Chinese Rugs – Decorative Considerations

Oriental rugs generally represent extremely good value for money. The decision to buy a Chinese rug, as opposed to a Persian or Turkish one, for example, should be based on a combination of an affinity with the general character of Chinese rug, and whether or not they represent value for money in comparison with other rugs on the market at the time.

However, one advantage that Chinese rugs have over rugs from other countries is their level of standardization and quality control; a prospective buyer can be certain that one 90-line Standard Chinese rug will, with very minor variations, be just as good as the text.

Decorative consideration

Most people buy contemporary Chinese rugs primarily to enhance the decorative impact of their homes, though any possible investment potential and long-term collectability may be seen as added bonuses. Consequently, the prime considerations – in addition to quality – are colour, design and size.



Contemporary Chinese rugs are made in almost every conceivable combination of colours, shades and tones. To create a harmonious effect, try to reflect the overall tonality of the room (pastel, rich, sombre etc.), or ensure that at least one colour from the room is present in the rug. It need not be the dominant colour of either the rug of the room. Better results are often obtained by matching subsidiary colours, or a dominant colour with a subsidiary one. For example, a predominantly blue rug with cream elements can blend perfectly in a cream room with no blues.


To create a contrasting effect, enliven the room by providing a vital counterpoint to the existing colours, taking care to ensure that the colours do not clash or cancel each other out. Contrasts often work best when the room is relatively neutral, with white or pale walls allowing the strenght of the rug to give the room its overall colour focus.

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Pastel shades are extremely versatile and can complement most Western decorative schemes, but care has to be taken with their placement, because they will show scuff marks and dirt more easily than deeper shades.

Rich shades are generally more suited to classic dark-stained wooden furnishings, but can also work with lighter furnishings, providing care is taken not to “overpower” the rest of the room. Small rugs are rarely a problem, but large, room-sized carpets may prove too tonally intense.

Strong, dark or sombre shades are not common in contemporary Chinese rugs. However, some are found in many authentic Tibetan rugs.



Design is generally less critical than colours, because almost any pattern can work if the rug’s colours are compatible with the decor.

Minimalist design are common in the ranges of contemporary Chinese rugs that favour simple central and/or corner motifs set against a monochrome field. In some Nepalese-Tibetal rugs, in particular, the motifs are confined to the border of an otherwise totally monochrome, or variegated, field. These designs are especially suited to modern Scandinavian and Bauhaus-style furniture, and pastel or neutrally decorated rooms.

Curvilinear designs form the bulk of Chinese rugs in Persian and other, more traditionally Chinese, intricate designs. They often find their best expression in opulent or classicaly furnished surroundings, but can also add a degree of grandeur to a more simple decor.

Geometric designs are oftenat their best in rustic, Scandinavian and Bauhaus-inspired surroundings, but can also succeed in more classically furnished rooms, providing the colour schemes are compatible.

Repeating designs employ a single motif, or group of motifs, throughout the rug. The advantage of these schemes is that the pattern can be viewed from any angle, which gives considerable scope in the placement of the rug – an important consideration in locating runners and room-sized carpets.

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Centralized designs employ a single central motif, or group of motifs, and are the most frequently encountered designs in Chinese rugs. Ideally, these rugs should be placed in a central position, with the furniture evenly distributed around them so as not to disturb the symmetry of the design.

Vertical and horizontal designs, in which the design runs one way along the rug, can only be viewed properly from one direction; the most common examples in Chinese rugs are scenic or pictorial designs.


Selecting the correct size of rug is not as simple as making sure that is fits into the available space. Rugs need room to breathe, and the stronger the design and colour scheme, the more space is needed to avoid them being cramped by the surrounding furnishings or overpowering everything else in the room. Similar care should be taken with runners, or rugs needed to fill a specific space. Remember that doors may need to be opened across the rug, and that the length of the fringes is not usually included in the measurements.


Location and purpose

It is important to remember that certain types and styles of rug are more suited to some locations than others. A pastel-coloured, soft-pile rug may be ideal for a bedroom or little-used lounge, but unsuitable for rooms with heavy traffic or exposure to children. Durability is especially important in the case of runners and small rugs located near doors.

Remember, too, that silk items, although very durable, show scuff marks and creases more easily than woollen rugs, and can melt when exposed to flames or intense direct heat.

Silk Rug Cleaning read here.

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