Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rags to Riches

I've been hunting for an area rug for the dining room for some time now. We need something light colored, but that will take heavy traffic and will hide possible stains, since we'd be eating over top of it frequently. I knew I didn't want a flat color, pattern seemed much more likely to hide wear and tear and stains. But we have a fairly boldly patterned wallpaper in the room and on the chair seats. Stripes seemed the way to go, to bring some pattern without competing with the other things going on in the space.

The problem is, it turns out it's pretty hard to find a striped rug that isn't 1) Way too boldly colored for the room, 2) completely blah or 3) had all the colors I wanted, and then threw in something nutty, like neon orange. 

We had a rug in the room, but now it's in the den because it was just too dark for our dining room.

With the white trim and white cabinet, the black chairs and black table and brown rug were just not jiving. I've since covered the chair seats in a bright green fabric and I consistently keep a light colored table cloth on top of the table, and the rug is gone. But we're starting to notice wear and tear being taken out on our wood floors now that they are bare.

I've considered several options for a new dining room rug, including FLOR carpet tiles, a braided rug, and having a carpet remnant cut and bound. FLOR, while having many many lovely patterns, just doesn't seem to have what I want. Braided rugs of decent quality in the colors I'm after are also pretty tough to come by, or they cost you an arm and leg. The carpet remnant would be an inexpensive solution (less than $300) but seems like a temporary, place-holding fix.

Today, though, I think I've found the solution to my problem. This morning I read Annie Elliot's blog post about the Soho Dhurri flatweave rug. Up until now I've been kind of avoiding flatweaves, but I stored her recommendation in the back of my mind, and thought I might widen my search to include some flatweaves in the future.

Then, I was leafing through my new copy of House Beautiful* and I ran across this picture:

What's that on the floor? Some kind of blue striped rug? Wait...that's a rag rug! A RAG RUG in House Beautiful? What? I don't know why...but I love this. I want this...oh rag rug you are the answer to my prayers!

If you don't know what a rag rug is, here's a close up of one, it might ring a bell


A rag rug is quite literally, a bunch of rags woven together to make a rug. Remember when you were in your elementary school social studies class and your teacher would tell you all about how the prairie ladies would save every scrap of fabric for years and reuse it over and over to make everything fabric-y they needed? I'm pretty sure rag rugs were on that list. When it was too far gone to make anything else, it went into a rug. Which is why they're often a big mixing bowl of colors. 

But not anymore. 

A brief Google search revealed to me that there are loads and loads of weavers that will make custom rag rugs for you, according to the size and color you want. You can send them wallpaper and fabric samples, or even paint chips and they will make it happen, and fairly inexpensively as well.

Other rag rug perks? 
 - They're super green. Many weavers recycle old fabrics, such as old sheets and clothes to make the rugs (although some do use new fabrics as well).
- They wear like iron.
- They're easy to wash. Small ones can just be thrown in your washing machine. Large ones can be taken outside and (are you ready?) hosed off and left to dry in the sun.
- Support those small business owners

And then I was reminded of my Great Aunt Tutti's house in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. We didn't visit them often, I think I only went there 3 times in my life and I haven't been there since I was about 14 I think, but I remember this - Aunt Tutti had braided rugs in her house with very thick, very cushy rug padding under them...and they felt phenomenal under your feet. I think that's what I would do here.

So, I'm pretty much sold on this. And Adam is (surprisingly) on board as well. I thought for sure he'd nix my rag rug plan, but he's been pretty agreeable to most everything since he's only gone to work 1 day this week (thanks snow, you're helping me get a rug!).

*With the snow I managed to get out of the house once this week, and that was only because my sister-in-law came and got me in her 4x4 Jeep. We stopped at the grocery store because we both needed to restock on some essentials before round 2 of the snowmageddon. When most people say essentials they mean the big 3: Milk, Bread, Toilet Paper. For me, it was 4 things: Milk, Bread, Ice Cream, Home Decor Magazines.


  1. "When most people say essentials they mean the big 3: Milk, Bread, Toilet Paper. For me, it was 4 things: Milk, Bread, Ice Cream, Home Decor Magazines."

    You are being green by recycling the Home Decor magazines as... nevermind. ;)

    I wholeheartedly support your rag rug plan! Mike was asking what a rag rug was the other day and I was like, "?" until he explained that you had mentioned it on your blog. His next question was whether or not I could make one... ANYWAY if you don't get a rag rug you should get this one:
    We went into the Jonathan Adler store yesterday and there were a ton of things that made me think of you.

    PS - The Captcha for this comment was "throw"... like a throw rug?

  2. The rag rug plan is...probably not happening. I didn't calculate accurately what the cost would be and it turns out it would be in the neighborhood of $1,200. But, we've found another option that I'm hoping to post about in a few weeks.