A brief look at the history, form, function and types of rugs.

Rug weaving is an ancient art form that was practiced by many, many different cultures, each placing its own significance and meaning into the craft. Countries noted for their rug heirlooms include Iran, India, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Caucasus, Turkey, Armenia, Romania and Russia. The rug motifs include a lot of natural elements but some also include everyday tasks, war scenes and modern looking geometric designs.

Handmade rugs can be prohibitively expensive because of the level of expertise and huge amount of time required in the production of these gems. Machine made rugs have greatly reduced the prices, making rugs available to the general public. Machine made rugs may also be cheaper because they use less expensive materials; if you want to boost the quality and longevity, as well as beauty, of your rug consider purchasing a handmade rug or a machine made rug that uses top quality wools.

A third type of rug is the homemade variety. These rugs used to be made at home, obviously but now are often commercially made with a look and feel of a homemade variety. They are usually made of quality wool or cotton and are very decorative, complementing Country and Cottage decorating styles nicely.

Rugs come in a variety of sizes but when someone speaks specifically of a rug they generally mean one that covers most of the floor. A significantly small rug that only covers one area of the floor is called an area rug. Nigel Thomson, an independent Rug consultant, says with so many options available, it pays to talk to a specialist

The style of rug refers to type of construction used to make the product. There are two main categories: flat-weave and pile and each category has a large number of subsets and variations. The basic differences between the two categories are pretty evident – flat weave rugs are thin and pile rugs are thicker and tend to have a lush quality.

The most popular rug is Oriental and these rugs also come with a huge degree of variety. Typically they’re thought of as short pile rugs but can also come in the flat-weave style.

If you’re looking to buy a rug the rule of thumb is to purchase the rug that fits your aesthetic style best and is the best quality rug you can afford. If you’re looking to make an investment, and many handmade rugs can be quite an investment, you’re going to need to sink a lot of cash into the product. If you’re looking to spruce up your entry then you obviously don’t need to spend a lot but you’ll want an attractive piece that will hold its color and stand up to traffic, so quality is still an essential element. And, of course, function is a key consideration in this purchase; you don’t want to dole out the money for an heirloom handmade rug that’s going to be trampled by children all day.

Rugs are an investment, especially if you want a good piece that will complement the rest of your home and last throughout the years. Like all investments, a bit of thought should be given to the purchase before you rush out to the store and plunk down your hard earned cash.

By Leonel Thompson

Anna Thompson: Anna, a former fashion editor, offers readers a curated look into the world of high fashion. Her blog features runway analysis, designer profiles, and style tips.