Rugs 101: What We Love & What We Avoid



Have you ever gotten lost scrolling through Pinterest and every home decor website looking for a rug that isn't going to break the bank, has the right colors and style, comes in the right size, and gets the hubby's approval too?


Yeah, we know how that all goes. Hitting every single one of your wants for rugs is as frustrating as house hunting can be (we'll talk about that in a later post). Today we're talking about the different types of rugs, what they're made from, and which type makes sense for which type of space in your home!






VISCOSE RUGS


Let's start with the bad... Viscose is a material meant to mimic silk, both in feel and aesthetic. Viscose rugs have a characteristic silky sheen, but they are actually made from wood pulp that goes through a heavy chemical process to create a weave-able yarn. These rugs have a luxurious look to them, but I do not recommend them for clients because they are highly temperamental for long term maintenance. The fibers that make up the rug can get crushed very easily (think of furniture legs sitting on top of a rug for months/years). Also, the wood pulp content of a viscose rug allows for quick liquid absorption and yellowing, even with water. Unfortunately, we have learned this from personal experience after choosing a viscose rug for a bedroom. The client just absolutely loved the style, and didn't foresee heavy use on that rug, so she decided to take the chance. Then one glass of water accident later, the rug had to be pulled out from under all of her furniture and replaced because the water had completely discolored the rug!


If you see viscose on a list of materials, just run away. We know the price looks nice, but there's always a reason! And the expensive viscose rugs? Run from those too!


POLYPROPYLENE RUGS


Polypropylene, also known as olefin, rugs are very popular because they are able to withstand heavy use and maintain a soft feel over the life of the rug. These synthetic fiber rugs are often machine manufactured, so they are more affordable than a handwoven option. The only other option that is more durable is a wool rug, but those tend to be more expensive. Synthetic material rugs do well with water based stains, but oil-based stains are harder to pull out without professional intervention, so keep that in mind.


Polypropylene rugs are great all over the house - in the living room, hallways, and bedrooms. We actually have two polypropylene rugs in our living room and loft upstairs, and we love them! They stand up to three slobbering dogs too, and lasted during those potty-training stages, so that's a win in our book!




POLYESTER/COTTON BLEND RUGS


Poly cotton blends have similar properties as polypropylene rugs, but the addition of cotton gives rugs more breathability, as it would in clothing with cotton content. These blended rugs are less susceptible to shrinkage, wrinkles, pilling, and static as well. These work all over the house, and these blends come in a lot of styles that have the look of a vintage rug, at much less cost. Make sure you use a good rug pad underneath - we recommend felt pads, especially on wood floors. For extra protection from unruly corners, you can also use plastic rug corners to keep them from rolling up and having any tripping accidents.


NATURAL FIBER RUGS


Sisal and jute rugs fall into this category, and these materials take on a braided look. Sisal is a stiff fiber made from Mexican agave leaves, spun into yarn-like material, and typically are dyed in neutral colors. The fibers are very strong, so they can hold up in high traffic areas like entryways and hallways, but this also means they are not all that soft. Jute is made from the stalks of the jute plant found in Bangladesh and India. This makes them softer than sisal rugs, but both are still stiffer than your other options above. These aren't the easiest to clean because dirt and food bits can get caught in between the weave, and fibers can break over time as the rug is used (Have you ever been poked in the foot by a stray fiber? Yeah, it hurts!).


Because we love the look of a natural fiber rug, we typically layer one with a softer option on top in main living and family rooms, like you see below in our living room. It's the perfect combo of natural texture and durable softness. If you don't have kids (or really messy friends), they also work in a dining room, where furniture won't crush the fibers as easily.



WOOL RUGS


Wool is the best natural fiber option for rugs that we love to spec for our projects. This is a great option if you are worried about low-VOC emissions and environmentally friendly home decor options. If these rugs are properly maintained, these can last for decades, and are definitely an investment for your home. The fibers bounce back much easier if furniture must be moved on and off, and it maintains its softness over time. Wool rugs do shed due to the construction of the rugs with short staple fibers, so don't worry if that continues after your install. Your vacuum will become a good friend with a wool rug!


VINTAGE RUGS


Vintage rugs can provide SO much character to a space. Although there are printed, vintage-looking options on the market, nothing beats the real deal. I feel like vintage rugs contain stories and memories of their past owners. I love thinking about the threadbare areas, and imagining where they laid before in their previous home. You know that when a rug has lasted 40, 50, or even 100 years, and you can trust that it's going to continue to hold up. The patterns in them typically mean that staining can be easily disguised, and the fact that they are constructed of wool makes it possible to clean them. If you can afford vintage, it's always worth some time sourcing for that perfect option.


We've included our collection of favorite rugs below for you to peruse - if you have any questions, feel free to reach out, and we would be happy to help! Happy rug shopping friends!



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Hi, I'm Madi!

When I'm not designing beautiful homes, I am at home in Ventura with my husband and three dogs. You will find me biking along the ocean, kayaking in the harbor, or looking for the best local tacos. 

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Madison Nicole Design is a full service interior design studio located in Santa Barbara, California. Madison and team take on projects of all sizes, from furniture styling to large scale remodels, locally and abroad via e-design services.

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