When we first moved into our house the kitchen floor was covered by a series of custom sisal rugs with black borders…The owner told me that they used to have oriental rugs in the kitchen but were advised to replace them for staging purposes. I remember thinking that the real estate agent had been wise: oriental rugs would seem a little incongruous, especially in such a modern, minimalist kitchen. And, on a practical level, wouldn't the rugs get ruined by stains and crumbs? And what about hygiene?
Now, years later, I wish those original oriental rugs had stayed with the house instead of sisals — which we abandoned in a matter of months. Turns out that sisal is more impractical than a Persian could ever be. A few messy afternoons cooking with my kids and the sisals developed a new and unwelcome pattern of their own: a jam splotch here, an olive oil streak there. Maybe the original owners were onto something??
We have profiled kitchens with oriental rugs and kilims before on Apartment Therapy Chez Nathalie & Keith and Good Questions: Rug and Window Treatment Ideas for New Kitchen?. Though comments have been largely positive, some folks were concerned that oriental rugs — especially the antique or expensive ones — would not stand up to the trauma of kitchen life. This could be true. I certainly wouldn't put a very old, delicate rug or an extremely pricey rug in the kitchen. However, personal experience and a little research have taught me that oriental rugs are surprisingly resilient.
• STAIN RESISTANT & DURABLE Indeed, wool rugs in general are naturally stain resistant, as the lanolin in the wool repels liquids. Remember, in the days before polyurethane was used to coat and protect wood floors, rugs were used for their beauty but also for their protective qualities and their durability.
• EASY TO CARE FOR Unlike a sisal rug — which is virtually impossible to clean — an oriental rug carries with it some pretty basic care instructions: vacuum regularly and blot up spots quickly and thoroughly. If you get to the spill quickly, you are probably good to go. Moreover, the detailed patterns and rich colors of many oriental rugs act as a natural camouflage to stains, especially that dreaded spray of red wine.
• An inexpensive kilim may be the most practical of all because they are flat-weaved and therefore easier to sweep, wash and dry. For some helpful cleaning instructions check out Rugrag.
• There is no doubt, however, that a Chilewich vinyl rug or an indoor/outdoor carpet from Dash and Albert are going to win hands down in the ease of use contest. Both can be hosed down in the back yard! It doesn't get any easier.
But, practicality aside, an oriental rug in a modern or contemporary kitchen can be a simply beautiful study in contrast and elegance. I am already on the prowl for one for my kitchen.
Images: 1: Lonny; 2: Elle Decor; 3: Apartment Therapy; 4: My Pear Tree House; 5: Kim's Kitchen Remodel;
6: HGTV; 7: From the Right Bank; 8: High Street Market; 9: Beautiful Living; 10: The Little Green Notebook