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A Braided Rug Renaissance

There’s no doubt about it: braided rugs are back! Rarely a day goes by without our samples being excitedly thumbed through. Perhaps it’s because, as Norma and Elizabeth Sturges—authors of The Braided Rug Book—put it, braided rugs represent “hearth, home, comfort, family, and love.” Isn’t it amazing that a simple rug can conjure up all of that?!

Braided Beginnings

In the early years, wooden floors of American homes were covered with straw or rush-woven mats. These primitive coverings didn’t contribute much to a home’s comfort or warmth. While European rugs were available beginning around 1750, only the wealthy could afford woolen imports, so the average American used the straw they had. Wool did become readily obtainable in the states in the early 1800s, and, around 1839, the power loom made commercially produced rugs available. However, these coverings were still too expensive for the general public. So, New England housewives got crafty. They already knew how to braid straw mats, why not try the technique with wool, they thought. And the braided rug was born. Braided rugs were an extremely popular floor covering then, as they were more durable, warmer, and more decorative than their straw counterparts, all while remaining affordable options. Also called “rag rugs,” they could be created from leftover scraps of materials and even strips torn from old clothes and blankets. It’s thought that the braided rug reached its height of popularity in the early 1900s, during the Arts and Crafts movement. The housing boom and its promotion of wall-to-wall carpeting that occurred after World War II brought their—as well as area rugs in general—decline. Unfortunately, the craft of rug braiding experienced a decline in popularity, too, leaving fewer expert rug braiders to carry on the long-standing folk art tradition.

Rag Rugs Rise Again

Trends come and go, and despite going out of fashion in the 60s, braided rugs are now back on the scene. In fact, since many are taking a “green” approach to furnishing their homes and are opting for area rugs over carpeting—which can negatively affect indoor air quality—rugs in general are experiencing a rise in popularity. Just as they were in the 1800s, rag rugs are durable, comfortable, and affordable choices. They’re reversible and can be made of a myriad of materials—from chenille to cotton and acrylic to wool. They’re also, as mentioned in the opening paragraph of this post, symbolic of a simpler time.

We’ve Got You (Well, Really Your Floor) Covered

Rug & Home carries braided rugs by Colonial Mills, a Rhode Island manufacturer who is the leader in braided rugs and who blends old-school craftsmanship with innovative design.  Their braided rugs are 100% U.S.A. designed and manufactured, plus, their styles and designs are fashion-forward with colors and patterns to coordinate with today's home decors.  You’ll find samples for almost every braided rug in their product line in our stores, and our design associates are happy to go through them with you to help find and order the best option. While you may begrudge the ordering process (and we don’t blame you; it’s nice to leave with a new purchase in-hand), we offer our braided rugs this way so you can get exactly the size, colors and materials needed for your space. And because it’s Rug & Home, you can get them for 30% off the suggested retail price!

Big On Braids?

We’d love to hear why you’re single-handedly helping bring braided rugs back in style. Do you choose them for durability? Their cottage feel? Their symbolism? Comment here! Or, email us photos of braided rugs in your home, and we’ll upload them to our customer Facebook album! Sources: We consulted a variety of sources for this post. A Google search of “The History of Braided Rugs” brings up many articles. If you’re interested in learning the craft of braiding rugs, check out the book we mentioned published by local publisher Lark Books: The Braided Rug Book by Norma and Elizabeth Sturges, which also includes a detailed history of the craft. You can read a preview HERE.


  • 1. rugandhome on

    Thanks for your comment and feedback Polly! We completely agree – braided rugs give warmth and comfort to a room that is irreplaceable! And the great thing is that rug manufacturers are reinventing braided rugs in fashion-forward ways that make them feel less “country” (unless that is the look that one is going for, in which case, there are still a lot of braided rugs available in that style) and more up-to-date. They also are using softer materials to produce them like polypropylene and cotton, which often feels cooler and more comfortable under foot than wool. We hope you enjoy your braided rugs and come see us when more mania for them hits you :)

  • 2. Polly on

    I renovated a home recently, using cork floors. I initially went with bamboo rugs, as I wanted to be totally as far away from carpet as I could get :)
    After time, I missed the softness and warm of a “real rug”. I started with the den, adding a braided oval rug and I have to tell you, I loved it.
    I loved the design, the comfort, the durability and the oval shape..
    Now, I have braided rug mania – and am now going to replace my bamboo rugs in the living, family, and dining room.
    It does give such a coziness and warmth, and it just makes me look at a square rug in a bad way.

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