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Turn Up the Heat With a Time-Worn Kitchen Rug

modern kitchen with rug runner

Want to boost the design cred of your kitchen in about 30 seconds flat? Just lay down a beautiful rug with a traditional, time-worn pattern. Really, that’s all it takes to elevate the look of the entire room.

Many of us grew up with those Chindi-inspired oval braided rugs, flat rag rugs, spongy kitchen mats, or other inexpensive floor coverings in the kitchen. But now, the kitchen is truly the heart of the home.

Americans spend an average of 37 minutes in the kitchen daily, (but it feels like a lot more!) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Study from 2014, the most recent year available. Since we spend so much time there, it makes sense to add richer details.

Persians were the first vintage rugs we started noticing in kitchen designs. It’s funny because, some years ago, Persian rugs had fallen so far out of fashion that you almost couldn’t give them away. Maybe that’s why we decided it was OK to use them as kitchen rugs – no big loss if someone dribbled pasta sauce on it.

But when we saw the way these time-worn rugs added quiet beauty and color to the bland white kitchens, tied together with color schemes, and highlighted wood floors, they caught on.

Now, pretty much anything goes when it comes to kitchen rugs. Here are five of our favorite traditional timeworn rugs and the different ways you can use them in kitchen decor.

1. Kilim

It seems everyone loves these boldly colored geometric wool rugs. No one knows exactly where the kilim (pronounced key-LEEM) originated, but they’ve been widely made for generations in Central Asian countries including Turkey, Iran, Iraq Syria, and Azerbaijan. The flat slit-weaving technique used to make their dates back to 1000 BC, according to the book Kilim: The Complete Guide.

The team at Seattle’s Brio Interior Design made the perfect choice when they picked this warm red kilim runner from Istanbul to brighten the heart of this remodeled black and white kitchen.

2. Vintage Persians

They come in many different variations, but the intricate pattern of a vintage Persian carpet is instantly recognizable. The most traditional colors are deep red and blue with a border that includes black. According to Jessie’s Rugs, these colors are thought to convey wealth, courage, and joy with an intricate border that usually includes black.

We love the way Jessica Dolan of 25:40 Love & Co. selected a dark red vintage Persian from Old New House as the kitchen rug to set off the deep blue cabinetry and white tile in this stunning and bright space. 

blue kitchen red persian rug
Photo credit: @oldnewhouse

3. Beni Ourain

If you’ve glanced at a design magazine, one of these gorgeous and timeless neutral rugs has caught your eye. Authentic ones are handmade in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains by women from 17 different Berber tribes. Together they make up the Beni Ourain (pronounced benny or-AIN) tribe, according to research on Nazmiyal Antique Rugs. The tribe prefers natural dyes, so rugs are cream with black or brown pattern.

Most have a diamond pattern, but some include symbols that tell the story of the woman’s life or bring her luck. Beni Ourain woven pieces were originally used as bed coverings or wraps. Authentic ones are soft and shaggy, and on the smaller side, usually less than 7 feet wide.

We were smitten with this dreamy Scandinavian space with a pair of Beni Ourain kitchen rugs. It’s all black, white, and neutral, but the texture from the rugs, chairs, reclaimed wood table, and the woven light fixture make this a fascinating kitchen design.

black white kitchen beni ourain rugs
Photo credit: @beniourainrugs

4. Boucherouite

Think of these as the stylish version of those flat rag rugs – boucherouite  (pronounced Boo-shay-REET) actually means “rag” in Moroccan Arabic. These shaggy rugs often are crafted from old pieces of cotton clothing and fabric. They’re typically done in rainbow-bright colors, making them perfect for the kitchen. Depending on how they’re made, some are even washable. In this space by Dawnelle and Kirsten of D+K Renewal, the multicolored rug is just the thing to unify the black, white, apple green, and terra cotta of this boho kitchen.

rainbow boucherouite rug boho kitche
Photo credit: @dkrenewal

5. Dhurrie

Historic texts from India mention making dhurrie (pronounced DUR-ree) rugs by hand as far back as 2,000 years ago. These beautiful rugs with stripes, geometric patterns, or curving ogees are woven from cotton. Dhurries once tended to pale and muted earth tones, but these days they’ve adopted the vivid hues seen in kilims. According to @fromjaipurwithlove, weaving one dhurrie can take six to 10 weeks depending on how intricate the pattern is. (Check out this video from @tipiinteriors of a man weaving a dhurrie.) And just like the kilim, a dhurrie is an ideal kitchen rug: it has the same pattern on both sides, so you can flip it over if one side gets stained. 

Julia Green of Greenhouse Interiors in Australia adores color; for this eat-in kitchen featured in Inside Out Magazine, she laid a bright harlequin-pattern dhurrie from Mr. Fenton Rugs under the table. Don’t hot pink, orange, and brown woven chairs look marvelous together?

So, which time-worn rug do you want to add to your kitchen? Follow @studiodearborn on Instagram and tell us!