I Don’t Wear a Crown: Can I Decorate With French Savonnerie Rugs?

You may be asking this question with a smile on your face, but you’re only half joking. It was pretty clear early on that French Savonnerie rugs were something special. From the moment they were spawned in 17th-century France, these elaborate and exquisite rugs, hand woven by Parisian weavers, were deemed so spectacular that they were exclusively manufactured for the King. The advent of Aubusson rugs came about in large part due to the clamoring and demands of the moneyed classes who were desperate for the Savonnerie carpets but who were for the most part locked out from getting them.

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This gorgeous Savonnerie carpet, laced through with warm gold, aqua and rose, graces the “King’s Bed Chamber” at Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte in Maincy, France, the spectacular personal residence of Louis XIV’s superintendent of finance, the doomed Nicholas Fouquet.

Decadence That Inspired the Envy of a Decadent King

Today, all you need to acquire French Savonnerie rugs is a checkbook. Your problem is that when you think of Savonnerie rugs (or Savonnerie carpets as they are often called), images of over-the-top, excessively decorated rooms probably come to mind. Savonnerie rugs play a central role at Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, the exquisite residence designed by architect Louis Le Vau, painter Charles Le Brun and landscape designer André Le Nôtre, the masterminds who would go on to design Versailles. Overflowing with neo-classical allegories, Roman statuary, countless crystal chandeliers and Mazarin desks, simple the home was not. It was so intensely luxurious, jaw-droppingly beautiful and awe-inspiring that it inspired the envy of the King, who promptly had Fouquet thrown in prison on embezzlement charges. How can you compete with  décor that created envy so intense that the man responsible for creating it lost everything?

Today French Savonnerie Rugs Are for People Desiring Something Special

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There’s no question who the star is here. The lovely Seville Savonnerie rug features a glamorous green, gold, cream and brown color palette that takes center stage in this sparsely decorated room that manages to convey a thoroughly contemporary feel even though the furnishings, a Louis XVI arm chair and an old wooden door, have a decidedly antique feel.  

Again, you’re joking, but kind of not. You may not have to worry about envious royals banishing you from the kingdom, but the fact remains that French Savonnerie carpets have always been associated with luxury, and often, decadence. A quick online scan will bring up photo after photo of French Savonnerie rugs gracing homes with museum-quality interiors. You may be worried that your home won’t give your Savonnerie rug the honor that is it’s due. You don’t have to worry. The fact that you are even talking about bringing a Savonnerie rug into your home means that you are a person who understands its uniqueness, its pedigree and its ability to transform a room into something truly special.

Create Your Own Version of a “Grand Salon” Using French Savonnerie Rugs

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This luxurious open space room designed around the Seville Savonnerie rug shows that Savonnerie rugs enrich many different decorating styles, such as this Tuscan inspired library seating area that welcomes you as soon as you enter this North Carolina home. Interior design and photo by Koch Studio.

“Stick to the things that you really love. An honest room is always up to date.” Billy Baldwin, interior designer

Remember this sentiment as you design your room around your Savonnerie rug. Baldwin insisted that the key elements of his clients’ personalities remained in the rooms he designed, even when he was making them completely over. With Baldwin, quality and trueness to oneself trumped all.

If you’re decorating with French Savonnerie rugs, build your room around them using the things you love. If you lean towards modern, don’t fear embracing it, even if your Savonnerie rug is an antique. If your home lacks the architectural details of the Palace at Versailles but you love that style, recreate it with your furnishings and accessories.


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