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What Is Considered a Modern or Contemporary Rug?

By : The Rug Gallery 0 Comments

Today’s changing styles in home décor have allowed people to get really creative with the look and feel of their surroundings. Rugs can be a great way to visually bring together a space and make it more comfortable. What are modern or contemporary rugs and how can you use them to take the look of your home to the next level?

John Maher:  Welcome to the Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an Oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m John Maher, I’m here with the owner of the Rug Gallery, Sam Presnell, hi Sam. Sam Presnell:  Hi John.

Is There a Difference Between Modern & Contemporary Rugs?

John:  So, our topic today Sam is modern and contemporary rugs. Sam, is there a difference between a modern and a contemporary rug?

Sam:  I guess that’s debatable, but in my mind I don’t see a whole lot of difference. Contemporary I would classify with cleaner, sharper lines and more definition and more spaciousness to the designs. Modern is somewhere between traditional and transitional, and contemporary where it can be lots of different things and could be very organic in look and feel.

John:  You mentioned “transitional,”what does the term “transitional” design mean in rugs?

Sam:  Again to me transitional rug design would be something that’s a traditional rug design‑wise, where you are taking old elements — whether it be Moroccan, which is very popular today or traditional Persian designs — and you take elements out of a rug and you just play with that one element, [for example] you blow it up or you rearrange it with just no borders on it. You’ll take and erase some of the designs so it looks like it’s worn and missing. To me that is what I would call more of a transitional look, where it takes traditional elements and rearranges it in a modern feel.

Are Modern or Contemporary Rugs More Popular?

John:  And what’s more popular, modern or contemporary, and why?

Sam:  I think that in my opinion it’s probably more modern, that’s the term I would use. To me, contemporary is more defining to a really clean, spacious, minimalistic type of look, whereas I think modern would be something where you could put a lot of the elements together and make it more of a collective type of a feel.

John:  And what are the bestselling designs and why?

Sam:  I think right now the really popular one is again, what I would call organic or distressed or things that have basically an abstract feel to them, where you look at it is very much like an impressionistic painting. You look at it and you see a lot of different things from one side to another, and the whole design is basically non‑repeating. You’ll just see things that are just organically appearing and disappearing and it just has a really nice abstract type of a feel to it.

Popular Colors for Modern and Contemporary Rugs

John:  What are the types of colors that are used in those abstracts designs, any types of colors?

Sam:  I think the most popular again is gray, that’s the really dominant coloration out there and there’s lots of colors that go great with gray. You are going to see a lot of fusion of teals and soft blues, dark blues, oranges, rusts, persimmons, and purples. You are going to see all those colors mixed with those grays. Gray is kind of the new black. We are seeing a lot of gray, if just not the main color, but also used as an accenting or a complementary color.

John:  Do you think that people want their rug to be able to match all of the things in their house or whatever color they have their walls in their house, that rug would match it?

Sam:  Yeah I think it depends on your situation. A lot of people come in and they’ve got everything already done and of course the rug is the last thing, it’s got to pull it all together. Definitely the rug has to pull those elements together, and a lot of times it’s not so much a match but complementary to those colors. It’s like wearing a red tie on a light blue shirt with a navy blazer, it looks great together but the red tie has nothing to do with the blue and I think we see a lot of that in rugs as well. It’s complementary, or at the opposite end of the color scale with the color that you are using. Rugs can definitely pull your whole room together and give it balance. I think it’s very important when you come into rugs as the last thing you are buying, I think it’s very important that you be a little open minded and realize the rug has to do a lot of things. You may not love that rug as much, but it really does pull the whole room together. Whereas if you are on the other scale, you can buy the rug because you love it, it’s a great piece of art and then you can paint the wall any color you want. When you buy fabrics, there are 10,000 more fabrics out there than there will ever be rugs in the marketplace and you can do so much with decorating around the rug too.

Choosing the Rug First

John:  Do you think that that’s the better way to do it if people have the choice to buy a rug and then kind of upholster their furniture or paint their walls around the colors that are in the rug?

Sam:  That’s a difficult question, that’s a very good question. The rug guy [says] yes, definitely. I would say in my opinion, most definitely.

John:  If you have the time and you think can do that.

Sam:  Yeah, because I think again, you can buy what you like and then build the room around it and it’s much easier to do that way. Or it can be the other way around. Believe me it’s much more challenging to make that rug fit everything else you’ve got.

Is Investing in Contemporary Rugs Risky?

John:  Is it risky to invest in these types of modern and contemporary designs in rugs?

Sam:  I don’t see it as risky, it’s like anything you buy out there. Eventually things are going to change. It’s hard to say how long anything will last, but I think as long as you like it and love it and it’s performing, people won’t change their style that quickly. I would say just love it and like what you are buying and if it doesn’t become an investment, who cares? Just enjoy.

John:  And what type of quality is available on this type of rug?

Sam:  My God, there are so many, many different qualities [and rug materials]. You can buy from printed to synthetics, machine mades, you can buy it in hand‑knotted and there is all different kinds of wools out there, all kinds of different blends of wools and other synthetic fibers together. Quality is all over the board and in any price range. That’s the real beauty today, and when I was growing up in the business 40‑something years ago, it was very limited what choices you had to buy as far as quality. The cheap rugs looked cheap, [but] now the cheap rugs look like a million bucks and it’s amazing how much has changed for the consumer in the rug business, especially where you can get such a great look at all kinds of price ranges today, and you are not having to spend a lot of money to get a good look.

John:  Should people keep in mind, though, that even though a cheap rug might look like a million bucks, it’s still a cheap rug. You have to be aware that it’s not going to last that long.

Sam:  It’s a caveat, buyer beware definitely because, like anything with a price, bells should go off in your head. It is cheap, and there’s a good reason why.

John:  That’s great information Sam, thanks again for speaking with me today. Sam:  All right John, my pleasure, thank you.

John:  And for information about Sam, The Rug Gallery and oriental rugs and carpets, visit That’s Rug Gallery C‑I‑N‑C‑Y dot com or call 513 793 9505 and make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes and if you have the time, please give us a review on iTunes, we’d appreciate that as well. See you next time on the Rug Gallery.

Categories: Ask Sam, Rug

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