styles, from French and English country to Mediterranean and Asian. And we’ve never met a room with slick, contemporary décor that couldn’t benefit from the softness and texture that a hooked wool rug brings to the floor.
These rugs are all about creating a lush, dig-your-toes-in texture, which makes them the ideal fit for intrinsically glam decorating styles like Hollywood Regency and sophisticated classic. You’ll also find the fluffier varieties of hand-knotted rugs in many Moroccan and Scandinavian homes; these are almost universally in light neutrals or pale pastels. One of our favorite uses for a posh, patterned hand-knotted rug is in a pared-down, transitional style room, where it softens the harder angles of the furniture.
Wool Tufted and Carved
Another beloved and instantly familiar style, tufted and carved wool rugs have made showstopping appearances in a huge range of decorating styles, from traditional English to Mediterranean, traditional Asian, art deco, and eclectic. In a bold graphic pattern, they’re also conversation starters in contemporary décor.
While these rugs used to be reserved for the most casual of beach houses, the enormous variety of indoor/outdoor rugs now available mean that there’s a style for every type of décor—think zigzags and graphic patterns in contemporary décor, African- or Indian-inspired styles in eclectic or boho rooms, and plaids or skinny stripes in casual chic spaces. PET, a recycled polyester material that looks and feels (and is washable!) like woven wool, is especially good for adding a bit of sophistication to a room, without breaking the bank.
Jute rugs are the workhorses of the decorating world. They’ve long been used in country, rustic, and Southwestern decorating, but these days, there are so many eye-catching patterns to choose from that they work beautifully in contemporary, eclectic, and casual chic spaces, as well. Bonus: the newer generation of jute rugs has a softer feel underfoot. They’re eco-friendly, too, because they’re made of all-natural fibers and colored with vegetable-based dyes.
Not for the faint of heart (or hate-to-clean types), paper rugs are the floor décor of choice for Asian decorating. But why not create an unexpected surprise by including a paper rug in a contemporary, midcentury modern, or African-style room?