Rugs and runners: an easy way to enhance your home

For many of us, it's the rug that maketh the room... a beautiful rug adds colour, texture and softness underfoot. We've compiled a variety of designs across the price ranges that will put a spring in our step as we tread through 2024

By Abby Trow
Indigo Ochre wool flatweave gelim by Ptolemy Mann

Rugs, rugs, glorious rugs. They're items of beauty and remember a good wool rug will last for decades (provided you keep the moths at bay...) so they are worth saving up for. That said you can pick up great second-hand rugs at auctions and on Ebay, so if you're down on the money but want a lovely rug, certainly keep a daily eye on the latter. For new rugs, Habitat, West Elm, Heal's, Conran Shop all do good pieces, and Spain has a lot of modern rug design brands which you can find in the UK - for example nanimarquina and Gandía Blasco. Also check out Nordic Knots - good range of designs at reasonably do-able prices.Super high end names include Christine van der Hurd, Front Rugs, Rug'Society and Jennifer Manners. Pictured above: Textile artist Ptolemy Mann also designs rugs - her wool gelims are woven in India and are stunning. Designs include the Indigo Ochre flatweave 240x300cm £1,795

*click on images to see in large format with captions

As with pictures, a room without a rug feels rather..bare, unfinished, lacking in colour and personality. Rugs are a key piece when it comes to decorating and the good news is, of course, that there are lovely rugs made from sustainable fibres (it's not just wool, think about jute, linen, silk, banana fibre, hemp, recycled yarn from clothing and fibre made from recycled plastic bottles..) at every price point.

At the high end (expect to pay thousands), well there's no shortage of inspiring designs from talents including Jennifer Manners, Christine van der HurdDeirdre Dyson, and Tania Johnson, all of whom are London-based. They offer contemporary hand-knotted rugs in soft, subtle colourways. Johnson's exquisite, often ethereal designs start with an image from the world around her and collections are grouped into themes such as Nature, Places, Glass and Water. Rugs are Goodweave-certified and are made predominantly from wool and silk. Pieces are hand-knotted and made to order in NepalChristine Van Der Hurd is the doyenne of bespoke carpet design. Her colour sense is extraordinary and her rugs (wool and silk are the main fibres) are hand-knotted in Nepal and India. Van Der Hurd is a frequent visitor to her artisans' workshops and workers enjoy good pay and high welfare standards. 

For super colourful, high impact designer wool rugs at considerably less stratospheric prices check out Sonya Winner, who has a small showroom in north London. As well as jewel bright colours, Winner's hand-tufted rugs come in more unusual shapes and textures. We also love the rug designs of Lindsey Lang, who's possibly best known for her modern encaustic tiles. Her wool rugs are well priced, from £395.


Flows rug in 100 per cent wool by Denmark's Linie Designs at Heal's.
Flows rug in 100 per cent wool from Denmark's Linie Designs at Heal's
Hand tufted wool rugs from Sonya Winner
Square flatweave wool rug in Tobacco by Nordic Knots. 170x240cms £495
Wool Fibonacci rug by Lindsay Lang,180x120cm £395
Fibonacci rug in wool by Lindsey Lang
Beni Ouarain wool rugs from Morocco are hugely popular. Prices from £2500
Zurich rug by Tania Johnson, hand-knotted in Nepal in Tibetan wool/silk. Goodweave cert.

Vintage rugs

Vintage and antique Persian and Chinese rugs are widely available at auctions, but if you like vintage rugs that have a more contemporary, less patterned look, then you may like the Moroccan Beni Ouarain wool rugs from the early 20th century - they date back to the 1920s.

Beldi Rugs- run by Emma Wilson in Morocco and Tamsin Flower in London - specialises in the now highly sought-after vintage Beni Ouarain carpets, which are made from the thick wool of sheep that graze in the Atlas Mountains. They have also started producing new Beni Ouarain carpets, available in custom sizes and designs and made by Moroccan craftspeople using traditional techniques. 

The fun of design-your-own

If you ever come across a rug and think if only it came in red and blue not green and yellow and could be oval not square, then Rug Couture is for you. It's a wonderful online emporium that allows you to design your own rug, so you can choose the colour, shape, size and fibre of your rug. Choose from Rug Couture's extensive range of designs or you can design your own rug and they will have it made for you. Rug Couture products carry the Kaleen label, an Indian government scheme to show no child labour was involved in manufacture.

Peace Industry specialises in modern wool felt rugs
nanimarquina is a top Spanish brand
Vaserely NZ wool rug, 200 cm dia, loop and high tufted pile,
Striped flatweave by Mathias Moellenbach at Insidestore. 200x3000cm rug in sale at  £594.15
Rani rug from West Elm has a distressed look. Recycled cotton backing


Flatweave wool rugs are very beautiful and a key advantage is they are considerably less expensive that hand-knotted/hand-tufted wool carpets. Ptolemy Mann is a designer whose flatweaves have won many fans because of her skill with colour and designing modern rugs inspired by ikat pattern and the traditional gelims of northern Iran. Her flatweaves are woven in India. Insidestore in London also has a good range of flat weaves, including designs by Matias Moellenbach.

Those top designers mentioned earlier also include flatweaves in their ranges, including Jennifer Manners and Christine van der Hurd. For mid-priced subtle contemporary style flatweaves, check out Nordic Knots 

Spring wool felt rugs

Wool felt rugs can offer a springiness not felt in tufted wool rugs. Peace Industry, a small company that has relocated from San Francisco to Stockholm, makes thick felt wool rugs in muted colours and minimalist designs. They use vegetable dyes and unbleached wool and their rugs are not treated with FR chemicals. Peace Industry rugs are reversible and should be turned and flipped regularly.  For vibrant felt wool shyrdak rugs from Kyrgyzstan, visit Felt Rugs

Modern design from Britain, Spain and Scandinavia

Some of our top textile designers have expanded into wool rugs, such as Margo Selby and Glasgow-based Niki Jones; the former is known for her bright colours, textures and patterns, the latter for her masterful geometric designs. 

Roger Oates is known for his flatweave wool runners, but he also has a good selection of felted wool rugs. For plain coloured wool/tencel rugs, take a look at Jacaranda

Habitat and West Elm are high street names with good wool rugs, often at very affordable prices. 

Bluebellgray Ines wool rug, made to order in Holland by Brink & Campman
Scion's Kaleido Pop wool rug with cotton backing
Granada rug in wool by Glasgow-based Niki Jones. 120x180 rug £1,404
Denmark's Linie Designs make contemporary Scandinavian style rugs
if you want a plain colour rug, Denmark's Hay's No 2 rug in pure wool is simple and pleasing

If you want colourful painterly floral wool rugs, see Glasgow based bluebellgray. Its rugs are designed by artist and founder Fi Douglas and they're made to order by Dutch company Brink & Campman. Spain's nanimarquina also has a beautiful new range called Floral, the result of a collaboration with atist Santi Moix.  Spain has several leading rug brands, including Gandía Blasco and Now Carpets.

Scandinavian design is much loved and rug brands to look at include Linie Designs, Nordic KnotsKasthall, and Hay.  Find Linie at Heal's, while Hay rugs can be found at Insidestore in north London.

Many rug companies have their carpets woven or hand-knotted in India and Nepal. Far fewer children work in the carpet industry now, thanks for organisations such as Goodweave, but always check that the brand you buy does everything possible to ensure children do not work on its products.