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Jute rug's not as durable as seagrass or sisal, but its luxe feel and texture promises serious visual interest.

Photographee.eu/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Versatile, classic and – hallelujah! – affordable, natural-fibre rugs look like a million bucks whether they’re installed wall-to-wall or used as area rugs. These chameleons of the design world are coveted for their toasty-golden neutral tones, which warm up any room without calling too much attention to themselves. A perennial designer favourite, natural rugs can also blend into any style of interior, from the hallway of a grand Victorian to the living room of a mid-century bungalow. But best of all, they’re all made from sustainable, renewable materials.

When dyed, some natural fibres put on a dazzling floor show with patterns. Some weaves are chunky while others are flat, and some are silky while others feel like the two-day stubble of a hipster’s beard. So, it’s no wonder that you’re suffering from carpet confusion. Let’s dig into three of the most popular materials: seagrass, sisal and jute.

As the name suggests, seagrass grows in saltwater marshes, is easy to harvest and replenishes quickly, making it an eco-friendly choice. The most hardworking and durable of the natural options, seagrass rugs are often banded to finish the edges and backed in latex. They’re a marvel for entryways and kitchens. The only con of this fibre, which is actually a pro, is that seagrass is naturally stain-resistant and can’t be dyed, so the only option, colour-wise, is its organic khaki-green tint.

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Sisal carpets feature a tight weave and are made from the fibres of the agave plant. Relatively inexpensive, sisal makes a brilliant wall-to-wall carpet, but its texture is prickly and coarse under bare feet until it mellows with wear. Sisal can be dyed, so expect to see tones of black, coffee, navy and white – but that also means it absorbs household stains quickly and noticeably. Layer decorative rugs, such as Persians or Moroccans, over plain sisal carpets for an of-the-moment combo.

Strong enough to be spun into heavy-duty cord and burlap, jute comes from a plant of the same name. Though jute’s look can be braided, chunky and rustic, its fibres are astonishingly soft – close your eyes and you might think you’re walking on wool. For that reason, it’s not as durable as seagrass or sisal, but its luxe feel and texture promises serious visual interest.

I hope this natural-fibre primer helps you pick the best rug for your room. Happy hunting!

Need some advice about interior design and decor? Send your questions to personaldesigner@globeandmail.com.

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