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Contemporary Oriental rugs: Softer colors, bolder patterns

This rug, loomed like an Oriental rug, has

This rug, loomed like an Oriental rug, has a contemporary design. This was on the floor of a Roslyn house on Dec. 17, 2015. Photo Credit: Uli Seit

There’s a good chance that you might not recognize the next Oriental rug you see in a shop window.

“The trend is softer colors and patterns, which work nicer with today’s furniture designs and tastes,” says Dennis Shokrian, who owns East Hampton Rugs. “All the weaving regions are moving away from the traditional design and making more contemporary patterns.”

That might be because rug designs and color trends change every decade, says Abraham Levi Moheban, an authority on antique carpets and author of newly released “The Encyclopedia of Antique Carpets” (Princeton Architectural Press, $250). “Over 20 years ago, people would enjoy traditional designs with rich coloration in their homes,” he says. “Today, color trends have shifted to lighter earth tones in rugs with abstract patterns.”

Oriental rugs are made in countries such as India, China, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and India, and are traditionally 100 percent wool. Today’s designs are often mixed with silk or viscose rayon fiber to create a lighter look.

Some have stopped using the term “Oriental rug” because it is “considered old-fashioned,” says Robert Hakimi, owner of Designer Rugs & Carpet by Peykar in Syosset. Earlier this year, he sold off all the rugs in his showroom that had any Oriental feel to them at all. “Now we are focusing on only modern rugs,” Hakimi says.

Here are three examples of updated rugs and how they were worked into Long Island rooms.


A sleek Oriental rug helped designer Deborah Baum update the look of this Roslyn home. “We went from a very traditional house from 14 years ago, with the reds and browns, leather furniture and Oriental rugs that had lots of green and red detail to a very transitional contemporary look,” says Baum, who is based in Roslyn Heights. “It’s not over-the-top modern, but has cleaner lines, geometric prints, fabrics and contemporary lighting.” In the living room, she used an 8-by-10-foot rug with an abstract patterm of grays, blues and silvers and then built the rest of the room around that. It combines wool with shiny viscose rayon. “The Oriental rug of today is more about texture,” says Baum. “Viscose is shiny and silky and wool is dull. We used a more subtle palette, but more texture.”


In decorating her home office, Merrick designer Wendy Garfield chose a 5-by-8-foot rug made in India of 100 percent wool and inspired by antique Moroccan tribal designs. “These rugs are very popular in contemporary homes today,” she says. “They have a rustic and industrial look to them.” In general, she says, Moroccan designs are very hip and in style now in home decor. The colors are earthy beiges and brown tones. “For my office, the rug is a little more casual than some of the other items in the space, particularly the ornate desk I use, but good design should always have contrast,” she says.


For this newly built house in Bellmore, designer Marlaina Teich had the opportunity to be as creative as she wanted, since the homeowner requested a look that was different from her previous home, which was traditional both in color and style. The new home was going to have more of a Hollywood glam mix of shine and material combined with a subtle bohemian vibe, explains Teich. “I wanted a rug with no borders, otherwise that would confine the space,” she says. She chose an 8 1⁄2 -by-11-foot rug from India constructed of wool with an ultrasilk pile on a cotton foundation. It has a deconstructed damask pattern in a muted wash of raspberry and grays. “It is gorgeous,” says Teich, referring to the hand-knotted detail and color scheme.

What to look for

  • Abraham Levi Moheban offers the following tips for purchasing an Oriental rug, traditional or modern:
  • Look for a label on the back of the rug that states that the rug is handmade and knotted and the country of origin. “Under federal law, woven imports have labeling requirements to help consumers identify where the rugs are made,” says Moheban.
  • In modern rugs, look into the knot count per square inch. The higher the knot count, the finer the quality, and that translates into a more valuable rug, he says.
  • Coarser and looser weaving and flat weaves are typically less expensive than a pile.
  • A wool pile is the recommended choice for floor coverings, instead of a silk pile or a flat woven technique.
  • If interested in an antique rug, find a reliable source. Evaluate the condition. Any repairs, wear spots and unraveling of the selvages will affect the value. Avoid a rug that has been painted to cover up wear areas at the base of the rug. Antique rugs that have a full pile without any repair or wear are valuable and will probably continue to grow as an investment.

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