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Sisal and jute rugs are like the white T-shirts of the design world. Thanks to their neutral color palette and natural fibers, they layer quite well with almost any décor. “Throw them over large rugs or under smaller ones to add depth, warmth, and texture,” says designer Leanne Ford. “Mix them with antiques and neutral colors or with jewel tones and lots of pattern,” says designer Lauren Ashley Allan. Whichever direction you go, “they’re an easy way to add an imperfect touch to a room,” adds Decorilla lead designer Devin Shaffer.
Another standout feature: “They’re budget friendly compared to most other styles of rugs,” says Ford. Many picks on this list are under $600 for an eight-by-ten-foot rug, and you don’t necessarily need to pay more than that to get something great looking. In terms of where to place them, “They can be mixed and moved between main rooms or secondary rooms such as bedrooms,” says Allan. “There is a lot of flexibility with these rugs, which can either be dressed up or dressed down.” To help you choose the right natural-fiber rug for your home, I’ve laid out the differences between sisal, jute, and abaca rugs, and I asked Shaffer, Ford, Allan, and 17 other décor experts and interior designers about their favorites. Read on for the picks and advice on how best to incorporate the rugs into your décor scheme. A note: All prices start at the smallest size offered, typically two by two feet or two by three feet.
As far as choosing between area rugs made from sisal, jute, and other natural fibers such as abaca, the experts we spoke with say to consider the space you’ll use them in — for aesthetics, of course, but also because certain fibers may be better in certain locations. “Generally speaking, sisal rugs,” which are made from the fibers of the agave plant, “are a bit more durable than jute rugs, so they’re good for high-traffic areas of the home,” according to prop stylist Cat Dash. Allan agrees, and because she says sisal rugs are the most durable of the group and have a tighter weave than the others, she likes to use them on the stairs as a runner. Seagrass is another similarly hardy option that is known to be nonporous and somewhat stain-resistant.
Rugs made from jute (which comes from the stem of the jute plant) or abaca fibers (which come from the abaca plant), on the other hand, are usually softer to the touch, making them “more comfortable for bare feet, so there’s a trade off,” Dash says. Interior designer Allison Tick, meanwhile, says she loves how “thick and smooth” jute can be. Because jute rugs have a softer feel, they’re a bit more pliable than sisal but less durable and harder to clean. That’s why the experts I spoke to say that jute rugs work better in lower-traffic spaces such as bedrooms as opposed to hallways and living areas. Allan’s preference is for rugs made out of jute because of its overall lighter color, texture, and sheen, but she recommends always requesting samples to make sure your choice isn’t too scratchy.
If you’re looking for a “chunkier, more textural surface,” Allan recommends abaca, which is a thicker fiber with a bit of sheen. Similarly to jute rugs, they feel soft underfoot and are not as durable as sisal, working better in medium- to low-traffic areas of the home. If you like the look of these rugs but are nervous about their feel (even after trying a sample), consider one that’s blended with a softer material such as cotton or wool, which would take the edge off a bit.
The rugs come in a variety of styles and color options no matter the fiber you choose. You can certainly go for a plain-woven or hand-braided rug, but some come with fringe while others come with patterns like checkers or a more traditional motif. And as mentioned above, sisal will generally have a more tightly woven look, while jute and abaca will be a little chunkier. The way the edges are finished matter, too. A serged edge, where yarn wraps around the border of the rug, has a more polished look, says Denver-based interior designer Jess Knauf, while a natural edge, or fringe, can be “pretty in more rustic design.” Knauf personally avoids binding on the edge (sewing a strip of binding tape, usually cotton canvas, to the border), as it “tends to show more dirt and stain more easily, especially in high-traffic areas.”
Another benefit of natural-fiber rugs is their customizability. Because of the plain weave of many of these rugs, they come in various preset sizes, but some allow for even further customization by letting you choose specifications including dimensions and trim.
Material: Sisal, tightly woven | Style: Solid, Five colors
While rugs made of sisal, jute, and other natural fibers can look very similar, sisal rugs are made with a harder weave and are thus more durable than other natural-fiber rugs, Dash explains, making them great for places like hallways and living areas. This sisal rug from Crate & Barrel comes recommended by two of our experts. Interior designer Tara Smith likes that its more textured boucle weave “elevates this rug a step above your standard sisal.” Available in several neutral shades, she adds that it’s durable “yet sophisticated enough to go in any high-traffic area of your home.” Shea particularly likes it for layering, saying it’s “a great rug to have as a foundation in a living or family room, and can be layered with a kilim or vintage Turkish rug to injecting a little color into a space.” There are different sizes available — starting at two by three feet for $70 all the way up to 9 by 12 feet for $799.
Material: Sisal, tightly woven | Style: Solid, three colors | Customizable: By size and shape
If you’re looking for something customizable, Smith recommends this one with a basket weave from West Elm, which you can order in just about any size to suit your space. She particularly likes that the “chunky weave and natural fiber adds the perfect amount of organic texture to a space.” It’s available in a classic warm tone or more modern-looking Chrome and Muslin colors and can be customized by size and shape (rug, runner, or round), starting at $40 for the smallest size of four square feet.
Material: Sisal, tightly woven | Style: Solid, eight colors | Customizable: By size
Three of our experts suggested turning to Pottery Barn for sisal rugs — including design historian Alessandra Wood, interior designer Becky Shea, and Jessie Schuster of Jessica Schuster Design, who likes this particular customizable one. While it’s similarly priced to the West Elm rug above (without a round option), it comes in a few more colors including deeper shades like mocha, bronze, and gunmetal. Schuester calls it a great option “if you’re on a budget. They are a nice quality, and you can customize the size within a short lead time.”
Material: Sisal, patterned | Style: Solid, two colors | Customizable: 14 sizes
Denver-based interior designer Jess Knauf prefers sisal over jute and abaca because of its durability and stain resistance, noting that Ballard Designs makes some of her favorite “nicely finished” options. She recently installed the brand’s Dori model, which has an unexpected jacquard weave in a fishtail pattern (and is actually blended with a little bit of jute), in her own living room. “I like that it has a serger-finished edge, which has a more polished look,” she says. “I went with the natural, which sort of lets all the other fabrics in the room stand out. It has held up beautifully.” While she admits Ballard’s rugs have a higher price point, she says that “the quality and finish are worth it.” She also appreciates that the rug has a nonskid rubber backing to keep it in place, which means she doesn’t need to use a pad.
Material: Seagrass | Style: Paneled, solid | Customizable: Six sizes, with extra paneling you can sew together
This seagrass rug from Rush House suddenly seems to be everywhere. It’s featured in a few Architectural Digest house tours, in the homes of stylish people like Daphne Javitch and Julie O’Rourke, and in the Hudson Valley restaurant Stissing House. The reason for its popularity is its versatility and affordability. It looks just as convincing in a country-style home in the South as it does in a mid-century-modern pad in Los Angeles. Financial-services professional Sunny Kang first saw it in a magazine and tracked it down because she “loved the price point, especially for such a big rug.” She also appreciates the fact that it can be customizable to fit any space. She bought two for her dining room and sewed them together herself. Maintaining is just as easy, too: “We’ve dropped plenty of food on it, and you wouldn’t notice at all,” she says. All she does is vacuum it. For added comfort and longevity, Rush House recommends using the rug with this rug pad, which you can also buy on the store’s website.
Material: Jute | Style: Chunky, solid | Customizable: Three sizes
This all-jute rug from Ikea came recommended by two of our experts — Tammy Price of the Los Angeles–based Fragments Identity and Dash — for its affordability. It’s Dash’s go-to because “it’s super-versatile and works all over the house,” she says. “I generally use this one as a layering piece and put a smaller rug with an interesting pattern over it. I actually have it in my living room with a vintage Persian rug layered on top.” The rug is available in three sizes; the smaller one is four feet four inches by six feet five inches and goes for $70.
Material: Jute | Style: chunky, solid, tasseled, nine colors | Customizable: Multiple shapes and sizes
Interior designer Jamie Drake of the Manhattan-based firm Drake/Anderson told us he prefers the minimalism of “the most natural and basic jute rugs,” suggesting this chunky, fringed style as another affordable option. New York Magazine deputy editor Alexis Swerdloff is a fan after buying the rug for her own home. It looks more expensive than it is thanks to its handwoven design and the varied tones of the undyed natural fibers. This style starts at $39 for a rug that’s two by three feet.
Material: Jute | Style: Chunky, four colors | Customizable: By size, shape, rug color, border color, material, and width
Interior designer Elaine Griffin’s go-to source for natural-fiber rugs is Sisal Rugs Direct, which she likes “for the variety and customization options” and the fact that the rugs are “totally reasonably priced.” I turned to Sisal Rugs Direct myself when I needed a very specific size for a landing on my staircase. I was able to input my desired size — down to the inch — and pick my rug color (from four options), shape, and border material, color, and width. It cost less than another competitor I looked at, and it arrived in exactly four weeks.
Material: Jute | Style: Chunky, border pattern, tasseled, 3 colors
Three of our experts — Schuster, Dash, and Seyie Putsure of the Los Angeles–based Seyie Design — recommend Serena & Lily as a place to find jute rugs along with others made of natural fibers. For something with a little more personality, Dash recommends this rug with an inner border that she says “feels almost preppy” but is counterbalanced by its natural weave, which “keeps it from veering towards stuffy.” She adds that it would lend a “pulled-together yet unfussy vibe” to any room. This style starts at $88 for a two-by-three-foot rug.
Material: Jute | Style: Chunky, patterned
Architect and interior designer Maria Augusta Louro of the New York– and Brazil-based firm Guta Louro says she likes to incorporate natural-fiber rugs in her projects because of their durability. She’s a fan of such rugs for their “earthy tones and rustic characteristics,” telling us this jute rug ups the aesthetic ante because its interwoven trellis design makes it look like pricer wool and silk rugs. The smallest size is two by three feet and goes for $112.
Material: Jute | Style: Chunky, solid, spiral pattern
Interior designer Christiane Lemieux, who has her own line of home furnishings (including graphic rugs), turns to this more basic — but still interesting — piece from Lulu & Georgia as a solid option for her clients. The handmade rug designed by Jake Arnold is her go-to. “I love how this rug is basic luxe,” she says. “It’s almost solid but has a subtle woven geometric pattern in it that adds an extra layer of design.” And she says that it has “a lovely heft that makes it feel excellent underfoot.” Lemieux calls out its “neutral, natural color and material” that she says looks “great for California casual or coastal-design moments,” adding that natural rugs “provide warmth, texture, and natural elements to every space.”
Material: Jute-wool blend | Style: Chunky, checkerboard, tasseled
If pure jute feels a little too scratchy, consider a rug that’s blended with a softer material like wool. This is a favorite of Allan’s, who says it feels more plush underfoot, because it’s handwoven and 50 percent wool. “This rug is a beautiful take on a tonal checkerboard pattern,” she says. “It’s warm, edited, and beautifully imperfect.” Allan suggests putting the chunky rug in a family or living room, hearth, or even dining room if you want to add “a subtle textural backdrop” to the space.
Material: Jute-wool blend | Style: Flat-weave, patterned
Here’s another jute-wool rug that’s flat-woven, making it a good option for a high-traffic space thanks to its higher ratio of jute to wool (77 percent jute and 23 percent wool). Strategist writer Emma Wartzman bought it in the white pattern for an open area by her front door between the living room and kitchen entryway, and over a year later, she says it still looks great. “I wanted something to mark the space but also wanted it to be hardy enough to withstand inevitable foot traffic and shoes,” she says. “I vacuum it once a week and I’m honestly surprised the white parts aren’t dirty, which I was nervous about at first.” Wartzman says that it’s “quite soft and looks substantial — the weave isn’t dinky.”
Material: Jute-cotton | Style: Chunky, patterned, tasseled
Justina Blakeney, the owner of Jungalow (a favorite Black-owned décor business), designed this rug in collaboration with Loloi, a rug company that interior designer Leah Alexander loves for its “variety, dependability, and for featuring collections from a diverse group of makers.” It’s made of a cotton-jute blend and has a raised trellis design on a dusty green backing, allowing a subtle layer of color to peek through. “The jute rugs by Justina Blakeney are gorgeous, understated, and hardworking,” Alexander adds. The smallest size is five feet by seven feet six inches and goes for $599.
Material: Abaca | Style: Chunky, solid
Echoing the sentiments of our other experts, designer Aerin Lauder says she turns to natural-fiber rugs to “instantly provide a neutral look that is practical and elevated.” Her favorite is this abaca rug from Williams Sonoma (for which she designed the Aerin Collection, but this rug is not from that line). “I think that the tones and texture are perfect in any space,” Lauder says. “The rug provides a natural yet comfortable and effortless feel.” Sizes start at three by ten feet, which goes for $895.
As versatile and durable jute, sisal, and abaca rugs are, they’re very difficult to clean, as water and other liquids can ruin them. If you like the look of these types of rugs but want something easier to maintain, consider this washable rug from Ruggable’s “Re-Jute” collection that features floor coverings woven from recycled and virgin polyester and plastic water bottles. Production designer Anastasia White owns this runner with an Italian-inspired palazzo pattern and uses it in her kitchen. She loves the “super flat weave” that feels like the real jute rug in her dining room, only smoother, which makes it “so easy to wipe” while toning down “the stark whiteness of the kitchen.”
• Leah Alexander, interior designer
• Lauren Ashley Allan, interior designer
• Cat Dash, prop stylist
• Jamie Drake, Drake/Anderson
• Leanne Ford, interior designer
• Elaine Griffin, interior designer
• Jess Knauf, interior designer
• Aerin Lauder, designer
• Christiane Lemieux, founder of Lemieux et Cie
• Maria Augusta Louro, architect and interior designer
• Tammy Price, Fragments Identity
• Seyie Putsure, Seyie Design
• Jessie Schuster, principal of Jessica Schuster Design
• Devin Shaffer, lead sales designer Decorilla
• Becky Shea, interior designer
• Tara Smith, interior designer
• Allison Tick, interior designer
• Emma Wartzman, Strategist writer
• Anastasia White, production designer
• Alessandra Wood, design historian
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