Jute Rugs: High Style, Low Maintenance


I’m dipping my toes into neutral rug territory (gasp!). I know! That’s saying something from She Who Can’t Deal with Beige.

I’m currently obsessing over jute and sisal rugs, and I blame two things.  First: over the summer, we stayed in that ridiculously amazing house in Watersound, Florida. You guys all lost your collective minds over it, as we did, and the common theme of that home was a tightly consistent color scheme. And what tied it all together? Natural fiber rugs.

World Market Tulip table // Serena & Lily riviera chairs // Target Project 62 lamp  (such a BARGAIN) //  Pencil Shavings for Jill Rosenwald pottery // Loom Decor drapes

Every single room of the house had a version of this type of rug:

Watersound, Florida, luxury vacation rental on hwy 30a. Florida luxury vacation rentals - Emerald Coast getaway - colorful beach coastal living - www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved them – ALL fifty bajillion bedrooms full of them! Our only experience with a jute rug was years ago from West Elm and it was absolutely wretchedly painful underfoot.  But not a single one of those rugs in that gorgeous house looked worn out after lots of hard use (i.e., sandy feet & lots of vacation traffic) nor were any uncomfortable. I was being swayed. It was ticking all my boxes of form and function, but could I deal with the neutral hue despite my love of bold color and pattern?

Ok, so that was the first thing that planted the seed to give neutral rugs a try. That house was so crazy chic and I was really loving that extra bit of texture and style those rugs provided.

Secondly, you might remember that last year’s One Room Challenge was this boldly colorful living room with a white(!) sectional. I cannot tell you how many people thought we were absolutely bananas, but here’s what I know 1 year later (and what’s changed).

Pencil Shavings's One Room Challenge living room reveal, complete with loads of bold blues and accented with red. Check out the full reveal inspired by the preppy regatta stripe rug from Dash & Albert, plus a kidfriendly white sofa. www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

We did a gorgeous stripe outdoor rug (seen above), which is usually my go-to with kids and pets, especially indoors. They’re pretty indestructible, as a rule, and soft underfoot.  But over time, it started to get really icky, even with regular cleaning. The sectional is covered in Crypton Home fabric, and has held up pretty well but the rug really took the brunt of a lot of abuse. (Side note on the white sectional: stains still continue to pop out of it easily, although it does get a bit dingy from time to time. I have taken every cushion off and tossed the covers into the washing machine two or three times, which does the trick when a quick spot clean doesn’t quite get the job done.)

Needless to say, that rug needed a good deep clean, and I realized at the same time that we are simply incapable of doing a rug with any kind of white element in it. Like NO. Someone is going to vomit, poop, or smear mud on it. #wompwomp There’s simply too much dirt, kids, neighbors, dogs, muddy paws, spilled drinks, and everything else you can imagine for us to survive with our sanity intact.

So. Enter the jute rug. (Although hang tight with me on that gorgeous striped indoor/outdoor rug because I’m not done with it yet!). I figured, what do we have to lose? We can STILL have a color-happy living room, even with a neutral piece underfoot. And maybe – just maybe? – I’m appreciating the visual calm that it’s bringing to a room that tends to be pretty busy (bold patterns notwithstanding).


  • First, order a few different samples if you are able to, or check them out in a store so you can feel them underfoot. They come in all different varieties. Some jute rugs are woven with other materials like wool or chenille to give them added texture and softness. Jute will be softer than sisal, but sisal is more durable in the long-run than a solid jute rug due to the way the natural fibers are woven. The trade-off is that sisal is rougher underfoot, so it’s best to get your hands (and feet) on a few different types to see what feels best to you.
  • Determining what type of traffic your space gets will inform your decision. High traffic spaces are living rooms, kitchens, entryways, etc. Low traffic would be a bedroom or a guest room, and possibly also your home office or dining room.
  • You definitely want to have a rug pad underneath. Our rug, in particular (the Haze jute rug in Sand from Annie Selke), tends to stretch a bit due to the give of the natural fibers, and keeping it in place not only reduces any risk of slipping on the wood floors underneath, but it also extends the life or a rug (of any weave, for that matter).
  • Some natural fiber rugs will shed a bit over time, but if you treat them well, and blot any spills as quickly as possible, you shouldn’t have any prolonged issue. All rugs need to be rotated on a semi-regular basis, too, much like the cushions on your sofa need to be flipped to help them maintain their shape.
  • Don’t consider these for anywhere other than indoors. They’re not good for patios or porches unless they are covered, but even then I’d be iffy about it.

Nickels is all about posing for the camera, is he not? Good grief.

Haze Sand Jute rug c/o Annie Selke // Rowe Sectional // Serena & Lily Monaco throw // LivenUp custom X bench in Crypton Home fabric

So what happened with the indoor/outdoor rug that I loved so much but wore so hard?  I’m happy to say that it’s living its best life outside, on the newly redesigned back patio underneath our dining table. I’ve had several Annie Selke indoor/outdoor rugs and despite all that wear and tear indoors, it only took one good rain shower to get it back to good as new. MAGIC, I tell you.

Ok, comment away – are you a fan? What’s been your experience with natural fiber rugs?

Thanks to Annie Selke for sponsoring today’s post, and for your support of the brands that keep Pencil Shavings going.


with love,

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