The Beauty and Style of Flat-Woven Rugs

Use flat woven rugs in a variety of ways.

Flat-woven rugs are popular, durable, affordable, and colorful … and a must-have for many rug collectors. While they seem to belong to another era, flat-woven rugs are in fact undergoing a revival. Young, upwardly mobile couples to retirees have fallen for the soothing, natural environment these rugs offer.

Typically made from wool, cotton, or jute, flat-woven rugs don’t show traffic patterns like other rugs. They are so thin they work well in a hallway by the door. Since this ancient flooring technique has no pile, you can shuffle across flat-weaves for years with little wear. Furthermore, they are often reversible, so you get twice the life out of them. And they’re so affordable. You can get a 3×5-foot flat-woven rug for as low as $89 and a large 10×13 for around $2,000.

Many flat-weaves contain native patterns that can accentuate a Southwestern or mountain theme. You’ll likely find a variety of colors hand-woven into the rugs, ranging from orange and red to warm chocolate-brown and yellow. Hand-woven flat rugs are nothing if not warm.

Flat-weaves are ideal for a casual or rustic setting in a family room or office.  However, the emergence of contemporary and transitional patterns lends these rugs to work

Contemporary patterns in flat woven rugs have further increased their popularity.

well in any room and with any decor. They work marvelously in a dining room since they’ll last for years, even with the chairs constantly moving back and forth. You can also hang them on the wall, drape them over a chair or sofa, or wrap them around a pillow.

You can find flat-woven rugs in many sizes and styles. The most popular types are kilim, sumac, and dhurrie:

  • Kilim rugs have been made since at least 1000 BC. Long admired for their practical applications as much as for their beauty, kilim rugs are created by tightly interweaving strands of wool. The ends of the strands create fringe, which are knotted to prevent pulling. You’ll find kilims in plain, single-color patterns as well as brightly ornamental designs filled with symbols and ancient characters. The word kilim originated in Turkey, but the flat-weaving process is also practiced in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia, and China.
  • Sumac rugs were first made in the Turkish town of Shemakja. These flat-woven wool rugs tend toward geometric designs with tribal overtones. The woven embroidery appears on both sides, making these rugs reversible. Europeans have long valued Sumacs for their durability in high-traffic areas and for their designs that fit any kind of decor, from traditional to rustic to contemporary. Sumac rugs tend to be the heaviest of the flat-weaves, yet they remain reasonably priced.
  • Dhurrie rugs are usually made of versatile, durable cotton. They have been the rug of choice for many centuries in India. Because they are so thin and flexible, various sized dhurries are used for everything from coasters under vases to floor coverings popular in mediation rooms. Dhurries commonly have traditional touches of oriental and contemporary designs, making them ideal for a wide range of casual decors.

Many people consider the different types of these rugs incidental, preferring instead to focus on the patterns and colors. For collectors, however, dhurrie, sumac, and kilim rugs fill special places in the home and are considered sacrosanct.

All the flat-weaves are light; they fold easily for storage and travel. While we suggest professional cleaning, you can immerse these all-natural rugs in water if you wish to clean them yourself. Vacuuming and spot cleaning are usually all the rugs need to maintain their beauty and last a long time.

Fall Rug Care

Bring your outdoor rug indoors for the winter.

October means it’s time once again to get into the spirit for a big fall cleanup. What? You think spring is the only time to clean? That’s a myth. Spring is simply a time to open up the house from the hunkered-down months of winter, sweep away the dust, and uncover the patio furniture.

By comparison, autumn is a time for real cleaning. To prepare for winter, you have to clean everything before you pack it away. You have to rake the yard and cover the pool, bring in the cold-sensitive plants and slide the storm windows into place. Indoors, you perform some major cleaning, wiping down the windows, baseboards, fan blades, and vents. And for heaven’s sake, don’t forget about your rugs.

While the indoor/outdoor rugs on your deck and patio can withstand the harsh overnight chills, they will last for many long spring and summer seasons if you bring them indoors when the cold hits. Chances are you won’t be entertaining outdoors anyway (and it will be too cold to chill out next to your frozen grill), so put your removable outdoor rugs on the cleaning list and make room in the attic.

It’s fairly easy to clean most indoor/outdoor rugs, since they are made of synthetic materials designed to withstand mild soap and water. Lay out your rug and scrub it with a soft-bristled long-handled brush using mild dish soap that does not contain bleach. Turn the rug over and repeat on the backside. Hang the rug over a railing or on an incline so the water can drain until the entire rug dries.

Once it’s completely dry, roll up the rug, careful to keep edges even to prevent crinkling. Tape or tie the rug into a secure cylinder and store it in a cool, dry place. Come spring, your rug will look brand new when you once again unroll it onto your patio.

Your big fall cleanup should also include steps to maintain the other rugs in your home. At the very least, you should use the seasonal housework push to turn any rugs that have been exposed to the direct rays of the hot summer sun. Wool rugs are very sensitive to light. The natural fibers can fade or even discolor when exposed to ultraviolet light. Once the sun’s rays have bleached the dye in a hand-knotted wool rug, no amount of cleaning can restore its original vibrancy.

By turning your wool rugs, you help them fade evenly, allowing the aging process to occur gradually and gracefully. At the same time, you’ll appreciate your rug from the many different vantage points turning provides you. Here’s all you do: move the furniture off the rug and turn it 90 degrees.

For some rug aficionados, a faded look implies antiquity and adds personality to the rug. But uneven fading reduces a rug’s attractiveness. Be good to your rugs, and you’ll be able to enjoy them for many autumns to come.