An instant way to create a Middle Eastern authenticity to your Mediterranean-style villa is to add kilim rugs and pillows. The wool and flat weave method means that these textiles are hardy enough for high traffic as well as indoor and outdoor exposure. They would make the perfect addition for a sunroom.
Hailing from a region known as Anatolia (Central Asia), the kilim rug is mainly Turkish in origin and resembles a Persian or Oriental type rug, but it is flat woven, meaning it has no pile. You can identify a kilim by its geometric octogonal and diamond medallion designs.
Kilim rugs receive their warm natural colors from the wool that is traditionally dyed with vegetables. The ochres, reds, browns, and sometimes purples and blacks tie together a bright multi colored room by offering both harmony and contrast.
Global: check. Ethnic: check. Tribal: check. Yes, kilim rugs are all those things but more. The initial image you might get in your head is a bohemian pad with a large kilim rug and floor cushions tastefully strewn about for relaxed gatherings.
If the kilim is hardy enough for a nomadic tent floor, you can trust it will hold up to the abuse of the kitchen or bathroom floor. It will add a jolt of color and visual interest to a high functioning sterile space such as a kitchen or bathroom.
Sometimes, you will find a beautiful kilim rug but due to its age, it is no longer suitable for the floor if you want to see it last many more years. The best way to salvage the faded textile is to repurpose it into floor or sofa cushions. The original character of the rug survives, but with a new function. Nestled among other salvaged and vintage pieces, the kilim pillow is just right.
Many of the great mid-century modernists were inspired by the geometric patterns and earthiness of kilims and other tribal art. Today, it seems like a natural and critical step to enliven a modern, stark white minimalist space with a few tribal pieces and a kilim rug.
Another example of kilim style pillows adding warmth and texture to a modern, but not minimalist, living room.
It's not the first type of rug I would have thought of for a plush Regency Glamour black and white office with jolts of hot pink. But maybe that's why the simple kilim works so well. It brings the space back down to earth.
The ancient tribal nomads used kilim tapestries as decorative wall hangings. If you find an especially intricate or antique piece, so should you.
Get your own: although serious rug collectors typically enter the game with kilims because they are relatively inexpensive, authentic antique kilims can be pricey. National retailers such as West Elm provide affordable machine made versions that mimic the traditional tribal patterns.
Online shops such as Overstock offer new rugs, hand-loomed in India, that offer the bright traditional patterns at affordable prices.
A close up look at a modern day kilim rug. Originally these tribal textiles were used in everyday life as floor coverings, tent decorations, storage sacks and saddlebags. It is amazing to bring a small part of prehistoric human traditions into our everyday modern lives.
Sukan sells a beautiful selection of upcycled kilim pillows. What were once rugs that were falling apart have been transformed into hardy and beautiful pillows.