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Rug Styles- What makes a Traditional or Contemporary Rug?

Finding your perfect rug vision in a sea of thousands of different designs can be a frustrating task when you can’t describe what you’re looking for. Many London Rug shops have a vast array of different rug styles both online and in store and the choice can be overwhelming. A good rug store will have expert salespeople on hand to help, but nevertheless, knowing the basic categories of rug styles before you shop can make this task easier. Contemporary, Traditional, and Transitional rugs all have their hallmarks, but what makes a rug fall into each of these brackets? You may find the following information helpful when you go out and shop for designer rugs for your home. Read our full guide to contemporary rugs.

Traditional rugs

Traditional rugs are often steeped in history, with designs and techniques being passed from generation to generation. Most traditional rugs that are popular nowadays originate from Europe and Asia in the 18th century. That’s why traditional rugs are often synonymous with Oriental or Persian rugs. As such, their patterns are based on centuries-old designs that add time-honoured elegance and luxury to a space.

The colour range for traditional rugs is usually defined by the colour dyes that were accessible at the time. A traditional Persian rug for example will feature rich reds, blues and golds, whereas most tribal styled rugs will contain more earthly colours such as oranges, browns and greens which can be created from vegetable dyes.

Some of the most popular design elements incorporated in traditional rug designs include straight lines, floral patterns, central medallions, and intricate geometric shapes that take the form of diamonds, hexagons, or octagons.

Defining elements: warm colours, definite borders, geometric shapes, intricate details.
berber rug styles in living room
This living room features a Berber Rug, a type of traditional rug originating from Morocco.
Find out more about Berber Rugs at 

Transitional rugs

Transitional rugs are a new expression of traditional patterns. Often considered as a middle ground between traditional and contemporary rug designs, they borrow elements from a range of styles to create a new design that’s not overtly bold or modern. The relationship can be as simple as recoloring or re-scaling a traditional design or as complex as taking traditional motifs and creating a completely new composition. A currently popular look is to erase these designs in places and layer with abstract designs. This diffuses the outlines and creates an almost aged appearance. It also disrupts the symmetry of the design giving an overall less formal appearance.

Transitional rugs please a wide variety of tastes, that’s why they are a popular rug design option. Also they have more versatility than traditional designs as their colours tend to be more in keeping with modern furnishings. They work well in a wide range of settings, both in contemporary and period homes. Browse our Transitional or Mystique Master Weave collections for some beautiful examples.
Defining elements: Repeating patterns, lack of borders, blends updated colours and patterns from traditional rug designs.
transitional rug style blue and grey
Opulence Blue Grey is a beautiful example of a top quality Transitional style rug 

Contemporary rugs

Contemporary rugs are like a piece of modern art-they often contain bold colours, patterns, or even graphics, that can be completely out of the ordinary. By and large, they take on an architectural and modern approach, and can appear free-form in style. They can still feature retro shapes and patterns, but nevertheless, the look and feel of a contemporary rug is worlds apart when compared to the traditional style. Contemporary rugs are the perfect complement to a modern space.

Geometric rug styles are probably the longest standing type of contemporary rug design and are still popular today. Their simplicity allows them to be made in almost any quality, from tufted and machine made constructions to luxury hand knotted qualities, such as those found in the Core Collection by Bazaar Velvet.

However, over the past few years, mainly thanks to improvements in rug design technology, there has been great growth in the production of abstract designs. The most successful of abstract designs will contain countless colours, blended together to create a smooth flowing spectrum. This makes them easy to place in modern spaces, and their colours can be used as inspiration for a whole colour scheme.

Defining elements: bold colour and design, stark contrasts, free-form style elements.
geometric rug
A bespoke version of the popular geometric rug design ‘Genesis’ by Bazaar Velvet

Are modern rugs and contemporary rugs the same thing?

Although they are often used interchangeably, modern rugs and contemporary rugs are actually different from each other. In a design context the term ‘modern’ refers to a certain period in time, particularly the 1920s to 1950s. The style doesn’t change, and is forever defined by that time period. Meanwhile, contemporary means ‘current’ or belonging to the occurring or existing time. As such, contemporary refers to what is popular ‘now,’ and changes with the current trend.

Choosing the right rug styles for your home

Rugs come in many more styles than the three mentioned here. Generally speaking however, many rug designs fall under these broad categories. As a rule of thumb, the key to choosing the right type of rug for your home lies in complimenting the traditional, transitional, or contemporary design of your existing furnishings, or the house itself. You may then choose the right type of rug accordingly.

Owners of homes in London can visit a popular rug shop such as Bazaar Velvet for their contemporary rug needs. These popular rug shops are known for their wide inventory, with plenty of options in different sizes and colour combinations, so finding the best fit for your home won’t be a problem.

Read our Definitive Guide to Rug Design and Colour to help you find your perfect rug, or contact us now.



  • What You Need to Know to Understand Traditional vs Transitional Interior Design,
  • Modern vs Contemporary Style,
  • What You Need to Know to Understand Traditional vs Transitional Interior Design,

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