Area rugs offer versatility and give bang for the buck
Area rugs, usually placed over hardwood or tile floors, and wall-to-wall or "broadloom" carpets are important elements in most rooms. While homeowners, especially in climates where the weather gets cold like in Chicago, like the clean look of bare floors, most still gravitate to the warm, comfortable feel of textile floor coverings.
According to the experts, many homeowners are buying larger area rugs when they are choosing to go that direction, leaving just a hint of the lovely floors beneath.
"People are so individual in terms of their needs, wants and styles today. Homeowners want to have lots of choices so that they can create their own sanctuary, their own unique spaces," explained Ginny Jones, senior designer for Milliken & Company's residential division.
So Milliken offers everything from solid, patterned and sculptured broadloom carpeting in myriad color choices, to area rugs in a wide variety of designs, shapes and sizes.
When it comes to patterned rugs or carpeting, Jones said that geometrics have been particularly popular for several years because they give an "architectural feel" that mixes beautifully with a wide variety of furniture and fabrics in formal and casual spaces, as well as in bedrooms. Homeowners tend to choose bolder geometrics for area rugs and more muted geometrics in broadloom carpets.
"Hand-touched rugs which have a distressed aesthetic and look like they have been hand-stitched or woven are also in demand. They make people feel more comfortable and connected to a room because there is an inherent beauty in imperfection," she explained.
Others enjoy using sculptured or textured carpeting to introduce added depth and interest to a room, particularly those featuring solid-colored upholstery, Jones added. The sculpturing is achieved using differing pile heights and yarns.
"Our customers are trending toward the softer carpets, yet we are careful not to make them so soft that we sacrifice performance," she stated.
Some carpets are even being given added luster, glimmer and sparkle for a touch of fun and to distinguish them from other carpets.
When it comes to colors, Jones said that the neutral grays and taupes still rule the market but that blues are beginning to make a strong statement, particularly indigo blue and the various berry hues.
"Some homeowners might use a strong color like an indigo blue in one room in order to make a statement. But it depends on the space and the person," Jones explained.
Thanks to Milliken's "inspiredesigner" program, homeowners can create their own, one-of-a-kind carpeting and rugs within the Milliken "Imagine Collection." This collection includes more than 50 design options. Customers can visit a flooring store that offers the Imagine Collection and start by choosing the design they like. If that design does not come in the correct colors for their home, they can customize it using three color palettes containing 35 colors each. They can take home a grayscale image of the carpet pattern they like and basically "color by letter" designating what color they want in up to five specific areas.
Within 24 to 48 hours, Milliken will produce a high resolution, inkjet image of their creation. If the customer likes it, the company will then, within 10 to 14 days, produce a complimentary 27-by-27 inch carpeting sample. Once they see the sample in their room, the homeowners can then decide whether or not to place a final order for their unique creation.
"Our 'inspiredesigner' program offers the ultimate in customization and personalization," explained Mollie Williams, a Milliken spokeswoman.
Emily Morrow, director of color, design and style for the residential segment of Shaw Industries Inc., is seeing a return to lush, plush and very soft carpet for warmth and comfort. Most homeowners are choosing shades of gray or grayish beige or colors found in nature like navy blue, aquamarine and turquoise that add gravity to a room and work well with the gray trend.
"Gray continues to be popular in floor coverings, furniture and fabrics and, based on our worldwide research, it appears that it is here to stay for awhile. The popularity of gray has even been transferred to wood floors. They are moving away from the reddish-orange colors that we used to see, to a reclaimed look featuring grayish browns and cleaner browns where white or gray has been rubbed into the grain to bring it out," she explained.
"Interestingly, before I joined Shaw I was an interior designer and, at the time, I was seeing the emergence of nickel and chrome in lighting fixtures, kitchen cabinet hardware and so forth and we enjoyed the nice contrast between the warm beige fabrics that were popular at the time and the cool metallics," Morrow recalled.
"Now I am seeing a return to warmer metallics at the international shows because everyone still wants that counterbalance and with all of the use of grays in floor coverings and fabrics, we need to return to warm metals. So I am seeing the gold metallics coming back in lighting, kitchens and baths and this time they have gold metallic bases with a light silver color almost brushed over the gold so that you see tones of both silver and gold in order to bridge the design needs of many people," she continued.
"Consumers are very practical. They want colors and designs that will work with things they already have," Morrow added.
"There is also a strong interest in patterned carpets using geometrics like chevrons, ikats, ogees, interlocking squares, houndstooth patterns and even trellises. Patterns that you see in clothing are appearing in carpet, too," Morrow said, "and most of them aren't tiny or on a grand scale like you would see in the hospitality industry. They are in-between."
Many homeowners are also choosing to have patterned loop carpets which co-mingle different types and colors of yarns to create a tonality change and an interesting texture which, according to Morrow, "disguises daily foot traffic and makes it less necessary to vacuum daily."
All of the Shaw carpets can also been ordered and bound as room-sized area rugs to be placed over wood or tile floors.
"Homeowners see hardwood floors as a great investment in their home, but many also love the quiet and warmth offered by a rug, so we allow them to purchase a bound version of our carpeting in any size they wish through our 'Cut A Rug' program," explained Allie Bruce Robertson, public relations and communications manager for Shaw.
If, instead of choosing carpeting or a factory-made area rug, your choice is to purchase an authentic oriental rug, it is important to remember that buying a handmade oriental rug is like buying a diamond, according to Houshang Moradi, a representative of Rugport, 23 S. Northwest Highway, Palatine. "And if you buy a good one, you can expect it to last approximately 100 years and become a cherished family heirloom."
The quality and price of such rugs vary widely. The things to look for when judging a rug's quality include the intricacy of the pattern, the quality of the wool or silk used, the tightness of the weave and whether or not it is an antique, he explained.
The biggest mistake a buyer can make is not knowing the difference between a handmade rug and a machine-made rug. You also need to learn the difference between hand-hooked, hand-tufted and hand-knotted. So, do your research beforehand.
"And just because you are buying a Persian Tabriz-design rug does not mean that you are buying a Persian Tabriz rug. They are different. Some of the most expensive oriental rugs in the world are the antique Tabriz, Kashan and Isfahan rugs made in Iran about 110 years ago," Moradi explained.
A 9-by-12 foot oriental rug can range in price from $1,500 to $200,000. But if you are looking for a decent rug, you should expect to pay at least $3,000. A rug costing less is probably outdated or of lesser quality, he stated.
"When looking at these prices, remember that it takes a weaver between one and four years to create an average room-sized rug, depending on the weaving density. So you are paying for between one and four years of a person's work," Moradi said.
Oriental rugs come in both silk and wool. The silk rugs are more luxurious and high maintenance while the wool rugs are more practical for high traffic areas.
Rugport also carries the best selection of oversized rugs including 12-by-15 foot, 14-by-20 foot and 24-by-35 foot.
"Many people in this area have large homes with large rooms so they need large rugs and we carry them," he stated. "We also order custom rugs in any size or design that a customer wants."
Tastes in oriental rugs are constantly evolving. Moradi said that many customers are looking for rugs in shades of gray and other softer, mellower colors and they want those displaying contemporary, geometric designs like the ikat. They are also looking for rugs large enough to cover larger portions of their rooms than in the past.
He went on to reveal that for 2015 he is seeing more rugs in earth tones as well as in light blue with white.
If you choose to purchase an oriental rug, he added, you should have it professionally cleaned at least once every five years. Dirt eats away at the yarn and damages the rug so you should also vacuum it regularly. If you spill something on the rug, immediate use of a regular carpet cleaner is fine.