Designing with Natural Fiber Rugs

{I used a sisal rug with a geometric pattern by Patterson Flynn Martin in the room I designed for the 2019 Kips Bay Showhouse. | Photography by Brittany Ambridge}

One of the questions I get all the time on social media is about my favorite natural fiber rugs. As you can see from my projects featured here, I use natural fiber rugs quite a bit! The purpose of a rug from a design perspective is to add texture and to ground the room. Because rugs literally set the foundation of a room, they play an important role in the overall design scheme of a space and can act as the foundation for the overall color palette and textiles used.

{I used a chunky abaca weave called “Keno” by Patterson Flynn Martin in the dining room I designed for the 2020 Lake Forest Showhouse.| Photography by Aimee Mazzenga}

While I love tailored, glamorous elements in design, I often use natural fiber rugs, which lend an effortless, relaxed quality to any room and can keep it from feeling too formal, as you see in the dining room pictured above. The other great thing about natural fiber rugs such as seagrass, sisal, and jute is that they can be pretty durable, neutral, and generally inexpensive. I recently discovered that sisal can be Fiber Sealed which has been a game-changer in my own home because Tate only ever gets sick on the sisal rug in our dining room! It cleans up beautifully and doesn’t stain since I’ve had my rugs sealed. While we most often have rugs custom cut from vendors like Patterson Flynn Martin and Stark to suit our clients’ spaces, there are plenty of great options that you can purchase directly, even if you aren’t working with a designer. Some of them even allow for custom sizing.

 

{I get a ton of questions about the rugs in my home. This is Canyon Sisal in Limestone from Williams Sonoma Home. It’s the prettiest color and a great value!}

{A simple seagrass rug adds texture to this client’s living room. | Photography by Kerry Kirk}

{We chose a geometric sisal for this client’s family room to add a graphic touch. | Photography by Kerry Kirk}

{Tate loves our sisal rugs!}

{A Very Large, Custom Cut Sisal in a Client’s Formal Living Room | Photography by Kerry Kirk}

{You can also find round rugs like the one we used in this client’s breakfast room! | Photography by Kerry Kirk}


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  1. This was very informative. I like the look of sisal and natural rugs but need durability and worry particularly about spills. I wasn’t aware these could be sealed against stains, do you have them sealed professionally or just use sisal rug spray on sealer?

    1. Hi ladies! Yes, they have to be professionally sealed. I use a company called Fiber seal. They have offices all over the country. It really is remarkable! We’ve spilled water and wine and my dog has vomitted on my sisal rugs and you would never know it because they clean up beautifully!

      I don’t think seagrass can be sealed, but if you do have a spill, you can brew some black tea and blot it with a paper towel to put the color back into the rug.