Interior Design: Modern Shag Carpets

    L_Avi/stock.xchngBack in the 1960s and 70s, shag carpets became all the rage. In retrospect, they were of a piece with long hair on women and men, maxi skirts, long bellbottom pants and the general loosening of social mores. In fact, the name “shag” came from the carpets being called “shaggy,” like a shaggy dog or “Your head is shaggy -- get a haircut!” Shag carpets, along with the long hair and leisure suits, went out of style by the early 1980s, a decade known for its over-the-top, conservative formality in fashion and design. 

    Is shag carpet back for good?

    So, why is it that in the last decade we’ve seen a resurgence of shag carpet? For one thing, styles come and go. Lately there've been several design notes pointing to the 1970s, like low-rise jeans, midriff-baring tops, platform shoes, and yes, shaggier hair on some boys and young men. 

    The difference from the 1970s is now that the “shag” look doesn't dominate the scene; it merely punctuates it. Fashion and interior design are more flexible, with a considerable amount of mix and match of modern and classic styles.

    Today, young men may have short or long hair, young women may wear skinny jeans or bell-bottoms, and shag carpets are usually only used as area rugs on top of a sisal or other low-pile, tightly woven carpet.

    Shag rugs collect debris in their deep pile and are hard to clean.  Additionally, they catch high heels or cats paws very easily; therefore a wall-to-wall shag is likely not ever coming back into vogue.

    The Classic Flokati Rug

    One of the oldest and most enduring styles of shag rug is the flokati, a hand woven sheep’s wool rug with a felted back and long, shaggy face. This rug style dates back to 5th century Greece, when shepherds began weaving the wool of their sheep wool into clothing, bedding and floor coverings. Today, flokati rugs are still very popular for their warm and rich texture that is both visual and tactile. The rugs still come in natural wool, although less expensive versions are machine tufted on a polypropylene base.

    Contemporary Shag Carpets

    Safavieh Rugs is producing a line of contemporary shag rugs made of polypropylene, which are reasonable in price yet luxurious in feel and showcase a myriad of different modern styles and patterns. They are also mixing the shags in with woven looped designs for a mixed-media look. At the high end of the scale, we love their ultra-luxe leather shag rugs, hand-knotted using long strips of natural leather. Striking!

    Linda Merrill writes for

    Updated December 9, 2018.

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