For many years, rugs have had an unenviable reputation as a staid piece of petit bourgeois clutter best consigned to the dustbin of history. Readers of a certain age may empathise with my own memories of my grandparent’s living room rug. Placed on top of an absurdly thick pile carpet, this rug of youthful reminiscence was a true horror. The size of a small island, the intricate red and forest green weave seemed to be purposely designed to clash with the dull pink carpet and musty smelling wallpaper. It smelled strongly of the family dog and was peppered with cigarette burns. I remember rolling on it as a young child, coming up looking like a badger with my back festooned with greying dog hairs.
Perhaps the domestic rug could have survived this dubious phase were it not for the advent of IKEA. In complete contradistinction to the faded elegance of my grandparent’s era, in the early 1990s rugs went from being the ubiquitous badge of the comfortable middle class to being the functional preserve of student flats. The new rugs were Spartan, thin, cheap and easily stained; and were usually disposed of in horror as soon as you could afford a decent carpet or hardwood floor.
Return of the rug
With such a baleful recent history, could it be possible that the rug is set to make a comeback in discerning 21st century homes? The answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’. With hardwood or laminate flooring being so much easier to keep clean than most carpets, these modern options have become the flooring of choice in many homes. This is especially true of rental accommodation or homes that have ever played host to young families. Ask any parent about the comparative merits of scrubbing yoghurt or pasta sauce out of an expensive carpet, as opposed to wiping it off of a lino floor tile. The price of convenience has been a certain loss of soul and individuality in our homes. Contemporary rug design has come a long way from both the bland functionality of the nineties and the headache inducing decadence of the seventies. Modern rugs can be stylish, easy to clean and are available in a wide range of materials. In fact, they can be the perfect accessory to add flair, personality and cosiness to all sorts of living areas; at the fraction of the cost of a carpet. For a range of staggeringly beautiful designs, check out Bazaar Velvet, a london rug shop with a difference.
The internet is now full of a staggering variety of domestic rugs to suit all budgets, and some of which are surely destined to become design classics. If you are still a traumatised sceptic like me who is reluctant to pay over the odds for a decent carpet but still wants something a little more homely than a wooden floor, then a contemporary rug could well be the affordable alternative you are looking for.