Aubusson rugs represent some of the most beautiful rugs in history. Their origin goes back to the 16th century to the village of Aubusson on the banks of the Creuse river, whose waters were famous for their ability for dyeing vibrant colors. This region of central France is about 200 miles from Paris. Aubusson rugs are handmade in a flat weave construction that resembles heavy tapestries which adorn the walls of French castles and palaces. Aubusson rugs quickly captured the hearts of the French aristocracy because their patterns were similar to those of pile Savonnerie carpets which were unavailable to the aristocracy as they were made exclusively for the King’s palaces. Aubusson rugs come in very large sizes and feature center medallions, lyrical floral patterns, and soft color palettes. For hundreds of years Aubusson rugs have been synonymous with the ultimate in French refinement and elegance. While Aubusson rugs continue to be produced in Aubusson and the nearby village of Filletin, the production is extremely limited and is mostly confined to orders placed by the French government for presentation to foreign heads of state. For a few years starting in the 1990’s Aubusson rugs were woven in China, but with the rapid rise of wages in that country, hand weaving of Aubusson rugs is now coming to an end. However the love for Aubusson rugs continues unabated among sophisticated interior decorators and connoisseurs. Just as the French aristocracy was once captured by the beauty of Aubusson rugs, so are we today fascinated by the possibilities Aubusson rugs offer for designing refined and elegant interiors in both modern and traditional styles.
Interior designer Bruce Bierman said “Rugs are so spectacular that I like them to stand alone in the room unobstructed by competing fabric or wall patterns.” For this Jupiter Florida living room Bierman arranged the seating around the round medallion of the Aubusson rug and centered a round glass topped coffee table to echo the shape of the medallion. White upholstery and white walls bring out the grandeur of the Aubusson rug and also give the room a modern feeling. Image and Bierman quotations courtesy Alix Perrachon, The Decorative Carpet.
Tips for Decorating with Aubusson Rugs
1. Design the Room Around the Aubusson Rug
There is no denying the focal point Aubusson rugs can become in a room. Let the Aubusson rug stand alone for it’s beauty and strength that it adds to the space. Think of it as a large canvas, a piece of art, that carries the rest of the room, then build around it, just as interior designer Bruce Bierman has done in the Florida living room above.
2. Chose an Aubusson Rug Because You Love It
The designs and colors of Aubusson rugs are timeless and this makes it possible for you to decorate in any style that suits your tastes. Choose an Aubusson rug because you love it and not because of any fashion trends which will always be short lived. This will ensure that you will always like the Aubusson rug. Now build the room around the rug as Bruce Bierman has done. Select furniture that brings out the beauty of the Aubusson rug and makes it the focal point of the room. You should know that classic Aubusson rugs are extremely flexible and will always be in fashion. They give you the ability to change the decor as decorating styles change in the future without ever having to change the rug.
3. Use the Colors of the Aubusson Rug as a Guide to Selecting Room Colors
Use the colors found in the rug to create your room’s palette for paint, upholstery and drapery. The colors should not be an exact match as you don’t want the room to look too contrived. Instead, focus on the shades and hues in the Aubusson rug and choose colors that compliment as well as some that create a lively contrast with the colors in the Aubusson rug.
4. Choose Fabric and Furniture to According to Your Desired Decorating Style
A classic Aubusson rug will work with all decorating styles whether they are modern, traditional or transitional. Let your preferred interior design style guide you in choosing colors, patterns, and other elements in the room. If you have a traditional home, you will want to select elements that give formality, symmetry and sophistication. If wish your home to have a mix of modern and traditional styles, select elements that create an asymmetrical, more casual feeling in the room as Kate Spade did in her living room pictured later in this post. You can use the same classic Aubusson rug in each type of room. The end result will be determined by other things you add to the room.
Joan Rivers living room shows a very formal interior that emphasizes symmetrical balance and sophisticated luxury. Image: Pinterest Aubusson Rugs Decorating
Kate Spades living room is a great example of a casual, eclectic look. Image courtesy The Selby.
5. Select the Size of the Aubusson Rug and Arrange Furniture to Promote Comfort
When choosing an Aubusson rug, the size and type of room will determine the size of the rug. Do not be overly concerned about covering up part of the pattern of the Aubusson rug with furniture. Arrange the furniture in a way that makes the room most comfortable for the people who will use it. If you place the furniture in a way that avoids covering the pattern, the decor will look contrived and un-sophisticated.
In a dining room, the Aubusson rug will be under the table and chairs, so measure for a rug size that allows the chairs to be pulled away from the table and the back legs of the chair are still on the rug. Aubusson rugs tend to be in larger sizes starting at 8′ x 10′ and go up to 14’x20′. Smaller sizes such as 6’x9′, 4’x6′ and 3’x5′ are sometimes available.
In the music room of his New Orleans home, interior designer Hal Williamson placed the piano, harp and chaise where it made the most sense instead of being concerned about covering the pattern of this beautiful gold and yellow Aubusson rug with musical instruments. Image courtesy Hal Williamson.
A beautiful example of an Aubusson rug in an Art Deco style that was in Nelson Rockefeller’s New York living room which was designed by Rockefeller family friend and architect Wallace K. Harrison. Parisian artist Christian Bérard designed the Aubusson rug with yellow, white and black flowers on a reddish brown background. Jean-Michel Frank was responsible for the furniture Image: Pinterest Aubusson Rugs Decorating
6. Aubusson Rug Shapes
A cream and grey Aubusson rug with a colorful floral pattern welcomes visitors at the entry hall of Albemarle House in Vigininia designed by David Easton. Image courtesy Pinterest Designer: David Easton.
Aubusson rugs are available in square and rectangular shapes. Most rooms require a square or rectangular shaped rug as the best fit for the room. French Aubusson rugs were rarely made in round shapes.