23 Styles of Designer Rugs: Part 5 – Kilim Rugs to Moroccan Rugs

In 23 Styles of Designer Rugs, Part 5 we learn why Kilim rugs and Moroccan rugs are so popular with interior designers. We derive decorating inspiration from nine stunning interiors and gain tips on where to use these rugs, the most desirable colors and patterns and buying tips.  

What You Need to Know About Kilim Rugs

Kilim rugs are extremely flexible and will go with almost any style of furniture as these four interiors demonstrate. 

Interiors with Kilim Rugs



 A pale gray Kilim rug with stepped diamond geometric pattern is a great complement for modern and traditional furniture and Chinoiserie wall covering in a de Gournay designed bedroom. 



A custom Kilim rug with a stried blue field and brown tooth border provides a perfect anchor for museum quality paintings, antique Italian, French and English furniture upholstered in red and gold in a office and library in Tuscany designed by Mlinaric, Henry and Zervudachi.



 A Kilim rug with natural stripes in brown, cream and pale gray adds beauty and texture to the screened porch in Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s Beverly Hills home designed by architects Buff & Hensman and decorator Melinda Ritz. The natural colored wool Kilim is a perfect complement for the 19th-century trestle table and wicker armchairs. 



 A mid-century Persian Kilim rugcomplements a 1970s Milo Baughman cabinet and games table, and 1960’s T-Chairs by Katavolos, Kelly, Littell for Laverne International in a sitting area of a Sagaponack, New York house by Christoff: Finio Architecture.


History of Kilim rugs: Kilims are flat woven rugs handmade all the way from Eastern Europe to South Asia. A Kilim fragment dating back to the fourth or fifth century CE was discovered by archeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein during his expeditions on the Silk Road in Hotan, China.

Kilim rugs are made by interweaving weft yarns and warp threads to create a rug with a flat surface and no pile. The weft strands are usually wool and are visible on the surface of the rug and the warps are made of strong cotton threads which cannot be seen as they are completely covered by the wool weft threads. The warp threads emerge at the edges of the rug where they become fringes.

There are many types of Kilim weaves. The diagrams show just three of these.     



Where to use Kilim rugs: As the four room pictures illustrate, Kilim rugs with many different decorating styles. They are perfect complements for French, English and Italian antique furniture as well as mid-century modern and contemporary styles. 


Desirable Colors and Designs: Avoid Kilim rugs that are made with poor quality wool and cheap dyes. Stay away from patterns that have been mass marketed. Stay with better quality Kilim rugs and you will enjoy them for a long time. Kilim rugs come in a wide range of colors ranging from boldly colorful to natural un-dyed wool colors.  


Buying Tips:  Before making a buying decision have a sample of the rug sent to you and try it in the room with the fabrics and any other items that you know will be in the room. In this way you will be able to tell if you like the overall look of the room It is very difficult to choose a rug without seeing how it will look in the lighting conditions in the room and with the fabrics and furniture in the room. If the furniture will not be available for some time, test the rug by placing it next to the fabrics.



What You Need to Know About Moroccan Rugs

It is widely understood that Moroccan rugs are perfect complements for mid-century modern and contemporary furniture and art.  What is not appreciated is that they also work beautifully with traditional decor as these five rooms illustrate.


Interiors with Moroccan Rugs


 A natural gray and white Moroccan with intricate squares provides a wonderful contrast to colorful pillows and traditional furniture upholstered in an intricate ethnic pattern in the living room of a Hamptons home designed by Cindy Sherman. 



 A natural cream and gray Ben Ourain rug complements a 70’s chair and traditional leather sofa.



A natural cream and brown Moroccan rug complements mid-century modern furniture in a living room designed by Neal Beckstedt. 



 A natural cream and brown Beni Ourain rug is layered on top of a sisal rug and complements mid century modern sofas upholstered in apricot and beige fabrics. 



A natural cream and gray Moroccan rug adds texture and warmth to a contemporary living room with cream, yellow and lilac upholstery. 



Colorful Boucherouite Berber rugs made from a variety of materials were featured in a 2010 exhibition at the Cavin Morris Gallery, New York.


History of Moroccan Rugs: Moroccan rugs have been woven for more than 10,000 years by tribal people in Morocco for use as bed covers, sleeping mats or as adornment. Moroccan tribes in different regions make distinctive types of rug. The tribes who live in the snow-capped Atlas Mountains make thick, heavy piled rugs to keep them warm in bed. The people of the hot Sahara desert weave light flat-weave rugs. Patterns are passed from one generation to the next by weavers who have no formal artistic training.

Where to use: Moroccan rugs became popular in the West when architect Le Corbusier paired them with mid-century modern furniture. Moroccan rugs woven by the Beni Ourain people of the Rif Mountains near Taza are particularly popular today. The primitivism of Moroccan rugs is a great complement to sleek modernist décor. But Moroccan rugs go well with traditional furniture as well as with rustic and Bohemian style decor.

Desirable Colors and Designs: Moroccan rugs made of natural un-dyed wool in cream, gray and brown in irregular and simple geometric patterns are the most popular. For more distinctive interiors try the more colorful Moroccan rugs and distinctive flat-weave rugs.

Buying Tips: Because of their immense popularity, there are many low quality Moroccan style rugs from India on the market. As with any type of rug, you are best off staying with the better quality Moroccan rugs.

Since Moroccan rugs have been made for utilitarian purposes such as bed covers, they are in smaller sizes with widths of less than seven feet. Most rooms require larger rugs, These can be custom made in Nepal or India and are usually of higher quality than the copies made for retail chains.


Close-up detail of a Beni Ourain Moroccan rug. 


Close-up detail of a custom Moroccan rug made by Asmara. This rug has a dense pile made of high quality hand spun wool and is not chemically washed so it is safe for children and pets.


You may also like:

23 Styles of Designer Rugs: Part 1 – From Aubusson Rugs to Chinoiserie

23 Styles of Designer Rugs: Part 2 – From Damask Rugs to Dhurrie Rugs

23 Styles of Designer Rugs: Part 3 – Cowhide Rugs to Flat Weave Rugs

23 Styles of Designer Rugs: Part 4 – Geometric Rugs to Ikat Rugs 


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