How Do I Choose the Best Contemporary Rugs?

Jennifer Voight

The first factor to consider when shopping for contemporary rugs is visual impact. A contemporary rug should be attractive to the person who will be living with it, whether the rug serves as the focal point of the room or just an accent to contemporary furniture or wall art. After visual impact, budget and materials are a consideration because they are interrelated. Rugs made from synthetic materials tend to be less expensive than natural materials, yet they are also less durable and may not retain dyes as well. Finally, the room itself should help determine design, color choices, and rug size and shape.

A shag rug can add a different texture to a room with a lot of hard surfaces.
A shag rug can add a different texture to a room with a lot of hard surfaces.

One of the biggest advantages of contemporary rugs is the variety of styles available. Contemporary rugs may be one solid color, consist of bright geometric shapes, or bear an image in striking photographic detail. Nearly any design, shape, or image that does not fall into the traditional rug category can be embodied in a contemporary floor covering. As contemporary rugs may serve as pieces of art, anyone considering buying one should decide what the rug's purpose will be in the room. Some artistic rugs may even be hung on the wall as tapestry art.

The variety of shapes, colors, and designs of contemporary rugs means that the rug may act as a focal point or conversation piece in the room. On the other hand, a contemporary rug in a solid color can accent a focal piece of art by carrying an accent color or complementing the art work's design. Modern rugs may either open up a crowded area or make it cozier, depending on the design and placement.

Once the visual purpose of a rug is ascertained, budget can determine materials used. As a general rule, natural fibers like wool, silk, or cotton tend to be more durable and accept dyes better, meaning the designs and colors are often more attractive than those of synthetic rugs. Natural fibers tend to resist staining and dust mites. Wool tends to be more durable than cotton, but cotton feels better on the feet. Cotton also wears more quickly.

Synthetic fiber materials, like acrylic, nylon, rayon, or viscose, tend to be less expensive than natural fibers, but they have advantages of their own. Acrylic may visually resemble wool but cost less. Nylon is durable and stain-resistant but wouldn't be a good choice for an heirloom rug because it would lose value over time.

Finally, contemporary rugs may be woven or knotted by hand or by machine. Hand-woven rugs are more labor intensive than machine-woven rugs, making them more expensive. Rugs that are woven by hand also are unique from any other rug, even those made by the same weaver. Given that a human touch is behind each rug, these tend to be more durable, heirloom-quality pieces.

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