Monday, April 28, 2008

The Little Black Dress of Rugs?

A few years ago, a friend purchased a second home and had it completely decorated before she moved in. Everything was purchased just for the house (lucky her) and the end result was a great mix of antiques and new items, casual and elegant.

One of my favorite things in the home is the unique sisal rug in the living room. It is called 'pueblo', and has an almost Greek key like pattern on it. Stark Carpets makes a version as well. I have since seen this sisal (or is it seagrass?) in countless magazines and homes. It seems to be a classic: a bit dressier than a plain sisal, long-lasting and versatile, it has the ability to work in any home, and just about any room. In fact, someone told me that Laura Bush selected this rug for the private quarters of the White House.

A close-up of 'Pueblo' made by Prestige Mills.

It is a bit difficult to see the pattern in this picture, but the diamond sisal works beautifully in this casually elegant room. Interior design by Caldwell-Beebe.

This picture is from a recent issue of Traditional Home. The rug is 'Natura', from Stark.

Both pictures show the same room; the pattern of the rug is a little difficult to see in the top picture, a little easier to see in the bottom picture. Isn't this a beautiful dining room? The diamond sisal works perfectly with the handpainted mural and the soft tones of the room. Interior design by Michael Carter, from Traditional Home.

Here is another example of how well this special sisal works in a dining room. It is elegant, but brings down the formality of the dining room and makes it younger and fresher. Interior design by Ashley Whittaker, via Peak of Chic.

Yet another example of this diamond seagrass used in a dining room. This room would be much heavier and overly formal if it weren't for the diamond sisal rug. Via Cote de Texas.

Todd Romano uses the diamond sisal in a living room. The plain fabrics allow the pattern on the rug to take center stage. Via Habitually Chic.

This picture is from the Atlanta Symphony Showhouse 2008. The interior designer is Carole Weaks. She used Stark's version of the diamond sisal because of its ability to work beautifully with the formal elements of the room.

Sheila Bridges uses the diamond sisal in a living room. The result is casually elegant and inviting.

This picture is from the Thibaut web site. The diamond sisal is the perfect touch.

In the larger version of this picture, it is easy to see the pattern on the seagrass, but not so easy to see in the small version. Here the diamond sisal is used in a formal setting, which shows its versatility.

John Peixinho, via Peak of Chic. Interestingly, I think the diamond sisal dresses this space up a bit (interesting because it is often used to take the formality of a room down a notch).

Clearly this rug is a favorite of Ashley Whittaker.

An image from Beall Thomas photography. The diamond sisal is the star of the neutral room.

Another dining room, another use of the diamond sisal. From Cathy Kincaid.

Clearly this diamond sisal is a designer favorite, but does it qualify to be called the 'little black dress' of rugs? To fit this definition, it must be a classic, not a trend. Only time will tell whether the popularity of seagrass and sisal will endure, or whether it will be a design trend clearly defined as early 21st century.

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  1. I do love this rug, but, I have to say, I see it a bit too often. I just had a client ask me if I could get it. Well, yes, but why don't we look at other things, too? She had her stack of tear sheets to convince me it was the thing. Not the thing she loved - the thing she sees over and over so it must be right. That is disappointing.

  2. I like the design, but as Mrs. B said, it is everywhere! And sisal, how does that hold up over time?

  3. Do you happen to know where the armoire/bookcase in the top photo came from?

  4. Do you happen to know where the armoire/bookcase in the top photo came from?

  5. Mrs. B, I love this rug too. Interesting about your client!

    PD, I always hear that sisal holds up well if it is not spilled on, but it is the spills that causes problems. Generally people do not care too much because sisal is so inexpensive, but the diamond pattern is quite expensive because it is only created at a few mills (so I have heard).

    Mygilttrip, the magazine I have says that the armoire fromt he 1st picture is a Swedish antique.

  6. West Elm and www.homedecorators.com have inexpensive diamond jute rugs for any of those interested. Just type in "diamond jute" and they will pop up.

  7. Sisal and seagrass rugs have been around for as long as I have been decorating. They seem to come and go in popularity but have always been a staple in classic traditional decorating especially here in Michigan in the northern cottage resort communities.
    I agree that they may be a bit overused now as a default easy choice for floor covering.

  8. Thank you for showing the various types of decor where sisal can be used. We have considered it, as it could be cut to fit a rather unusually sized room. I was concerned about it coordinating with mahogany furniture and bright artwork that we used with a Karastan 717 area rug.

    I've been concerned if it would be practical in rooms where children or adults would be sitting on the floor. Scratchy?

  9. Very interesting topic! I recently painted that Ashley Whittaker dining room for her as a commission and so spent a good bit of time looking at and reproducing that carpet pattern, so it's amazing to see how often that same pattern is used by designers. Thanks!!

  10. It's everywhere, yes, but it's classic. I really like the diamond pattern.

    ps spills cause more than problems...i've found it's over once that occurs ; )

  11. I'm in love with this rug ! It is gorgeous ! I love its name diamonds sisal

  12. I have never quite seen the appeal of these rugs. I like the way they look but every sisal rug I've touched seems awfully itchy and scratchy. I can't imagine walking on this in bare feet or even sock feet. Ugh. I have seen them in wool blends and whatnot and they are vaguely softer.

    I think the seagrass ones are softer because they are more like woven reeds and don't have the scratchy bits, but I am not entirely sure precisely which is which really.

    I had a jute rug in university, and because the rugs are totally porous, you accumulate lots of dirt under the rug, against the floor. Every time you vacuum you really need to take it up and vaccum the dirt out from under! The fibres also slowly broke down and added to the mess.

    I really don't see the appeal in a nice house. They seem so coarse to me. I would only use one outside or as a doormat. But maybe I am missing something and there are nice, soft versions??!

    Great post Sarah!

  13. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    Terri, I just heard that this diamond pattern is going to be made in a wool version. I can't wait to see it! I remember when I first started seeing the sisal rugs in people's houses, and I was amazed that people with young kids would even consider it...those poor babies crawling on such a scratchy rug! However, there are some that are much softer than others. I can't remember if it is seagrass that is softer or sisal.

  14. I think sisal and seagrass are a design classic - they never seem to date, but the diamond/greek - key pattern may be a trend that will die off.

  15. You have such an amazing eye!! Love all the images (included are shared taste). I like the carpet, and even if it's popular, I don't think it's a turn-off in this instance. It's a pretty neurtal piece, not a zebra throw rug.

  16. I'm pretty sure sisal is scratchy and seagrass is smooth, but I had the same problem with my sisal rug in my first apartment and finally threw it out in disgust. I think Joni said the seagrass is easier to take care of. Its a nice look, particulary in the camp/cottage setting, but I still love the richness of a good "oriental" rug, and the softness of the wool. Some of them wear forever and ever.

  17. You know, I like this rug. It works. But I don't think it is a must have. I think it is an "easy" way to go because it's durable and goes with everything.

  18. Wow I really love the living room with the natuzzi rug in it! Love the bright colors.

  19. And I forgot to say that I never noticed that all of these rooms had the same rug - wow! It's not original at all with everyone using the same exact rug and it becomes expected.

  20. I agree sisal and seagrass are a classic. My mum had one in our home 30 years ago and now I'm shopping around and planning to put one in my family room.

    Like blue and white china, for me, it's a comfort staple.

    Anna :)

  21. Yeah - seagrass is soft, sisal is scratchy and coir is the worst. I've used that rug from Starke and it made the client's room. I don't understand Mrs. B's attitude - if a client had a million tearsheets of one thing, obviously she liked it becuase come on - there are other floorings in magazines - this one is relatively rare. great post!

  22. What is the best looking binding for a foyer? Also, how much floor do you reveal?


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