Anna Weatherley (photographed by Len Spoden for Vanity Fair)

Anna Weatherley’s Handpainted Porcelain Dinnerware

Who is Anna Weatherley?

Although she’s probably best known for her line of handpainted dinnerware, Anna Weatherley was at one point an arms dealer (!) who became a famous couturiere who then went on to set up handpainting studios in Hungary and was eventually commissioned by First Lady Laura Bush to design a collection of china for the White House.

Anna Weatherley (photographed by Len Spoden for Vanity Fair)

Anna Weatherley (photographed by Len Spoden for Vanity Fair)

How did this happen?  When she was young, Anna moved from her native Hungary to Australia.  There, she studied art and design and soon became intrigued with Afghanistan, so she started a business importing furniture and textiles from Kabul to Sydney.  Eventually, she settled in Washington D.C., but her passion for design continued, so she returned to the bazaars of Afghanistan, where she found intricate guns for customers back in Australia.  “I’d buy and ship these great 19th-century guns that the British left behind, beautiful guns with ivory and mother-of-pearl,” she says. “I wasn’t an expert, but I knew these guns were beautiful and decorative.”

When the supply of decorative firearms dwindled, Anna turned to fashion.  During the 1970’s and 1980’s, she created a successful couture business, producing custom dresses using handpainted and hand-embroidered silk.  Her customers included Elizabeth Taylor, Lady Bird Johnson, Jane Fonda, and upscale stores like Henri Bendel and Saks.  But after the stock market crash of 1987, demand for her pricey dresses started to fall, so Anna looked to return home to Hungary.

When did she start producing handpainted porcelain?

After the fall of communism, Anna went back to Hungary.  Curious to see what almost fifty years of government control had done to the artistic community, she found little to celebrate, but in time she connected with artists whose talents were promising. “They were making this ghastly stuff, but I thought they were diamonds in the rough.”  So in the early 1990’s, she established a studio in Budapest and worked with her painters to create a collection of hand-painted porcelain based on botanical art.  “I always liked hand-painting because my fabrics were painted and embroidered,” she says.

Where does Anna get inspiration for her designs?

Anna’s designs reflect her appreciation for the artistry of sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth-century botanical artists, which she studied during trips to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Initially, she took botanical books to Budapest to show her artists. “It took a long time to reeducate them. I was losing money, but I wanted to nurture them, and I didn’t want to lose them.”

Weatherley’s first collection, released in 1993, was named “Redoute Gardens” after the renowned botanical artist. Her intent was to emulate the spirit of the artist without replicating it exactly.

Anna Weatherley Redoute Pink Carnation Salad Plate

Anna Weatherley Redoute Pink Carnation Salad Plate

Next came “Hooker Fruit,” a collection of plates and serving pieces based on Joseph Hooker’s 1890s drawings. “What I loved about his fruit was that they were a bit damaged or a little bit rusty looking,” Weatherley recalls. “After that every leaf I designed had to be torn or have a little hole in to make it look like a bug had been having lunch on it.”

Next came the tulips of Alexander Marshall – an experiment in color exploration. “Tulips are very gusty flowers,” says the designer, “and the colors are absolutely amazing.”

Anna Weatherley Old Master Tulips Oval Vegetable Bowl

Anna Weatherley Old Master Tulips Oval Vegetable Bowl

She then turned her attention to the pioneering work of Maria Sibylla Merian, a scientific illustrator renowned for her portrayal of the flora and fauna (and bugs!) she found on a trip to South America. “I faithfully painted her bugs, and nobody wanted to buy them.”

But bugs would play a key role in Weatherley’s masterful renderings. “One day I got a call from Budapest saying that the painters had just finished one of my collections and they found a large black spot on all the porcelain.” Undaunted, Weatherley followed the example of one of the world’s greatest porcelain manufacturers – Meissen. “At the Smithsonian I learned that in the early days when Meissen had problems with production, bugs were sometimes painted over them.”

A new design direction was born. “Bugs became my best seller with the introduction of ‘Budapest Spring'” a delicate arrangement, mostly dominated by butterflies.

Anna Weatherley Spring in Budapest Condiment Dish with Spoon

Anna Weatherley Spring in Budapest Condiment Dish with Spoon

More garden series followed. “Pannonian Garden” was introduced in 1998 and pays homage to the bounty of florals that thrive around Hungary’s countryside dwellings.

Anna Weatherley Pannonian Garden Dinner Plate

Anna Weatherley Pannonian Garden Dinner Plate

Then came “Treasure Garden,” which was inspired by German painter Georg Ehret.

Anna Weatherley Treasure Garden Vase

Anna Weatherley Treasure Garden Vase

“Vegetable Garden” was inspired by seventeenth-century Florentine painter Giovanna Garzoni and French painter Jacques le Moyne de Morgues, who painted vegetables and fruits he found in Florida in 1564.

Since much time was spent in Budapest and at tabletop shows throughout America, Weatherley had little time to create her own garden in Arlington; but no matter how long she was away, she always found weeds standing when she returned. Her testament to her virility is “Green Leaf.” “Leaves have the most intricate texture and are more difficult to paint than a lush flower.”

Anna Weatherley Green Leaf Dish

Anna Weatherley Green Leaf Dish

In the Spring of 2001, she introduced “Morning Glory”, a common flower throughout Hungary. “This is one that God and I designed together, because it has an innocent charm and is fresh and young and not contrived. I wanted to have more free-form, which I like because a painter can exercise a little more personality.”

Anna Weatherley Morning Glory Dinner Plate

Anna Weatherley Morning Glory Dinner Plate

How are the porcelain pieces created?

Starting with an illustration, Anna’s painters carefully apply paint using very fine brushes onto lustrous white porcelain, which is then fired several times at high temperatures to set the designs and harden the pieces.  Each plate takes two days to paint, while a large dinner set might take as long as three months.

Who paints these pieces?

Anna employs 60 master painters in Hungary to execute her designs.  While each painter has a distinct technique and his own secret way of mixing colors to create their designs, the flowers and fruits are painted mostly by men. By contrast, women tend to specialize in painting the charming bugs and butterflies with miniature detailed wings and legs and gold-dipped eyes. Grasshoppers are a favorite of the team and each one is given a different personality.  To finish the pieces, borders are softly brushed onto the edges by a single painter with mastery in this special technique.

Any interesting commissions?

When the Princess of Wales visited Washington D.C. in the 1990’s, Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham held a luncheon in her honor and presented her guests with Anna Weatherley porcelain gifts.  This same visit prompted Anna Wintour to place an order for a present for Princess Diana. For this commission, Weatherley produced a pair of cachepots decorated with pears, cherries, and gooseberries based on British botanical art.

For First Lady Laura Bush, Anna created 75 seven-piece place settings of the Magnolia Residence China Service, featuring magnolia blossoms, butterflies, and insects in a design inspired by the flora and fauna found on the White House grounds. According to Weatherley, Mrs. Bush had seen her work on several friends’ dinner tables.

First Lady Laura Bush in the White House with Anna Weatherley Magnolia Dinnerware (courtesy The White House archives)

First Lady Laura Bush in the White House with Anna Weatherley Magnolia Dinnerware (courtesy The White House archives)

 

George W. Bush Magnolia Residence China (courtesy The White House archives)

George W. Bush Magnolia Residence China (courtesy The White House archives)

And for The Blair House, the official guest house of the White House for visiting heads of tastes, Anna created and donated a charming breakfast tea set.

Anna Weatherley china at the Blair House

Anna Weatherley china at the Blair House

 

What’s next for Anna Weatherley?

Anna’s latest introductions include a line of exquisite handpainted lamps.

Anna Weatherley White Tulip Lamp

Anna Weatherley White Tulip Lamp

Throughout the years, Anna’s handpainted porcelain pieces have been featured in Architectural Digest, Veranda, Vanity Fair, Southern Accents, Elle Decor, Washington Post, Traditional Home, House and Garden, and Town & Country.  If you own any Anna Weatherley pieces, we’d love to see them.

Love this collection?  See more by clicking here.

Special thanks to Anna Weatherley, Devine, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The White House, and The Blair House.

Better Homes & Gardens 2017

Pallina Acrylic Pitchers Featured in Better Homes and Gardens

We love this outdoor entertaining scene from Better Homes & Gardens‘s June 2017 issue!

Better Homes & Gardens 2017

Better Homes & Gardens 2017

Read more

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing an Area Rug

We’ve just moved into our new house, and although we love our hardwood floors, they are kind of overwhelming.  We feel like we’re living in a showhouse, plus we’re always walking carefully since our footsteps can be heard so loudly throughout.  So we need to start thinking about rugs.  We’re looking to define specific areas, add color to some rooms, and muffle sound/bring in warmth underfoot.

Luckily, we’ve done this many times before, so we know what a change we’ll see once we add rugs.  But for those who haven’t, here’s where you start.

A rug is good for:

  • Defining a specific seating area.  The area rug brings a group of furniture together.  It could help smaller rooms look more spacious and turn larger rooms into separate, usable areas.

  • Creating a focal point in your room.  If your rug is particularly special, use more muted furnishings so you can really show it off.  Clear tables (like this acrylic coffee table) really let your floors shine.

Courtesy Williams Sonoma

  • Adding comfort and warmth underfoot, especially in bedrooms and family rooms.
  • Protecting flooring and furniture.  So next time you hear scraping noises from the constant pulling and pushing of chairs in your dining room, you’ll know how to avoid this.
  • Muffling sound.  Especially true when you have people walking on floors above you.
  • Covering imperfections.  Perfect for older homes if you just don’t love your floors.

So if you’re ready to look at some rugs, how do you tackle this?

Color

The first thing you should look at is how the colors in the rug coordinate with the existing colors in your room. The colors don’t have to match up perfectly, but they should complement each other. Trust us, when you get the color right everything else becomes so much easier.

Design

Usually, the architecture of your space and the type of furnishings you own will dictate whether you go with a traditional, transitional, or contemporary rug. When in doubt, transitional designs are a smart choice because they’ll work with most interiors.

Texture

Design and color may define a rug to most onlookers, but the visual effects of texure should not be underestimated. Not only are textured rugs visually intriguing in themselves, they offset the solid surface of your floor, drawing your eyes into the dimensions of the rug.

Information courtesy of Loloi Rugs.

Should I Get a Rug Pad?

Area rugs can be pricey, so many of us have wondered if we can just skip the rug pad in order to save a few dollars.  Here’s the quick answer: nope. And here’s why.

Rug pads prevent your rug from sliding, buckling, and wrinkling.  They also protect your rug from uneven wear patterns, and keep dirt and moisture trapped between the floor and the rug from damaging the rug’s underside. In a similar vein, they prevent your floors, especially wood floors, from getting bits of latex backing or thread stuck to or ground into in them. Also, vacuuming is easier with a rug pad.  And who doesn’t want to keep their floors in their best shape for years to come?

If you’re ready to take the rug-pad plunge, here’s a quick guide to explain which types work best on which floors, and which types of rugs they work best with. Note that radiant-heat floors can melt rug pads and rugs with latex or plastic backing, so you’ll want to choose a rug weave—sans rug pad—that’s compatible with these floors, or forgo the rug entirely on these surfaces.

Outdoor Floor Rug Pads

Made of tough, no-slip PVC-coated polyester, these rug pads are perfect for the porch or patio and designed to work with indoor/outdoor rugs.  Note: outdoor rug pads are not always suitable for vinyl, lacquered, acrylic, Saltillo tile, terra-cotta, and unsealed surfaces, so if you have any of these types of floors, check with the manufacturer before using.

Floor-Lock Solid Pad

These pads, made of needle-punch plastic with a latex backing, offer cushioning, insulation, and slip resistance in one washable, microbe-resistant package. Use with any type of indoor rug, especially micro-hooked cotton and wool.

Rug-Stop Rug Pad 

This thin, durable, washable pad offers support and promotes even wear. It’s ideal for low-profile rugs, like woven wool and micro-hooked wool, and works well in stair runner installations, where too much height can actually encourage stumbling on the stairs.

Solid Extra-Grip Rug Pad        

In contrast to thinner pads, like the Rug-Stop, this pad in thick and cushy and enhances the foot-feel of high-pile rugs, like hand-knotted wools and jutes. Its higher loft also prevents liquids from leaking onto the floor beneath—a plus if you have pets or small kids in the house.

Information courtesy Loloi and Dash & Albert Rugs.

Getting the Right Size

The best rugs don’t just look great — they enhance and complement the entire look of your interior space. With that said, it’s interesting how the size of a rug, not just its appearance, can influence the dynamic of a room.

Tips

  • Get a measuring tape and measure your room.  Then, outline the area where you want your rug (try this with blue painter’s tape).  Don’t forget to check every door and see how it opens.  If you’re in between sizes, go for the larger rug.
  • Keep at least 18 inches of bare floor exposed around the rug. This is a classic rule that works for most rooms. If your room is smaller, you can leave less space. The key is to get the proportions right.
  • Legs on or off?  It can work both ways, but you should be consistent.  Ideally, all legs should be on the rug, but you may want to think carefully before buying a huge rug that will only fit in one space.  We like going with more standard sizes (8′ x 10′ and 9′ x 12′) as they will fit in most rooms.
  • Rugs can create an optical illusion — make this work in your favor. An undersized rug makes the room appear small and disconnected. When in doubt, go for a bigger size. It’ll unify the furniture and make the room appear bigger than it actually is.
  • If you have a small rug that you love, lay it as an accent on top of a more neutral sisal/jute rug that’s the right size for your seating area.  And as an added bonus, your room will look more collected that way.

Courtesy Surya Rugs

Hides work particularly well this way.

Courtesy Shelby Girard/Domaine

RUG SIZE

Living Room (common sizes: 5′ x 8′, 8′ x 10′, 9′ x 12′, 11′ x 14′)

In a living room, rugs help to pull a space together, add warmth and comfort, and muffle noise. Selecting a rug size for your living room depends on the size of your room as well as your furniture arrangement.

Tips:

  • Any rug you choose should be longer than your largest piece of furniture (like your sofa).
  • Whenever possible, choose a rug that is at least 8′ x 10′; your room will feel more pulled together.

Courtesy Loloi Rugs

Dining Room (common sizes: 5′ x 8′, 8′ x 10′, 7′ round, 8′ round)

In the dining room, make sure the rug you select is big enough for the legs of the chair to sit comfortably on the rug — even when they’re pulled out for people to sit at the table. To make this easy, look for a rug that extends at least 24 inches around the table. And remember to keep at least 18 inches of floor exposed around all sides between the rug’s edge and the wall.

Courtesy Loloi Rugs

Kitchen (common sizes: 2′ x 3′, runners)

Many people prefer a small 2′ x 3′ area rug in front of the sink, which looks fine.  But if you can, a longer runner will look even better, especially in larger kitchens.

Courtesy Venegas & Co.

Hallways (common sizes: runners)

Rugs are great for warming up hallways.  Used near console tables and beautiful artwork; they will create small resting areas and unify the space.

Bedroom (common sizes: 5′ x 8′, 8′ x 10′, 9′ x 12′)

In a bedroom, the size of your bed and the floor area that surrounds it will dictate what size you should select.  Place a large rug under two legs of the bed and make sure the floor is visible all around the bed.  The rug should extend at least 24″ in length and width from the edges of the bed.  That way, when you get up in the morning, your feet will be on the rug.

Courtesy Loloi Rugs

In nurseries, don’t worry if the bed is pushed up against the wall: if you use a rug that’s large enough to fit under the front legs of the bed, you’ll be left with a nice-sized play area for the kids on the floor.

Courtesy Jute Interior Design

Patio (common sizes: 2′ x 3′, 5′ x 8′, 8′ x 10′)

Just like selecting a rug for your living room, you must consider the scale of your patio furniture arrangement before selecting a rug. One of the most underrated benefits of indoor/outdoor rugs is their ability to unify an outdoor furniture arrangement, which allows us to create a cohesive look in an open space.

Courtesy Loloi Rugs

RUG SHAPE

The shape of a rug usually follows the architecture and the furniture arrangement in a room.

Rectangle – these are the most common shape, and they work in most rooms

Runners – great for hallways, kitchens, staircases, or next to beds

Round – these look great under round tables, either in the entryway or in the dining room

Square – generally work best in square rooms under square tables, either in the entryway or in the dining room

Half-circle or hearth – for entryways or fireplaces

Information courtesy Loloi, Safavieh, and Surya Rugs.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our Rugs section here.

Construction

While hand knotted rugs are the most prestigious and best known, the majority of rugs in people’s homes are less expensive constructions, like hand tufted or machine-made rugs.  This will help you understand more about the main construction types, including their durability, defining characteristics, and how they’re made.

Hand Knotted

  • Price: $$$$
  • Durability: Longest lasting construction. Good ones can last 10 to 25 years; great ones can last 100+ years.
  • Manufacturing time: 5-12 months
  • Shedding: Minimal
  • Hand-knotting is the most intricate, labor-intensive rug weaving process in use today.  A higher number of knots per square inch typically translates to better quality.  An average weaver can tie about 3,000 knots per day.
  • Process:  Hand knotted rugs are made on a vertical frame called a hand knotting loom. Columns of threads are stretched from the top to the bottom of the loom; these threads form the foundation and the fringe ends of the rug.  Once this has been done, a weaver sits behind the loom and hand ties individual knots onto the vertical strings. Once completed, the rug is then “sheared” to produce a uniform surface, hand washed for luster, and dried.  Some rugs are dried in the sun for authenticity.

Courtesy Safavieh

Courtesy Surya

Courtesy Loloi

  • How to Identify: Individual knots are visible on the back of hand-knotted rugs, making it possible to see the overall pattern and colors used on the rug’s surface. Weaving and knots will be slightly uneven. The fringe of a hand-knotted rug is an extension of the rug’s foundation.
  • Best for living rooms, libraries, and bedrooms.

Hand Tufted

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 3-6 years for standard rugs; 5-10 years for premium rugs
  • Manufacturing time: 4-6 months
  • Shedding: Sheds initially, subsiding over time.
  • Compared to hand-knotted rugs, tufted rugs are less time consuming to produce, so they are more affordable.  Tufted rugs tend to have a thicker pile height, so they’ll have a more cushiony feel.
  • Process: Hand-tufted rugs are produced by pulling yarns through the rug’s backing material using a tufting gun.  When the rug design is completed, the loops are cut to form a smooth cut-pile surface.  The rug is then removed from the frame and a second fabric is glued to the back to hold the yarns in place.

Courtesy Surya

Courtesy Loloi

  • How to identify: On the back of hand-tufted rugs, you’ll see a canvas backing applied with an adhesive to hold the yarns together.
  • Ideal for family rooms, bedrooms, and living rooms.

Hand Hooked

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 3-10 years
  • Manufacturing time: 4-6 months
  • Shedding:  Sheds less than hand-tufted rugs, subsiding over time.
  • Compared to hand-knotted rugs, hooked rugs are less time consuming to produce, so they are more affordable.
  • Process: Hooked rugs are made like tufted rugs, but instead of shearing the yarns to create a smooth-cut pile, the loops are left uncut, so the finished product will feel more like embroidery.  After the design is completed, the rug is removed from the frame and a second fabric is glued to the back to hold the yarns in place.

Courtesy Surya

Courtesy Surya

  • How to identify: A canvas backing is applied to hand hooked rugs with an adhesive to hold the yarns together — similar to hand-tufted rugs.   The surface pile of a hand-hooked rug will appear looped (rounded).
  • Ideal for family rooms, bedrooms, and living rooms.

Hand Woven Shag

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 2-8 years
  • Manufacturing time: 4 to 6 months
    Shedding: wool – moderate for an extended period, subsiding over time; polyester – minimal shedding.
  • Process: Hand-woven shag rugs are made on hand-operated looms with hundreds of plush, twisted and slightly felted yarns. A team of weavers uses a long steel rod to shoot the fibers across vertical strings that run the length of the rug. 

Courtesy Surya

Courtesy Surya

  • How to identify: Unusually deep pile, giving it a shaggy appearance. May or may not have a canvas backing.

Power Loomed/Machine-Made

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 2-6 years
  • Manufacturing time: 2-3 months
  • Shedding: Minimal shedding. Since most rugs of this type are made from synthetic fibers, the pile will crush with heavy traffic.
  • Usually the most affordable rug construction.   Typically made out of synthetic materials like polyester, polypropylene, and nylon, which are great for high-traffic areas.
  • Process: Produced by large machines with hundreds of spindles of fiber that are mechanically woven into a thin mesh backing.  A computer dictates the pattern, so the chances for error are minimal.
  • How to identify: As with hand-knotted rugs, the rug pattern and colors are visible on the back of these rugs. However, a coarse latex backing is used to secure the fibers in place. The back of a machine-made rug will look very uniform and even (in contrast to the back of a hand-knotted rug, which will have slightly uneven knots).
  • Ideal in high-traffic areas like entryways, family rooms, kid bedrooms.

Courtesy Surya

Flat Weave

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 3-10 years
  • Manufacturing time: 4-6 months
  • Shedding: Moderate, subsiding over time.
  • Often referred to as dhurries or kilims, flatweave rugs are woven on a loom rather than knotted. They are typically constructed from wool, cotton or synthetic materials. In most cases, the pattern on the front of the rug can be viewed clearly from both sides, making these rugs reversible.
  • Process: The material used to make flat-weave rugs is braided onto a loom to create the structure of the rug.  No base material is used , so these rugs are thinner (hence the name “flat weave”).

Courtesy Surya

Courtesy Surya

  • Tip: Flat weave rugs are reversible, so you can extend their life by flipping the rug.
  • Ideal for high-traffic rooms like kitchens, playrooms, and entryways.

Natural Fiber

  • Price: $
  • Durability: 2-6 years
  • Manufacturing time: 4-5 months
  • Shedding: Minimal
  • Static resistant, naturally insulating, eco-friendly/biodegradable.
  • Process: While not a true construction, natural (plant-based) fiber rugs possess their own unique characteristics. They are constructed of tightly woven fibers such as bamboo, cotton, jute, linen, seagrass and sisal to create a casual and relaxed look and feel. The fibers are often bleached or dyed to increase design options and aesthetic appeal. It is important to keep in mind that, as with other rugs, placing natural fiber rugs in direct sunlight several hours a day can result in the fading of dyed materials and gradual darkening of undyed fibers.

Courtesy Surya

Hair-on-hide

  • Price: $$
  • Durability: 5-10 years
  • Manufacturing time: 3-6 months
  • Shedding: Minimal
  • Process: Hair-on-hide rugs are handcrafted of natural hides to create a myriad of designs. They may be dyed, or left with their natural colors. Due to the innate differences among hides, variations in dye lot, color and pattern can be expected. Brands and other markings add character to hide rugs—making each a one-of-a-kind piece to create a truly authentic look.

Courtesy Surya

  • How to identify:  These rugs typically have a felted backing.

Indoor/outdoor

  • Price: $
  • Durability: 1-5 years outdoor; 2-8 years indoor.   Leaving the rug in direct sunlight or standing water will significantly limit its life.
  • Manufacturing time: 3-4 months
  • Shedding: None
  • Great durability and toughness.
  • Process: Indoor/outdoor rugs are made of synthetic fibers (including olefin, polyester, polypropylene and PVC) that have been infused with UV inhibitors to minimize fading. These rugs are mold- and mildew-resistant and can withstand up to 500 hours of direct sunlight.
  • Indoor/outdoor rugs can be hand-hooked  or machine-made and typically have a latex, rubber or  vinyl backing, which enables them to withstand the elements
  • Ideal for patios, outdoor dining areas

Courtesy Dash & Albert

Information courtesy Dash & Albert, Loloi, Safavieh, Surya Rugs.

To shop our entire selection of rugs, click here.

Materials

When picking the right fiber, you have to consider things like cleanability, durability, softness, shedding, color retention, and more. In fact, sometimes synthetic fibers like polypropylene or polyester are better choices than natural fibers because they’re stain-resistant, fade-resistant, and soft.

Understanding the fibers below will help you determine what you should choose based on your needs.

NATURAL FIBERS

Cotton

  • Texture: soft and smooth
  • Durability: moderate
  • Minimal shedding
  • Sustainable/biodegradable
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Sisal

  • Natural fiber from the agave plant
  • Texture: coarse
  • Durability: high
  • Minimal shedding
  • Sustainable/biodegradable
  • Does not attract dust and is static free

Seagrass

  • Natural fiber from the agave plant
  • Texture: soft, reed-like
  • Durability: high
  • Minimal shedding
  • Sustainable/biodegradable
  • Does not attract dust and is static free

Jute

  • Shiny, vegetable fiber
  • Texture: rough, with natural variations in color
  • Durability: moderate
  • Sustainable/biodegradable

Wool

  • Most commonly used natural fiber in rugs (usually sheep’s wool)
  • Texture: mildly coarse, very resilient
  • Durability: high
  • Sustainable/biodegradable

SYNTHETIC FIBERS

Acrylic

  • Texture: smooth, shiny
  • Durability: high
  • Minimal shedding
  • Most commonly blended with other fibers like polyester (this is called a poly-acrylic blend)

Polypropylene

  • Texture: slightly less smooth than most synthetic fibers
  • Durability: high
  • Minimal shedding
  • Bold, fade-resistant color
  • Commonly used in indoor/outdoor rugs for its UV, mildew, and water resistant qualities

Viscose

  • Synthetic, shiny fiber (also known as “art silk”) commonly used as a more affordable substitute for silk
  • Texture: soft, smooth, silky sheen
  • Durability: low
  • Some rugs are made of 100% viscose, but most rugs use viscose to accent a pattern

Polyester

  • Texture: smooth, shiny
  • Durability: high
  • Wears well and feels very soft, especially when used for rugs with a thick pile
  • Moisture, stain, and abrasion resistant
  • Retains color over time, easy to clean

Information courtesy Loloi and Surya Rugs.

Why Do I Need a Rug Pad?

Area rugs can be pricey, so many of us have wondered if we can just skip the rug pad in order to save a few dollars.  Here’s the quick answer: nope. And here’s why.

Rug pads do the following:

  • Prevent your rug from sliding, buckling, and wrinkling
  • Protect your rug from uneven wear patterns, and keep dirt and moisture trapped between the floor and the rug from damaging the rug’s underside
  • Prevent your floors, especially wood floors, from getting bits of latex backing or thread stuck into them
  • Finally, vacuuming is easier with a rug pad.  And who doesn’t want to keep their floors in their best shape for years to come?

If you’re ready to take the rug-pad plunge, here’s a quick guide to explain which types work best on which floors, and which types of rugs they work best with. Note that radiant-heat floors can melt rug pads and rugs with latex or plastic backing, so you’ll want to choose a rug weave—sans rug pad—that’s compatible with these floors, or forgo the rug entirely on these surfaces.

Outdoor Rug Pads

Made of tough, no-slip PVC-coated polyester, these rug pads are perfect for the porch or patio and designed to work with indoor/outdoor rugs.  Note: outdoor rug pads are not always suitable for vinyl, lacquered, acrylic, Saltillo tile, terra-cotta, and unsealed surfaces, so if you have any of these types of floors, check with the manufacturer before using.

Floor-Lock Solid Pad

These pads, made of needle-punch plastic with a latex backing, offer cushioning, insulation, and slip resistance in one washable, microbe-resistant package. Use with any type of indoor rug, especially micro-hooked cotton and wool.

Rug-Stop Rug Pad 

This thin, durable, washable pad offers support and promotes even wear. It’s ideal for low-profile rugs, like woven wool and micro-hooked wool, and works well in stair runner installations, where too much height can actually encourage stumbling on the stairs.

Solid Extra-Grip Rug Pad        

In contrast to thinner pads, like the Rug-Stop, this pad in thick and cushy and enhances the foot-feel of high-pile rugs, like hand-knotted wools and jutes. Its higher loft also prevents liquids from leaking onto the floor beneath—a plus if you have pets or small kids in the house.

Information courtesy Loloi and Dash & Albert Rugs.

For more rug pads, click here.

How Do I Choose the Right Material for My Rug?

When picking the right fiber, you have to consider things like cleanability, durability, softness, shedding, color retention, and more. In fact, sometimes synthetic fibers like polypropylene or polyester are better choices than natural fibers because they’re stain-resistant, fade-resistant, and soft.

Understanding the fibers below will help you determine what you should choose based on your needs.

NATURAL FIBERS

Cotton

  • Texture: soft and smooth
  • Durability: moderate
  • Minimal shedding
  • Sustainable/biodegradable
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Sisal

  • Natural fiber from the agave plant
  • Texture: coarse
  • Durability: high
  • Minimal shedding
  • Sustainable/biodegradable
  • Does not attract dust and is static free

Seagrass

  • Natural fiber from the agave plant
  • Texture: soft, reed-like
  • Durability: high
  • Minimal shedding
  • Sustainable/biodegradable
  • Does not attract dust and is static free

Jute

  • Shiny, vegetable fiber
  • Texture: rough, with natural variations in color
  • Durability: moderate
  • Sustainable/biodegradable

Wool

  • Most commonly used natural fiber in rugs (usually sheep’s wool)
  • Texture: mildly coarse, very resilient
  • Durability: high
  • Sustainable/biodegradable

SYNTHETIC FIBERS

Acrylic

  • Texture: smooth, shiny
  • Durability: high
  • Minimal shedding
  • Most commonly blended with other fibers like polyester (this is called a poly-acrylic blend)

Polypropylene

  • Texture: slightly less smooth than most synthetic fibers
  • Durability: high
  • Minimal shedding
  • Bold, fade-resistant color
  • Commonly used in indoor/outdoor rugs for its UV, mildew, and water resistant qualities

Viscose

  • Synthetic, shiny fiber (also known as “art silk”) commonly used as a more affordable substitute for silk
  • Texture: soft, smooth, silky sheen
  • Durability: low
  • Some rugs are made of 100% viscose, but most rugs use viscose to accent a pattern

Polyester

  • Texture: smooth, shiny
  • Durability: high
  • Wears well and feels very soft, especially when used for rugs with a thick pile
  • Moisture, stain, and abrasion resistant
  • Retains color over time, easy to clean

Information courtesy Loloi and Surya Rugs.

To view our entire collection of area rugs, click here.