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  • Claire Rendall

Uncovered - a rug addiction story

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

Luxury interior design

Even the cold and wet of a British winter has not stopped the trend for ripping out carpets in favour of polished floor boards adorned with rugs. For years now DIYers and professional designers have been uncovering ‘what lies beneath’, then stripping, sanding, planing, repairing, polishing – or painting – timber floors, or laying new ones. Some of the most stunning I’ve seen have used reclaimed wood such as oak, elm and teak from sources as diverse as sailing ship decks, old manor houses, barns, and even former churches. In one of my designs I integrated 200-year-old oak flooring from a tobacco factory in the Loire Valley throughout an eclectic high-end interior scheme. It was delicious with wide boards and even though it was sanded to prepare for staining and waxing, it still had an inherent patina that only comes with age.

But this is when the fun really starts! Once the timber floor is prepared, it’s time to choose rugs that provide the right functionality and aesthetics. They are to floors what paintings are to walls … background accents that hold a room together. Some rugs make such a statement they can look amazing mounted on a wall. In many of my interiors I’ve found a perfect fit for striking Turkmen rugs.

The one featured in this photo is a Tekke design from the 19th century. Its bigger cousin found a home in a spacious living room I designed for a client’s primary residence. He wanted “sumptuous” so I went for the warm tones of this type of rug to enhance the rich timbers.

Some rugs are all that remain of disappearing nomadic cultures. I have spent many hours sitting on a pile of rugs listening to impassioned dealers bring these pieces to life. I love the stories of foraging for the right berries, making the dyes, carding and spinning the wool and then the making process. None of these patterns are written down, they are passed down through generations. For some of the nomadic cultures, the rug can be rolled up, still on the loom, packed onto the back of a camel or mule and taken to the next camp, the loom unpacked and the weaving continued. The amazing thing is that you would be often hard pressed to see where it was stopped and started again, the tension is still perfect. I find this craftsman (and woman!) ship very humbling. That some of these rugs are all that remains of some nomadic cultures makes them even more special.

With rugs as with much else, designs go with fashion and taste. I’ve noticed that recently the Beni Ourain rugs from Morocco have popped up. I love these rugs. Woven from natural undyed wool and traditionally decorated with brown, grey or black geometric designs, they are a wonderful base for a contemporary interior linking a long history of nomadic Berber tribes with modern interiors.

Then there are contemporary rugs and some are truly beautiful. For this contemporary interior I used a beautiful muted silky rug to contrast with the contemporary sofas and create a comfortable lounging area. It’s a neat trick with open plan spaces- you can subtly denote specific areas with rugs and so much more elegant than chalk marks on the floor!


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