Emily Henderson Header Image Emily Henderson

What Makes A Rug Timeless?

52 Timeless Patterned Rugs

Emily-Henderson_Ian-Brennans-House_Living-Room-1

As someone who loves pattern,  especially on a rug, I’m constantly asking myself if that pattern is truly timeless. Many of us fell into the 2005 chevron trap, and that was a real zig zag disaster visually and emotionally. In a way it’s always confused me because the chevron is a timeless pattern, so what happened? I’ve decided it was the scale and the bright color-way that became so ubiquitous so fast, that the poor pattern felt dated so quickly (see #12, a chevron that I actually still LOVE). Regardless, I know that it’s a fear when people are buying pattern. Even as designers we ask ourselves very often, will this pattern be timeless??

Emily_Henderson_Bri_Emery_Design_Lovefest_Living_Room_Makeover

So I pulled together this roundup myself and I feel pretty confidant in saying that all of these rugs are timeless. Sure, some of these are popular now, but I think they are safe choices that will not have to be replaced. I even had my team look at these all and they agreed.

But first,  What makes a pattern truly ‘timeless’? And here are my answers:

1. ‘Classic’ is always timeless.  What is classic? Persians, Kilims, Moroccan motifs, stripes, plaids, and simple patterns. When the design feels ‘new and funky’ is when it is risky.

Emily-Henderson_Emilys-House_Living-Room-1

2. High quality is always timeless – really well-made rugs out of quality wool will always be in fashion. Acrylic and polyester can be a good option but they don’t wear as well as wool so they have less longevity (and if they are really cheap, they look it).

3. Neutrals are timeless. Colors go in and out of style but gray, white, cream, oatmeal, black, and blues are always in. As you can see most of these below are on the neutral side of things.  Moroccans, Persians or Kilims will ALWAYS be in style especially if you  stay away from crazy bright colors (over-dyed and neon included). I like some over-dyed options and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy them, but do I personally think they are guaranteed to feel timeless in 10 years? Not really. The acrylic wanna-be Persians in burgundy from the 90’s aren’t timeless because they are cheaply made out of cheap materials. I’ve seen so many beautiful burgundy Persian rugs that are timeless because they are intricately made, with a unique pattern in a high quality wool. So if you want to go that route, keep that in mind.

Emily-Henderson_Lisas-House_Living-Room-5

4. The larger the pattern, the more likely it will NOT be timeless (this is a confident generalization). A small pattern reads as a texture and texture is always in fashion. I chose some below that are a larger pattern and I believe these are timeless, but the large-scaled florals out there are not timeless (I’m not saying there aren’t some that I like, but I wouldn’t call them ‘timeless’).

5. Solid rugs and sisals are always timeless, obviously, so I’ve not included them in this roundup.

But listen, not every rug needs to be timeless. Sometimes it’s fun to buy a really bright kilim because that is your style and you keep it for 10 years. So what? Don’t go thinking that you should never buy a colorful rug, you SHOULD!! Just know that there is more of a risk with a bright rug, than a neutral rug and more of a risk with a big pattern than with a smaller one.

A few notes on the below: Yes, timeless rugs are more expensive as you can see (but you’ll have them forever because they are timeless, therefore worth the investment). I tried to find a few more affordable ones for you (#5, #13, #40, #33). All prices reflect the size that is closest to 8×10 (some are 7×10).

Shop with confidence, folks. These rugs are good investments, classic, beautiful and safe.

Timeless Patterned Rugs Emily Henderson Design roundup large area rugs

1. Maressa Rug | 2. Teniya Rug | 3. Sierra Wool Rug | 4. Tate Rug | 5.Bermuda Rug | 6. Alondra Rug | 7. Massinissa Rug | 8. Khotan Rug | 9. Maritime Rug | 10. Grid Rug | 11. Faiza Rug | 12. Alia Rug | 13. Charleigh Rug | 14. Houndstooth Rug | 15. Bow-Tie Rug | 16. Skyline Rug | 17. Icelandia Rug | 18. Riven Rug | 19. Citra Rug | 20. Moderne Geometric Rug | 21. Open Pasture Rug | 22. Triango Rug | 23. Stitched Pyramid Rug | 24. Ashra Rug | 25. Alondra Rug | 26. Palma Rug | 27.Persian Garden Rug | 28. Traza Rug | 29. Bedouin Kilim Rug | 30. Mariposa Rug | 31. Boldstripe Rug | 32. Costa Rug | 33. Kenya Rug | 34. Emilie Rug | 35. Criss Cross Rug | 36. Desert Rug | 37. Herringbone Rug | 38. Nolita Seaside Rug | 39. Raleigh Park Rug | 40. Recar Stripe Rug | 41. Kenwood Rug | 42. Safiyah Rug | 43. Alexis Rug in Grey | 44. Turn Key Rug | 45. Montouk Rug | 46. Framework Rug | 47. Traced Diamond Kilim Rug | 48. Diamond Rug | 49. Finola Rug | 50 Tattersall Rug | 51. Mont Wool Rug | 52. Flynn Rug

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Emily, this is my very favorite round up of all! I’m definitely in the market for a living room rug, and all these options are beautiful. Thank you for your hard work – this post is being bookmarked ASAP!

  2. Hey Emily,
    Long time reader here. I love everything you do and find myself repeating advice from your book in my head every time I’m making a design decision. My best descisions are because of you!! Rugs are my favorite and yet the hardest thing to make a decision about – largely because of price and many poor rug choices in the past! Last week – ahead of this post – I took the plunge and bought the Stockholm Rug from IKEA. I couldn’t stand the “too small rug disease” in my livingroom anymore and was obsessing over the decision for months. I felt my choice was safe with black and white, the 100% wool material and the fact that the rug has been in every IKEA catalog I can remember – so that makes it a classic, right? 😉 anyway, I’m so relieved to see that a Stockholm rug look-alike make your list of timeless choices. I now feel validated and can move on to the next big decision. Thanks for everything you do and share!!!!

    1. YES! It is timeless. It was on the list but I think got removed for some reason. But yes, great choice. and thanks for all your nice words 🙂

      1. I agree, the stockholm black white rug is the most affordable neutral yet not “blend into your floor” kind of rug (think solid beige rug), it’s a good choice for folks who are not entirely sure or doesn’t want to spend too much on rugs. 🙂 And they have 2 sizes.

  3. Love these! I have #50 in b&w in my daughter’s room… Right now. Had it for 10 years and its been in our entry, my son’s room, living room, now her room. Many years and many rooms later, I definitely agree that it’s timeless!! Love how it works with trendier short-lived pieces as well as classic forever pieces.

  4. I was a little late to the game, but totally a sucker for the chevron about 5 years ago. However, my cats have totally torn it up, so I get to replace it now. Any suggestions for rugs the cats can’t dig their claws into, and is easy to vacuum?

  5. I was wondering if you could comment on durability in regard to many of these neutral rugs. I see so many beautiful neutral rugs but wonder how they’ll hold up with two toddlers, a teenager, large dog, and – let’s be honest – me and my late night wine and snacks. 🙂 I’ve been eyeing #16 for awhile now but even that one makes me nervous (doesn’t have to be white to show dirt or stains) I’m all for saving and investing in quality pieces but I just worry I’m setting myself up for failure and don’t have much wiggle room financially to make big mistakes. Help!

    1. Hi Jen – in my opinion a good old synthetic from Amazon IS a good investment with your circumstances. Basically, you are powerless against those kinds of forces; don’t spend your money on an expensive rug that one explosive diaper, a slice of pizza, or a skunk-attacked dog could undo in one fell swoop. Get something cute, non-shaggy and synthetic. It’ll look good till those toddlers are 10 year olds and then you can reconsider the circumstances. BTW – I got a lovely 8×10 synthetic rug on Amazon for my den for $200. It has a lot of pattern, is stain resistant (love them plastic bottle fibers), and I don’t care if it dies a horrible death by dog/toddler/teenager. I’ve been eyeing #16 myself, but I wouldn’t do it with that many rug-assasins in the house. I only have 1 kid and I wish I had done more cheap rugs. Our old, sick cat destroyed our nicer, more expensive, and frankly, much harder to clean rugs.

    2. Have you considered looking at indoor/outdoor rugs? I bought a neutral patterned one 5yrs ago from target and it has held up so well to our pets!

  6. How fab are those target options for the price? Even if they aren’t the best quality, you can see them being great for a kids room or something where stains are probable…

    I have to say though I couldn’t agree more with the ‘quality as best option’ rug. I have had 3 or 4 ~$500 rugs and EVERY SINGLE one was a disaster (and they were from well known interior design brands!). Most of them either shed non-stop (for 4 years) or absorb every single hair and stain like they are gripping for their life. Recently I bought $1000 overdyed turkish rug on Etsy, and it was the single best investment I made for my room. Yes, the dark teal color may not be timeless, but the quality is so good that I can’t imagine ever getting another rug!

    Here is what it looks like in my living room- obsessed with it, and I think I will make it 10 years 😉
    http://thestylesafari.com/?p=8619

    -Stefanie

  7. So what do I do with all these lovely Pottery Barn rugs that I purchased 8 years ago–still in great shape, but apparently not “timeless”. HELP!

  8. Nice! The photo at the top of the page is from IAN BRENNAN’S HOUSE (in your portfolio) but neither this post nor this part of your portfolio provide the source for the rug. I’d love to look it up, it’s a dandy!

    -Emily

  9. Excellent round up. But you might add Navajo rugs into the mix. Not the cheap ones but the real deal. Worth the price in my opinion.. Love them.

  10. I think #36 links to the wrong one…I can’t seem to find the Lulu & Georgia rug shown (it links to a different rug on World Market). Help! 🙂

  11. Really loving the Lulu & Georgia and Serena & Lily picks. We’ve been looking to switch things up in our living room, so we’re definitely bookmarking this post. Thanks. 🙂 Happy Friday!

  12. For me, rugs are one of the most difficult purchases to press “go” on. There are SO MANY styles I love, depending on the space. And I often find vastly different styles will work in a space, but they all definitely give a room its style meaning traditional vs modern, etc. I’m constantly waffling between the time-worn Gustovian aesthetic vs that California clean modern.

  13. Emily,
    I never comment but read your blog religiously. You are killing it with these round up product posts–I have loved and used almost every single one. I was desperately in need of a great rug for my playroom that opens up to our family room and after searching for weeks, just purchased #13 above. I love it! Thank you again for helping all of us make design more accesible for our own homes. All your efforts do not go unappreciated! You and your team are the best.  

    Amna

  14. I would LOVE to see a round up of family friendly rugs. We impluse purchased a beautiful cream patterned flokati rug from west elm during a mega sale for our living room and after several months, I’m realizing it was a mistake to put this rug in the living room that gets to much traffic. Cheerios (and god knows what else) from our toddler get lost in there, I’m constantly terrified he’s going to spill something like green smoothie on it, and when we were watching a friend’s dog over the summer I realized that if he had diarrhea then the rug would be trashed. So, what are some good tips for rugs that clean easily and what colors/patterns are best for the years where small children (and possibly pets) are running around?

    I keep coming back to Flor tiles as the ultimate practical choice, but I just can’t bring myself to pull the trigger…

    1. I have Flor in two places- my dining room and entry. I LOVE them- so easy to clean and look great. If you have a Flor style you love, go for it!

  15. SO amazing and helpful as usual. Now when is the nursery reveal for Ian and Tribley’s house??? (I think that’s the top pic). I need inspiration for mine and have been waiting…

    1. I certainly can appreciae your opinion and expertise on timeless rugs. However,I have two overdyed patchwork rugs (one pink and one aqua) in my side by side living and dining rooms. I know eventually I will tire of them but I sure love them now! They are the main pop of color in the rooms and I just love them!

      1. I am commenting on my post because I forgot to mention that when my cats barf on these overdyed rugs it doesn’t show a stain after cleanup!

    2. First time commenter here! Love this blog and your round ups are amazing.

      Quick question – what about coordinating rugs that will sit near each other – i.e open concept living and dining room with hardwood floors? Any tips on blending colors/styles/patterns? Or is it best to stick to one basic (like sisal) with one pattern/ color? It’s sooo difficult to commit to one, much less two.

  16. As parents of a 6 and 4 year old and a baby, in the last 4 years we have purchased 3 new rugs from theanou.com, which is an association founded by former Peace Corps volunteers and offering fair trade Moroccan rugs (and is definitely priced better than what we have elsewhere here in Europe – I don’t know about the US). Anyway, I justified these purchases because I know that families in Morocco use these rugs all over their houses while still generously welcoming company and without fear of spills. We’ve since had coffee spills and uncapped magic markers, crayon coloring, etc on our light-colored Beni ourain rug, and I swear I’ve never noticed! Plus we have a saying to the effect that if a rug/fork/chair didn’t want to be used, it should never have existed in the first place! Poor translation, but my point is to get what you love and enjoy it – don’t settle for something you don’t like because you are worried about stains.

    1. Great round up Emily and thank you to RL for sharing http://www.theanou.com. What a great company. I love the idea that you are buying direct from the people who make the products and the profit stays with them. They have some beautiful rugs and they ship worldwide! I will definitely be bookmarking that website and going back to them when I’m ready to commit to a new rug.

    2. Thank you as well for sharing theanou.com! I hadn’t ever heard of this site but the rugs are gorgeous , well priced, and the cost includes shipping! Plus, its nice to know where your money is actually going. Thanks again for sharing.

  17. This was such a helpful post. And I’m right there with you about the Chevron. I too wondered how it became so dated when it’s been around for years. I think I need a good 10 years and a renewed persoective before I reconsider it again, ha!

  18. I really like the dear information you offer in your articles. I’m able to bookmark your site and show the kids check out up here generally. Im fairly positive theyre likely to be informed a great deal of new stuff here than anyone.

  19. WOW! I’m impressed – this list is fantastic and will come in handy as I’m rethinking our Manhattan Beach “beach casual” look. I’m afraid our 2 toddler boys were weapons of mass destruction on our family rug and it’s now time for another warhorse rug. Thanks for the resource – you are awesome!

  20. I live in a beige apartment with my husband and two kids and feel like I need some help making it feel lived in! I think a rug would help but can I put a rug on cream carpet? Please help! Apartment decorating is hard!

  21. I think the most important thing is to pick something that you genuinely love. I have a red/green/tan hand knotted Persian wool rug for about 10 years and I’ll never part with it. The red is a beautiful brick red tone and is great with a neutral colored sofa. For me, it’s timeless. I know someone who splurged on a wool muted ocelot print. Not for everyone, but perfect for her.

  22. Wow, the chevron craze started in 2005? I ‘noticed’ it in 2011, bought a chevron rug for my son’s room, and thought I was on top of things! (Thought to be evidenced by my calling it “zig-zig” at the time and not “chevron.” Ha!) “Emotional disaster” – LOL (yes)!! I got rid of the rug at a garage sale this past summer. 🙂

    Thanks a ton for your thoughts on rugs and for the roundup. Always questioning how I would know if a rug is timeless!

  23. Charlie Brown called, and this year for Christmas, all he wants is his shirt back! Zig zag disaster !! I have fortunately stayed away from the Chevron print because of it’s symbolism. I am a copywriter and study rugs for Esmaili Rugs & Antiques, Inc. The chevron is the sign for the vulva (open thighs) – it symbolizes fertility. While the X-shape represents the body with arms and legs spread out. It shows the woman is “open” and ready to conceive. This information can be found in the book: Berber Carpets of Morocco: The Symbols Origin and Meaning by Bruno Barbatti (page 21). Now you can giggle every time someone purchases a chevron patterned item too!

  24. This is a great round-up!
    I do think, though, that rug #1, which looks a lot like the Souk rug from West Elm, is going to look dated. Not because it isn’t classic but because it’s so popular. Anything that ubiquitous and trendy goes out of style. Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s a beautiful rug…but in 3 years we will be saying, “Oh that’s such a 2015-2016 look!” My current rug is multi-colored and large patterned, but I have a kid and a dog and a baby, so it’s getting WRECKED. I plan to change it out in a couple of years anyway.

  25. That first pic made me immediately think of your new house!
    We have been clearing out and making piles of furniture and bits n bobs to donate and are seriously gonna put a bid in on that house, inspired by your bravery! Whoo Hoo!

  26. I blog frequently and I really thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest. I will book mark your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. keep continuous..

  27. I LOVE this! Thank you so much! I was wondering if you had any thoughts on multiple rugs in a house and how to tie them all together? Our Chicago condo is long and hardwood floors the whole way, with each room going into the next. Therefore, we need lots of rugs but I’m not sure exactly how to mix and match yet have a cohesive theme. Any thoughts, I would REALLY appreciate it!

  28. Any tricks for keeping a Kilim rug clean? My vacuum has so much suction it becomes a family affair to hold down the edges while one person vacuums – it’s comical, but too much work! On a related note in my own finding-a-rug-journey, you can’t go for loops with a cat, tufted is better. (And easier to vacuum.)
    Thanks for any tips! Love your style and blog.

  29. Hi there, I loved reading all the information about rugs!! Thank you!! I was wondering if you had any tips for what type of rug to buy for a high traffic/kid area?

  30. Hi Emily! I’ve tried to reference this post several times since you posted it, but the graphic showcasing all of the rugs hasn’t been visible for a while now! I know you’re crazy busy but if there’s any way to have it fixed it would be most appreciated! Thank you for all that you do!

  31. I can easily come up with ten really iconic stories/trade paperbacks for Superman, Batman, others… name me ten equally big, iconic Wonder Woman stories. Much harder. That ain’t the character’s fault, that isn’t sexism, that’s just not servicing the character.