The Rugs Of Today – Traditional And Contemporary Rugs Awash In Soft Color Palettes, As Classic Bold, Strong Colors Remain

Posted on | October 20, 2014 | No Comments

I’ve heard the question posed before, does the room make the rug or does the rug make the room? Hands down, I am definitely a believer that the rug makes the room. Without a rug, the room is incomplete, lacking the ability to make a real statement. The question is, how do you go about selecting the right rug these days? There’s a lot to know, and so much has changed over the past several years. North Carolina Design reached out to the veteran mother daughter team of Nelda Lay and Cynthia McLaren, of the Durham Oriental carpet showroom, The Persian Carpet, for a little insight and education on rugs.

Images Courtesy of The Persian Carpet ©

It’s definitely a family affair at The Persian Carpet. Cynthia’s husband, Bruce McLaren, is also a part of the business, and it was Nelda’s husband, Doug Lay, who began the business with her back in 1976. Since then, they have been addressing the needs of discerning home owners and interior designers across the state while also traveling the world sourcing incredibly beautiful rugs.

In both traditional and contemporary styles, big changes have taken place in the past several years. Strong colors have found their match in a softer color palette. “Rugs have changed a great deal, from being very traditional with lots of reds and blues to more subtle tones, in more of a transitional look,” notes Nelda. “The designs are still traditional, but where you used to see 10 or 12 colors, you may see 3 colors or many times there will be shades of one color, tone on tone.”

It is clear that the rug market is attentively following color trends much more so than ever has occurred in the past. Soft colors, neutral tones are clearly present in the selections. “These muted tones are what is being seen in contemporary rugs as well – We’re seeing colors like pale blues, grays, and ivory,” Cynthia affirmed.

As much change as there has been, both Nelda and Cynthia agree that many people are still drawn to the very traditional look. “These rugs come out of Turkey and Afghanistan and are very popular right now,” Cynthia explains. “They are very good reproductions of antiques, made with hand spun wool and vegetable dyes. They tend to be more expensive but that is because they are so well made.”

Selecting the right rug may seem like a daunting task, but in the hands of professionals, it’s really not a tall order. Knowing their customer’s budget, Cynthia and Nelda then determine if they are looking for something that is contemporary or traditional. Once they know what colors they are working with, it’s time to head to the stacks and search for the rug.

As customers start looking, the first question that invariably comes up has to do with knotting. This is where the education concerning rugs begins. “They will mistakenly have the idea that more knots per square inch means a higher quality rug,” offers Nelda. “Quality can be in a very large knotted rug or a very small knotted rug. You see, knotting has to do with the design in the rug. A formal type rug with an intricate design requires very small knots. A simpler design can take larger knots. Large knots translate into a more geometric design while smaller knots translate into a more formal design.”

As customers identify a few rugs that they like, the rugs are pulled from the stacks and laid out on the floor so that they can be looked at side by side. “A customer may have been leaning towards one, but next to another they don’t like it as much,” Cynthia explains. “We encourage them to take the rugs home and try them. This allows them to confirm that the size is right and that the colors are right. Lighting plays a big role. Sometimes colors can translate differently from the showroom to your home, so this is an important thing to do.”

As for the where and how to place a rug in a room Nelda easily answers that. “For a dining room, there should be at least two feet of rug on each side of the table, so that when someone pushes their chair back from the table they don’t fall off the edge of the rug. In the bedroom, some people want a large rug that goes under the bed and extends out to the sides, with plenty of room to walk on the rug. Other people will instead opt for 3 rugs – smaller ones on each side of the bed and one at the end of the bed.”

“When placing a rug in the living room, it’s again a matter of taste. Some people like a large rug that pretty much fills the room, except for a nice border around. You want at least a foot of the wood showing around the rug. Others prefer an accent rug, say in front of the sofa – under the coffee table. The third option is a medium sized rug that doesn’t fill the room but is larger than an accent. This rug reaches under the front legs of the sofa and chairs to keeps the rug from moving, which also looks better. With these guidelines, and by first trying the rugs out in your home, you can be assured that you make the right selection.”

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