The most typically American area rug – the one that says home and comfort immediately on entering a room – is the traditional oval braided rug. How did these simple but unique rugs come to be such a staple in American decor?
Braided rugs got their start in the late 1700s for the most pragmatic of reasons: warmth. Putting down a rug helped retain heat and increased comfort. Surprisingly, many of the first decorative rugs in America were made of braided straw. As textile mills became widespread in the New England states during the early 1800s, woolen scraps were available. Once this superior material was at hand, women began using factory scraps or pieces of worn-out clothing to cut into strips and braid.
The oldest rugs tend to use whatever colors were available, though it became traditional to use dark shades – especially black – around the outer edges of the rug. This made a sort of frame to set off the rug and increased its visual appeal. Some rugs were braided into different shapes than the standard oval: rectangles, stripes, or even circles tangential to one another. Regardless of shape, all added color, warmth, and comfort to the room.
Nowadays there are a variety of ways to incorporate braided rugs into a living space. Traditional ovals, rounds, rectangles, and stripes are available in many color combinations ranging from subdued shades to brights and classic country shades. Another eye-catching option is a rug in which the central area is hooked, often with a floral pattern, and then the outer edges bound off with several rows of braiding to set off the main design.
The traditional feeling and simple visual appeal of braided rugs can provide a relaxing counterpoint to the busy digital world around us, completely changing the feeling of a room. If you are interested to purchase a braided rug, don’t miss the Colonial Mills Collection. Please feel free to contact us when you’re ready for ideas on choosing area rugs.