Decorating & Design

May 20, 2009

Affordable Rugs

If you’re a carpet commitment-phobe, a flatweave area rug might be right for you. Area rugs provide the under-foot comfort of carpet without the cost and permanence of covering the entire floor. They can be used to define an area in an open-concept condo, brighten up a cottage, protect the surface of hardwood or add a personal touch to a tired room. Their mobility makes them easy to clean and switch up as your decor evolves. But before you set out to buy, it helps to know the lingo.

What is a flatweave rug?

Flatweave describes flat pile or no-pile rugs known for their durability and strength. They are made on a loom rather than knotted. They are considered less formal than oriental or Persian rugs. Their bold colours, geometric patterns and low cost make them perfect for casual living, cottages and brightening up floors for the summer. Standard sizes are 3′ by 6′, 4’ by 6’, 4’ by 9’ and 9’ by 12’. For more information on what size an area rug should be, check out Cameron MacNeil’s video.

Look for these common types of flatweaves:


  • usually have soft and delicate colours detailed with floral and architectural designs
  • today, most are handmade in China and given a chemical wash to achieve a faded effect
  • best for mixing with antiques or used in a more traditional space


  • usually made in India from wool, cotton or jute yarn
  • one of the least expensive options
  • available in a range of hues and patterns, but tend to be simple rather than ornate
  • reversible
  • best for muddy or sandy entryways or areas where they’ll be replaced often


  • usually made of rough wool with no pile
  • originally handwoven by nomadic people in countries including Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan
  • narrow, smaller looms were easily transported by nomadic people, making large antique kilims a rare find today
  • commonly produced using a relatively simple weaving process that leaves a small space between two colours or around the border of their patterns
  • characterized by bright colours, geometric patterns, diamond and octagon shapes, patterns with clear symmetry and contrasting colours
  • reversible
  • best for decorative floor coverings in lightly trod areas like dining rooms and bedrooms


  • use an embroidery technique that loops around a wool or cotton foundation
  • specialized technique makes them durable and long-lasting, but more expensive than dhurries and kilims
  • often picturesque: look for bird and plant motifs instead of stripes or geometrics
  • while older soumaks weren’t reversible because threads were left uncut at the back, new production techniques now make reversible styles
  • best for low-traffic areas or as an alternative to traditional wall tapestries

To browse gorgeous flatweaves, both affordable and higher-end options, check out the Focus page in the July 2009 issue of House & Home.

Learn about more carpet styles and materials in How To Choose Carpets or about different types of area rugs in Shopping For Area Rugs.

Author: Gwen McAuley

Mark Burstyn