Choosing Custom Rugs That Are Right for You

Why use custom rugs?

So you’ve selected the upholstery fabric of your dreams, the draperies look fantastic, the walls are exactly the right color, but your rooms still look incomplete. What’s the easiest way to pull your rooms together? With custom rugs.

Sure, you could run all over looking for the perfect color to co-ordinate with your sofa or walls, but what are the odds of finding exactly what you need? And what if the space calls for a rug that isn’t a perfect 6’ x 9’? Or you need a shape that will accommodate the heating vent on the floor? At this point, you should start considering custom rugs.

Custom Rugs–The Design Process

When I design custom rugs, I start by asking a lot of questions. I want to know about the colors that you like—and the ones that you dislike! I take a look at pictures of the furniture, samples of the paint color and fabrics, and the layout of the room. Then I’ll make some suggestions based on this information. I’ll do a few preliminary sketches—80 % of my custom rugs are one-of-a-kind designs–and pull together some colors.

Things to Consider in Planning for Custom Rugs

I’ll ask about the location of the room and the amount of traffic that it gets. For example, if you live in an upper-floor apartment, then people have already walked through the lobby and down the hallway before arriving in your home. Therefore, their shoes are probably pretty clean. If your home has a small vestibule, and people arrive at your living room almost before you know it, then dirty shoes are a real factor. The function of the room—if it’s for sleeping or TV viewing–also helps me decide the custom rug’s construction type and fiber content.

Refining the Design of Custom Rugs

At the next meeting, I refine the design, making changes so that all of us are pleased. If possible, this meeting will take place in your home so that I can see what the colors look like in the actual light of the room. If you don’t live in the NYC area, I can send the color poms to you. Once I have this info, I order a “strikeoff,” a small sample that shows the colors that will be used to make the rug.

Fine Tuning Custom Rugs

In two to three weeks, the strikeoff arrives, and I’m ready to do the fine tuning: I may change a color or modify the design. If necessary, I order another strikeoff; if everything is fine, then I order the rug, which usually arrives in eight to twelve weeks, depending upon its size and complexity.

How Hand-tufted Custom Rugs Are Made

When making hand-tufted custom rugs, an artist draws the pattern in mirror image on a piece of fine monk’s cloth (linen) stretched on a frame. Each stitch is added individually according to color. When the tufting is complete, the back of the rug is coated with natural latex and jute to hold the stitches in place, and the monk’s cloth edges are folded under a piece of cotton canvas. Notice that everything used to make hand-tufted custom rugs is natural and biodegradable.

Making Hand-tufted Custom Rugs

When the latex has dried, custom rugs are sheared and carved by hand, and the edges are trimmed using a big pair of scissors. So each rug is made completely by hand, and all of the fibers are natural.

Why Choose Hand-tufted Custom Rugs?

A tufted rug is perfect when you want a bold, graphic pattern or more intense color. The thick pile of this type of rug, about ½”, lends itself to carving. And the soft, chemically untreated surface of the rug makes this a great choice for families with young children. Plus, hand-tufted custom rugs can be steam cleaned at home!

Hand-knotted Custom Rugs

More elegant custom rugs are hand-knotted. This is the technique that is used to make fine Oriental carpets. Each piece of yarn is tied around a long piece of fiber; the greater the number of knots, the finer and thinner the rug. My rugs range from 20-300 knots per square inch. When all of the knots have been added, the edges of the rug are sewn by hand, and the surface is hand-sheared.

When designing knotted rugs, I use a wide variety of fibers: New Zealand and Merino wool, silk, hemp, linen—even pashmina. Often I will use two different fibers in the same rug to vary the visual texture of a piece. The vegetable-based dyes used to color the fibers lend a muted, antique look to these custom rugs. In some cases, I use undyed yarn to create rugs that are especially eco-sensitive.

Your Own Custom Rugs

Owning an original work of art—a rug designed exclusively for you– gives years of pleasure because well-made, properly cared for custom rugs will last a lifetime. If you haven’t yet designed your room, think about starting with the rug, as this is the piece that you will have for the longest time. And if you’re puzzled about how to finish off your existing space, call a rug designer! To see more of our custom rugs, please visit

Cleaning Hand-tufted Custom Rugs

For maximum cleanability, I recommend a hand-tufted rug made of New Zealand wool. This wool is exceptionally strong because the fibers are very long. New Zealand wool has amazing tensile strength, meaning that it’s hard to break the fibers. If you have ever owned a rug that sheds and sheds and sheds forever, then you’ve purchased a rug made out of cheap wool. You can learn why New Zealand wool is so perfect for custom rugs at the following websites:

Never Use a Vacuum with a Beater Brush on Custom Rugs

Beater-brush vacuums or bagless cyclonic machines are much too rough to be used on custom rugs; I recommend Miele vacuum cleaners because they have a special setting for hand-made rugs ( ). Vacuum your new rug once or twice a week. At first, short, small fibers will come out of the rug; these are the tiny pieces left over from shearing the carpet. After a month or so, these fibers will no longer come up to the surface.

Routine Maintenance of Custom Rugs

If something wet spills on your wool rug, blot it up with a white cloth, and then use spray Resolve carpet cleaner ( ). For dry spots, I use powdered Resolve. Always remember to brush the rug softly when using the powder; never rub or scrub. Never use an oxy cleaner on custom rugs made from a natural fiber; it will remove the color from the rug! Periodically, you can steam clean your hand-tufted at home; I use a Bissell rug shampooer ( ), or you can have your rug professionally cleaned as needed. Do not have your rug cleaned every year. Never steam clean a hand-knotted rug; these must be professionally cleaned.

Should I Use a Chemical Treatment on Custom Rugs?

Wool rugs are inherently easy to clean, so I do not recommend any sort of chemical coating for my custom rugs. I don’t like the idea of children sitting on a layer of unneeded chemicals. So please don’t let yourself be pressured into having one of these chemical treatments applied to your custom rugs!