Designing from the Ground Up with Area Rugs

Rugs by Surya.

Rugs by Surya.

When Nomad tribes created the first known area rugs in 3000 B.C., it was for the sheer necessity of keeping their earthen floors warm.

Those Nomadic rugs woven from the hair of livestock may have been rudimentary, but they still inspired centuries of rug-making.

By the 7th century, rug-making had become an art form in the Middle East. By the 13th century, rugs were custom woven to order for European noblemen and royalty.

Today, owning a rug isn’t quite the status symbol it was centuries ago.

Rug by Jaunty

Rug by Jaunty

Rugs can cost a few hundred dollars or tens of thousands. There are even some that cost millions – (btw, if you happen to own one of those it definitely still is a status symbol!)

While we still use rugs to keep our floors warm, it’s often a secondary purpose.

In today’s homes, area rugs serve as the anchor for design. Unlike paint colors, artwork and accessories, there is a finite number of area rugs to be found.

Sure, there are a lot of options out there, especially if you’re willing to purchase a machine-made rug.

But, if you’re looking for a specific color scheme and style, and hope to buy at a particular price-point, the choices are not endless.

Because an area rug is so instrumental to a room’s design, and it can take some time to find just the right one, I usually build my design from the ground up, so to speak.

Luckily, the process of finding and purchasing an area rug has gotten easier and cheaper over the last decade.

When I first started in the interior design industry, I remember visiting a rug shop in Webster Groves. It was a major production.

A man from the store would lug the giant, handmade rugs from a pile or push them on a rack while I tried to choose the perfect one. When I found a few good choices, I’d tag them and bring my clients back to view them.

These rugs were expensive and the process was time-consuming.

Rug by Surya

Rug by Surya

Today, my clients can still opt for the expensive, handmade rugs, but we can also search for more affordable rugs at home goods stores.

This type of store allows me to walk in with my client, make a rug selection and place the order, all within the same day. In some cases, we can even walk out of the store with the rug in our possession.

We can streamline and expedite our design process – saving my clients time and money.

I also like to use rug lines like Surya and Jaunty because they have a lot of choices and styles. I can view options online and show my clients a variety of ideas that match their style and budget.

However we make our selection, once the area rug has been chosen, we can begin to pull fabrics for window treatments, upholstery for furniture, pillows, accessories and everything else we’ll need to complete the design.

As I said, the area rug is the anchor of the design. It’s the foundation piece upon which I build the rest of the room.

Given what we use rugs for now, I think it’s funny that there was a time in the 16th century when rugs were considered too precious to be used on floors – instead they are used to adorn tables, chests and walls.

Granted, rugs back then were very, very expensive, and each one was handmade with painstaking detail.

And you can bet, if I ever made a rug I would never let anybody step on it!

Looking to update your room with a new rug and fresh design? Contact Jill at JSB Designs today at

Research for this blog gathered here.