When you’re considering adding an area rug to your space, one of your first thoughts is probably about what your rug should look like. There are so many things to consider — color, pattern, pile height. Not to mention how your rug will mesh with the overall style of your home.
While some people seem to have an innate sense of interior design and can somehow instinctively pluck out the perfect piece to complement and complete their living room or dining room, not all of us are so lucky. And if you’re not one of those people, it can be really difficult to make a decision with so many options out there.
One of the simplest ways to narrow down the endless array of options is to try and pinpoint what your style is overall. That said, there are a lot of niche categories within the broader style context, ranging from minimalist octagons to boho striped rugs and everything in between.
But for the purposes of keeping things simple, let’s break down rugs into three categories: contemporary, traditional and transitional. While we’re going to mostly focus on contemporary rugs for this article, we’ll also break down these other classifications so you have a broader understanding of where your tastes, and your next rug, fall on the spectrum.
What Do These Categories Mean?
While some rugs may fall in between certain descriptors, it’s useful to know the broader categories so you know what to look for when you’re choosing an area rug for your room.
Traditional rugs are what they sound like. They’re classy and sophisticated, with familiar motifs and patterns. Think of Persian, Moroccan, or oriental rugs — the sort of thing you’d expect to inherit as a family heirloom. They tend to be lower pile and are made in fairly neutral colors. If your home is full of vintage furniture and you tend to like a bit of glamor or granny chic is your aesthetic, your style may be traditional.
Transitional rugs fall between traditional and contemporary. If you’re not super concerned about what’s trending when it comes to your home decor and are attracted to anything from animal print to more traditional rugs, your style may be transitional.
Transitional rugs tend to be a bit more casual, or are sort of adapted and updated versions of more familiar styles. Seeking out transitional pieces is also ideal if you feel inclined to change up your decor on a regular basis because they sit between the past and the present.
Something like our Paloma Rug may sit in the transitional space to maintain accessibility. It’s a geometric rug that gives the general impression of a most traditional rug, with a more Southwestern and modern abstract flare.
What Makes a Rug Contemporary?
Contemporary rugs are modern rugs. Contemporary rugs tend to be a bit more Western in style, and are defined by stark contrasts, free-form patterns and overall more abstract styling. It’s a little less strict as a category — a wide range of very different rugs can fit into this category.
Modern area rugs can be multi-colored and vibrant. But they can also be simple, in a single color like taupe. It’s perhaps easier to classify contemporary area rugs but what they aren’t (traditional, transitional) than what they are.
For instance, our Flora Rug is a new arrival that features bold colors and a beautiful print that — unlike many more traditional pieces — doesn’t repeat. It’s a single image that commands all the attention, which makes it contemporary.
At the same time, our Petra Rug is also contemporary. It’s simple and serene, but it doesn’t have any of the features of the other categories and is more suited to a modern decor style.
If you find yourself drawn to a wide range of furniture and decor, but none of it could really be considered traditional or vintage, you might favor a more contemporary style. Abstract rugs like our Fez Rug may be the perfect companion to your seating area, adding some artistic flair beneath your coffee table or around your sofas.
What Else Should You Consider?
In addition to style, consider how easy or difficult it may be to care for your rug. While you may favor the traditional style, many hand-tufted rugs, flatweave rugs, shag rugs, or vintage and antique finds will require professional cleaning.
Particularly if you’re placing runner rugs in a high-traffic area like an entryway or are looking to place a large area rug somewhere you spend a lot of time in, the ability to keep it clean is key.
One way to handle this is to consider low pile materials, like jute or sisal, which are less likely to hold onto dirt. Choosing a natural fiber, like a wool rug or a cowhide, can also keep your rug cleaner longer due to its natural oils.
But with Tumble rugs, you can get the style you want in a machine washable, non-slip form. Our Hali Rug comes in sizes ranging from 3x5’ to 8x10’ and in runner form, so it can suit any space you’re looking to fill… and it looks just as good as anything you may pay three times as much for, and several times that over the years for its cleaning.
In addition to making your life easier, washable rugs help cut down on allergies. And overall, keeping your rugs and carpets clean can prevent them from negatively impacting the air quality of your home.
Whatever your personal style is, choosing an area rug can be overwhelming, as there are so many options to choose from. By understanding style categories such as contemporary, you can narrow down your options to a much more manageable number, and make it easier to ensure the rug you bring home will be the one that suits your space best!