The word Rug was first used in the 1550s in English to give meaning to the coarse fabric. It is originally of a Scandinavian origin in Norwegian dialect as rugga for a coarse coverlet, the meaning of rug evolved to coverlet/wrap, and then to “mat for the floor” in the 1800s. 

Before this official nomenclature, the ancient tribes made rugs by weaving reeds and grasses together to keep the cold ground warm. Archaeologists found evidence of rugs dating back more than 4,000 years in Egyptian and Mesopotamian tombs. Pazyryk Carpet is the oldest surviving rug (500BC), uncovered in present-day Siberia. Despite its age, the carpet has an extremely advanced and intricate technique with rich color fibers.

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Pazyryk Carpet, Style rugs ©

Over the next years after the agriculture bloom, rugs were woven out of goat hair, camel, and sheep. Originally the purpose of the rugs was quite practical; to keep the floors warm but with animal domestication, civilizations began to use fancier rugs as a sign of class and prestige. This prestige is visible in the gold and silver weaved into woolen rugs in Persia. 

Similarly, different cultures in Asia developed their styles of rugs with regional techniques and materials. Moreover, the English had their version of rugs in the 16th century; Hay flooring. The art of weaving was brought to the European continents by traders from Persia and the Middle East around 1000 CE, and since then slowly rugs have become a household thing.

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Persian rug in making ©

Rugs are a timeless element in an interior design. With material and style experimentation over the years, rug designs range from traditional hand-woven rugs to machine-made abstract and colorful rugs and it would be hard to imagine a stylish and cozy home without one. There are many factors before and after you go on a journey of rug selection and each will affect the way your home looks and feels.

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Kashmiri Rug ©
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Rug fitted in a Victorian painting ©The Telegraph

1. Get to know them and yourself | Style rugs

This first step is more important than you think, it’s a decision based on your lifestyle. Before investing in a rug, one knows what they are getting, the types-hand-woven or machine made? What sort of material –wool or synthetic? Patterned or a solid block color? Finding the perfect antique rug is only the start of this tedious but beautiful process.

The color and texture of the rug will reflect your house and the people in it. For example, the purpose of the rugs depends on the occupation, family members, and where you live. A home office would want a professional but aesthetic rug while a home with kids would make you want to choose a rug that’s more prone to wear and tear than just a fancy piece of thick fabric.

Finding out things will be a process in itself of pros and cons. There will be self-discovery and ample surprising facts. To make it more intimate and easier one can form photo albums and store photos of rugs taking the selection to another level. It provides a great comparison in the spaces, colors, and feel of the rugs. After this meditative process, once you start rug shopping, your style will naturally surface.

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Knowing your rug ©

2. Choose the rug first!

If one is looking forward to redecorating their room from scratch, choose the rug first. It ties and holds the room together. If this factor is ignored, the selection might prove more difficult, and end up buying a neutral, conventional rug. By the thoughts of an interior stylist Amber Lewis, “When we’re designing a room, we’ll choose the rug and then throw pillows, textiles for curtains, and more on the floor with it, and pick whatever goes with the rug best.”

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An example of space in synch with the rug ©

3. Understand your room | Style rugs

The perfect rug is one of those details that makes the room feel “Got it all together.” During the “get to know your rugs” the most important factor is the room you are going to house the rug in. Make sure to get down the sizes and understand it. Look at the room layout, placements of furniture, windows, and essential commodities. 

Ask yourself why are you buying this rug? Are you going to use the space to sip your coffee or make it a social space? Do you want to be able to sit on it – is it important how it feels underfoot? Is it going to be in an area that has a lot of foot traffic? Will it be partially covered by a sofa or the center table? Decide what will suit the room best and the needs of the space, also consider the kind of mood you want to create. Considering these things before selection will help you make a rough image of what the room wants.

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Example of understanding and measuring the rom before buying a rug ©
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Use of rug near the window pane ©

4. Practical before aesthetic 

Choosing fancy rugs is always a go-to, but the original purpose of rugs remains; offering an added layer of protection to your floors and controlling the temperature. Blindly selecting according to the looks and sizes can prove disastrous when your pet would easily scratch over the intricate design. Rugs help to warm up or soften hard floorings especially along hallways and cold bathrooms. 

Besides adding warmth, rugs play an important role in the control of volume. A joint family having dinner, dogs barking and kids screeching, this noise can be unbearable. A nice rug and rug pad helps to absorb such sounds and create a peaceful atmosphere. 

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Wool Flokati rug, known for noise reduction ©

5. In all shapes and size | Style rugs

After inspecting the material, practicality, and space, decide the shape and size of the rug. Check the sizes of the interiors to avoid disproportionality by buying a feet larger rug or smaller rug. 

Furthermore, the aim plays an important role, do you want to make the room look smaller? Or bigger? Which areas do you want to accentuate? Smaller rugs look and act great at the foot of a bed or the chair near the windowpane. Larger rugs are best used in rooms with heightened ceilings and open layouts, which help in creating smaller, more intimate zones.

The shape of the rug can be a personal inclination towards circles or squares. Either one will bring character to the room. Organic shapes blend into the circulation of the room making it functional as well as aesthetics.

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Hallway rug merging with the space ©
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Organic shaped rug enabling circulation ©

6. Let it define 

Rug choices can make or break the space. They form intangible borders, especially in homes with an open-plan. In a smaller home, the right rug can make it look bigger, or smaller if the room is large. They act as a visual focal point that directs guests to social spaces and create introverted spaces in the same room. 

Be bold with it and use this function to create invisible partitions. Whether you choose to go with woven or woolen, patterned or plain, bold or neutral, the right rug bonds all the pieces, anchors a room, and adds a whole new appearance to the design. Not many décor elements can do this.

Patterned rug defining a semi-private area ©
Antique rug defining a social space ©

7. Layer it! 

Layering can sound like a tedious job but mixing rugs can be easy. You won’t until you see how layering affects the room. Experimenting and moving things around also proves to be very therapeutic. The designer behind Studio NYC Design Nancy Fire, advises to play-experiment with angles and change the furniture to see what works. She adds, “When they’re placed differently on the rug, they can bring a different sensibility and can enlarge the room.” Once you start experimenting, you’ll realize just how versatile your space can be.

One can start with plain rugs to just work with colors, dark on light to make it eye-catching, and gradually can go bold and dramatic. For instance, a shag over an heirloom rug will add character without compromising on the warmth, and a pattern over the pattern will add jazziness with subtlety.

Layering of simple solid-colored rug and a patterned rug ©
Merging of two spaces by layering of extreme rugs ©

8. Color and Pattern | Style rugs

A great thing about rugs is the textures, patterns, and colors they offer. Because of these varied aspects, one isn’t locked into just one pattern of the room, you change up wall colors or furniture fabric several times over the rug life. There is no right or tone of colors, don’t try too hard to match colors. These answers are into the rug itself, pick a few dominant shades from the rug, and use them to layer or arrange the décor. Colors have effects on the visual and emotional landscape of the room. 

For example, dark colors make objects appear smaller, and light colors in a small room will make it look elaborate and in it, a warm color will make it cooler. To start with trying a woolen rug with a subtle palette. And for a richer and rustic look try traditional rugs or contemporary ones with complex textures.

Rugs with high texture and patterns tend to dominate space, hence they should be placed at spaces you want to accentuate. Look at the room holistically and analyze if the rug can be seen in all its glory, let it compliment the solid colors, or balance the clean lines of your minimalistic design. 

Color contrasts ©
Color contrasts ©
Light rug with warm colored interiors
Light rug with warm colored interiors
Calm and decluttered look ©
Calm and decluttered look ©
A bold pattern in a minimalist decor ©
A bold pattern in a minimalist decor ©
Simple but effective patterned rug ©
Simple but effective patterned rug ©
Sheepskin rugs over chairs ©
Sheepskin rugs over chairs ©

9. Redefine its purpose

Redefine the positions of where rugs are used. Be creative and mindful of where else do you need a rug. Dining room rugs are always a go-to, they warm up a chilly kitchen and provide softens from the kitchen tiles. But imagine draping small rugs over dining chairs, this inexpensive décor elevates the character of the most functional element. 

Similarly, placing a vintage rug in exchange for a worn-out bath mat will make your toes warm after a bath and give a rough surface on the slippery tiles. Further going crazy, try hanging rugs on the walls. A solid-colored rug near a window or a circular over the bed, let it express its design at the forefront, you will be surprised how complete it makes the room. How much ever-crazy your redefinition is if you do it for the right reasons it will always work. 

Rug at the Jacuzzi ©
Rug at the Jacuzzi ©
Rug as wall art ©
Rug as wall art ©

10. Looking after it | Style rugs

Rugs warm up spaces and add a character to the rooms. They provide soft places for playing, movie watching, and partying. But to make them last for years, they need to be maintained, and a big part of that is regular maintenance and cleaning. 

Professional cleaners help keep rugs in the top and original quality. Though these services can be expensive, for even quarter monthly cleaning. So, a few things one should follow without a doubt is vacuuming after rough use, moving and dusting from time-time, and washing them with special shampoos. This will help improve the life of the rug.  

Rugs have magic space making powers. Aside from warmth and coziness into any home. While creating spaces architects plan and add architectural elements to amplify the psychology and look of a room. Including rugs in your architectural design planning, can be a simple but the best space making decision. They inject color into the plainest room, absorb noise, help declutter space, and can be used as a partition. Your house may look fine in its absence but its presence along with perfect styling will reflect a story that’s never been told before. 



Vaishnavi is an Architect and an aspiring Psychologist. She believes that in the attempt of understanding life and ourselves we have been constantly creating forms of work and art. Through this perspective she discovers architecture in almost everything and pens it down.