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The Timeless Beauty of Oriental Rugs: A Modern Decorating Guide

Updated: Apr 25

Red Oriental Rug in bedroom.

The Fascinating History of Oriental Rugs

In the world of interior design, there are certain elements that stand the test of time. Oriental rugs are one such masterpiece that has captivated the hearts of design-minded individuals for centuries. Offering both historical significance and timeless beauty, these luxurious carpets tell stories of culture, craftsmanship, and artistry throughout the ages. If you're considering incorporating the exquisite allure of an Oriental rug into your interior décor, this guide is here to help you navigate the world of these remarkable creations.

Before we delve into the intricacies of selecting and decorating around Oriental rugs, it's interesting to understand their rich history.

Oriental rugs have been woven for thousands of years in regions across Asia, including Persia (modern-day Iran), Turkey, India, and China. The exact origins of these rugs are somewhat shrouded in mystery, but historians believe they date back as far as 2,500 years. Each rug tells a unique tale, often influenced by the culture, geography, and traditions of its place of origin.

One of the most captivating aspects of Oriental rugs is the artistry behind their creation. Skilled artisans handcraft these rugs using techniques passed down through generations. The intricate patterns, vivid colors, and impeccable craftsmanship make them true works of art for your floors.

Modern Decorating with Oriental Rugs

Selecting and designing your room around an Oriental Rug is a nuanced process that involves considering various factors. Here are some professional decorating tips to guide you in the process:

1. Oriental Rug Style

Oriental rugs come in a wide array of styles, each characterized by distinct patterns, colors, and motifs that reflect the cultural and regional influences of their place of origin. These styles can be categorized into different aesthetics, making it easier to match them with various interior design themes, from formal to casual, farmhouse, and more. Exploring these rugs in more detail will help you decide which style is right for you.

Formal Rug Styles:

Persian Rugs: Persian rug styles such as Sultanabad and Sarouk are the epitome of formal elegance. They often feature intricate floral and medallion designs, rich colors, and fine craftsmanship. These rugs are ideal for formal living rooms, dining rooms, and grand entryways.

Casual Rug Styles:

Kilim Rugs: Kilims are flat-woven rugs with geometric patterns and bright, cheerful colors. They are perfect for creating a relaxed, casual atmosphere in living rooms, bedrooms, or even outdoor spaces.

Farmhouse Rug Styles:

Oushak Rugs: Oushak rugs, with their muted colors and oversized, stylized floral motifs, can add a touch of rustic charm to a farmhouse-inspired interior. They work well in dining rooms, kitchens, and cozy family spaces.

Bohemian Rug Styles:

Kashan Rugs: Kashan rugs, known for their bold colors and intricate designs, can infuse a Bohemian-style room with a sense of cultural richness. They are often used in eclectic living spaces and bedrooms.

Transitional Rug Styles:

Heriz Rugs: Heriz and Serapi patterned rugs blend traditional and transitional design elements. Their geometric patterns and warm, earthy tones make them versatile enough to complement both classic and contemporary settings.

2. Combine Oriental Rugs with Modern Furnishings

Combining traditional red and blue Oriental rugs with modern or transitional furniture is an exciting way to create a harmonious blend of old-world charm and contemporary elegance.

By carefully considering design elements such as color, pattern, and size, you can seamlessly combine these timeless treasures with contemporary furniture to create a space that is both visually appealing and culturally rich. The fusion of old and new can result in a truly unique and inviting living environment.

Keshan Oriental Rug in Contemporary Living Room

Photo Source: Riamist Studio via Avotakka Magazine

3. Rug Size and Placement

Consider the size and layout of the room where you plan to place the rug. Oriental rugs come in various and sometimes odd sizes, so measure your space carefully to ensure the rug fits harmoniously. For example, in a living room, the rug should encompass the seating area with the furniture either all on the carpet or halfway under the furniture.

A dining room sized rug should allow for chairs to be pulled out and still be on the rug. For bedrooms, a bed can be placed entirely on the rug or use smaller rugs on the sides of the bed. Hallways are perfect for Oriental runners which are available in multiple sizes including extra long. Antique Oriental rugs often come in smaller sizes making them perfect to enhance entryways and foyers. Oriental carpets are also a great option for stair runners due to their design impact and ability to withstand heavy foot traffic.

Antique Oriental rug in hallway.

Photo: Sharafi and Co. via HOUZZ

4. Layering Rugs

For an eclectic and luxurious look, we love layering an Oriental rug over a larger, neutral cut to size area carpet. This adds texture and depth to your space and allows you to use a desirable small rug that's not quite the right size for your space. A jute or sisal natural fiber rug used as a base for your accent rug is excellent for this purpose.

Oriental Rug layered over a sisal carpet.

Photo via Decorilla

5. Rug Color Palette

Once you've chosen your perfect Oriental rug, you'll want to place it in a prominent position within your room. Oriental rugs are know for their distinctive, often bold, patterns that can serve as the focal point around which you can build the rest of your design elements. The colors in your rug will serve as your color palette, pulling out wall and upholstery colors to harmonize with your rug makes designing your room a breeze!

Consider the Rug's Dominant Colors:

Start by identifying the primary colors in your Oriental rug. These are the hues that stand out the most. For example, if your rug features predominately shades of warm golds and browns, as in the photo below, bring the warmth up onto your walls for an elegant monochromatic look. Alternatively, if your rug features cooler undertones, you'll want to keep your walls on the cooler side as well.

Ivory Orieintal rug in den.

Interior Design: About Space Studios, Photo: Nicole Leone, via HOUZZ

Transition with Gradual Shades:

If you want to introduce some color variation while maintaining a sense of continuity, consider using shades of the dominant color in your rug. For instance, if your rug is a deep shade of navy blue, choose a mid-tone blue for the walls such as in this room with the dark blue Oriental rug runner.

Oriental runner in hallway.

Interior Design: Lisa Wolfe Design, Ltd., via HOUZZ

Pull Out the Accent Color:

If your rug has accent colors (secondary colors), consider using one of these as a wall color to create a sense of balance and unity. This can tie the room together beautifully.

Red Oriental Rug in living room.

Interior Design: Lindsey Pincus Designs

In this room by Sherwin Williams, their paint color, Chinchilla, is used on the walls.

Sherwin Williams painted wall with red Oriental Rug.

Neutral Colors are a Safe Choice:

Neutrals like beige, ivory, cream, and soft gray are safe and versatile choices for wall color. They allow the rug to take center stage while providing a soothing backdrop. Neutral walls also work well if your Oriental rug is vibrant and busy.

Red and Blue Oriental rug in living room.

Interior Design: Hendrick Interiors, LLC., Photo: Amanda Archibald

6. Determine Your Budget

Oriental rugs come in a wide range of price points, from affordable options to collector's items worth many thousands of dollars. Expect hand-knotted wool Orientals to be higher priced then their machine-made counterparts due to their beauty and longevity. Some factors that determine price when shopping for an authentic Oriental rug are the quality of the material, design, knot count, dyeing technique, size, and the reputation of the rug maker. Market demand can also have a considerable affect on price. Because of the popularity of more contemporary rug designs over the past decade, discounted Oriental rugs are now readily available and more affordable than ever! Check out our Sale Rugs for some great rug bargains.

7. Your Personal Decorating Style

Trust your instincts and personal style. Combining a red Oriental rug with pink walls really makes this eclectic room pop. Your home should reflect YOUR tastes and preferences, so choose colors, furnishings, and accessories that make you feel comfortable and happy. You've chosen a rug that reflects your personal style, so don't be afraid to make your room, like an Oriental rug, truly one of a kind!

Red Turkish Oriental rug in living room.

Photo via HOUZZ

Final Thoughts on Decorating with Oriental Rugs

Oriental rugs offer a captivating way to infuse character, history, and artistry into modern or transitional interiors. The key to successfully marrying Oriental rugs with modern or transitional furnishings is finding a balance between old and new. The rug can add warmth, texture, and color to an otherwise sleek and minimalistic space, creating a compelling contrast. Whether you opt for an antique Persian masterpiece or a fresh off-the-loom Indian treasure, these luxurious rugs can elevate the aesthetics of any home. Embrace the journey of discovering the perfect Oriental rug for your space and savor the stories woven into every thread.

Our design consultants will love helping you find the right Oriental rug to beautify your home. Contact us today!

Other Resources:

Oriental Rug Gallery

Shop our Sale Rugs:


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