Interior Design: Modern Shag Carpets

A designer suggests modern adaptations of this iconic floor covering.

Posted by Linda Merrill | May 16, 2011
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L_Avi/stock.xchngBack in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, shag carpets became all the rage. In retrospect, they were of a piece with long hair on women and men, maxi-skirts, long bell-bottom 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 1980’s, 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. There have been several design notes that point to the 1970’s, such as low-rise jeans, midriff-baring tops, platform shoes, long and straight hair on girls and, yes, shaggier hair is seen on some boys and young men.  The difference between the first decade of the 21st century and the 1970’s is that the “shag” look hasn’t dominated the scene; it has merely punctuated it. Fashion and interior design is more flexible with a considerable amount of mix and match of modern and classic styles. Today, young men may have short or long hair, girls 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. DIY Resource:

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. Dating back to 5th century Greece, shepherds began weaving the sheep’s wool into clothing, bedding and floor coverings.  Today, the 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, such as Ikea’s is machine tufted on a polypropylene base and costs between $30 and $80 depending on size. Williams-Sonoma offers a fully hand loomed 100% New Zealand wool flokati rug at a significantly higher price of $1,000-$2,000.  DIY Resource:

Mixed-Media Shag Carpets

Safavieh Rugs is producing a line of contemporary shag rugs, with prices starting under $500, made of polypropylene that are luxurious in feel and showcase a myriad of different styles and patterns. They are also mixing the shags in with woven looped designs for a mixed-media look. On the more modest end, Target offers some fun shag carpets in plain colors as well as zipper Zebra stripes. Made of nylon, these rugs range in price from $30-$70.

Linda Merrill is a writer.  Read more articles like this one or get help with your home projects on

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