A Guide to Shabby Chic Area Rugs

Vintage Cassie Fringe Rug from Troy by NuLoom

A shabby chic rug isn’t really shabby, but it is chic. The shabby moniker comes from the well-traveled appearance of many of the genre’s patterns. Muted colors, old-school designs, and soft materials make up a good portion of these lived-in look rugs. You’ll also find many geometric and traditional designs under the shabby chic umbrella.

Muted colors are the basis for shabby chic. Military blues and grays almost blend into one another, giving a lazy, shopworn façade straight out of an early 1900s’ farmhouse. Other designs are retro, but not as muted. An earth-hued stencil design of leaves and flowers and an off-white base with slightly blurred pastels are other examples of shabby chic.

The shabby chic design makes the rug look like it has been a comfortable, cozy part of your home for years. These homespun-style rugs accentuate your cozy cottage or bohemian décor. Position them on the floor in your kitchen near rustic painted cabinets or yellow, olive or light blue cabinets ala the 1950s trend.

What is a Shabby Chic Rug?

UTP10 from Utopia by Nourison

These rugs are sometimes called cottage or farmhouse rugs for their homey, washed-out colors. They are crafted to look well-worn and have neutral, pale or faded colors. You might find light blues, mint greens or pink in some rugs but there are no showy patterns or neon in these designs. Shabby chic area rugs remind you of vintage rugs you’d find in second-hand stores in a rural area or far-flung suburb. Even if the rugs are brand new, they look worn, like the area rug version of pre-washed jeans from a clothing designer.

Shabby chic isn’t the same as boho chic – boho chic has more of a mid-century beatnik and hippie attitude. Shabby chic simply has a warm lived-in, appearance that you’d find in a rural home or hideaway in the early 20th Century, or even in the present day. Some designs provide a bit of color woven into the rugs. The most popular colors are blue, gray, white or beige. While you don’t see black or bright colors in farmhouse rugs, you might see multi-color options, including white, beige and pale pink roses with a strip of black background on either side. (Or red roses on a black background.) This type of design is apt if your kitchen has stained cabinets, and the “old-timey” look will fit in any room with rolltop desks or other vintage furniture.

Although farmhouse or shabby chic rugs are available in a wide array of materials, invest in wool rugs when you can. Farmhouse rugs made from synthetic fibers may save you some money, but won’t last as long or have the same comfy texture on bare feet. Wool, silk, jute hemp and bamboo offer the most durability. Texture is import and makes the atmosphere cozier for visitors and family. It keeps white or neutral rooms from looking monotonous and facilitates the flow between rooms.

Decorating with Shabby Chic Rugs

Vintage Sarita from Vivid Silk by NuLoom

If you’re on a budget, shabby chic polypropylene area rugs are available in a plethora of vintage designs with both neutral and light, muted colors. If you keep them out of direct sunlight and minimize foot traffic, you’ll improve their lifespan. Some attractive polypropylene designs include a rustic floral pattern with an ivory background (a cozy addition to your kitchen) or a cream and burnt orange polyester/polypropylene blend you can use on a hardwood living room floor.

In your kitchen, place a blue and grey distressed rug near a galvanized side table. Find a galvanized barrel or repurpose an old one. Do you want to make a girl’s bedroom feminine without getting too frilly? Use white or floral shabby chic rugs on the floor, curved, gold-edge mirrors on the wall.

Faded Vintage Rugs

OPA08 from Opaline by Nourison

Use a shabby chic rug with a visually appealing pattern in pastel or light colors to add a pop of color to a shabby chic room. A mixture of pinks, light blues, greens or yellows will amp up the color scheme just enough without being obvious.

A hand-knotted 100% distressed wool rug made in India looks like someone took a paint roller and used it on two random corners.

Country Kitchen Patterns

EZC731A from DuraRug by Safavieh

The patterns are similar to what you’d find in a 1930s, ‘40s or ‘50s kitchen. Earth or neutral toned rugs with floral patterns, line drawings of animals or kitchen implements, like teapots, are sometimes found in rustic, vintage-themed kitchens with, or instead of, muted floral-themed rugs.

Neutral Chic

DSK04 from KI Desert Skies by Kathy Ireland

If you have a room with an all-white or white and pastel theme, look for a honeycomb pattern or one with stripes, dots or geometric shapes in off-white or ivory. Neutral-color rugs with knots and tassels surrounding the borders add an old-fashioned, feminine feeling. An off-beige rug with a pattern of grey diamonds and circles with a similar pattern on the rug border is tasteful, classic shabby chic. Place this area rug in a living room or master bedroom with white or neutral-hued furniture.

What to Pair with Shabby Chic Rugs

Vintage Cassie Fringe Rug from Troy by NuLoom

Any type of furniture will work with shabby chic rugs – metal, wood, and iron are compatible and rustic choices. Stay away from cheap-looking plastic or woodgrain. Imitate an era when all-natural, artisan or homemade rugs were used exclusively.

Vintage wallpaper can give any room a shabby chic appeal, and there are many replicas of early 20th Century wallpaper. Add a rustic curio cabinet to your dining room with a washed-out, striped rug, or a white painted writing desk to a bedroom with a fringed beige farmhouse area rug nearby to complete the look.

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