Transitional Rugs vs. Contemporary Rugs: What’s the Difference?

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When you start looking for a new area rug, how do you search? Do you narrow your choices down by material, such as wool or polypropylene? By style, such as shag or hand-hooked? By shape, such as cowhide or hand-carved?

Or do you stick to a certain design category, such as transitional or contemporary?

It’s easy to picture a shag rug, or a seagrass rug, for example. Those categories are straightforward and specific. You know what you’re getting every time. But what comes to mind when you imagine a transitional rug? What about a contemporary rug? Due to the wide variety of rugs encompassed by those categories, the answer’s just not as clear-cut.

That’s why, today, we’re going to lay out the differences between traditional, transitional, and contemporary rugs, so that you can find the designs that speak to you the most, and use your knowledge of these categories to aid in your quest to find the perfect area rug for your space!

Traditional Rugs  

Let’s start with a more commonplace term. Just about everyone is familiar with traditional rugs. These are the Persian, Oriental, or otherwise classic area rugs used in traditional home décor. They are stately and gorgeous, ornate and intricate in pattern and color. Their designs date back centuries, and their beauty is universally recognized. Traditional rugs are known for the luxurious touch of elegance they add to any room.

One example of a traditional rug is our Rizzy Rug Shine Black Rug:

Traditional RugContemporary Rugs      

Modern or contemporary rugs, on the other hand, are more like a work of modern art than a conventional rug. They incorporate bold color choices and cutting-edge, unusual design elements. They can often be so unique that they are considered novelties, pushing the boundaries between floor coverings and works of art. Contemporary rugs are the perfect complement – or centerpiece – for a chic, modern space.

An exciting example of a contemporary rug is our Rugs USA Radiant Fireworks Blue Rug:

Contemporary Rug

Transitional Rugs

Finally, transitional rugs are a halfway point between traditional and contemporary, incorporating elements of each style. Taking a more classic motif from traditional rugs, they often feature repeating design elements in an all-over pattern, whether geometric or floral. But as with contemporary rugs, they are not bound by traditional conventions, and often include interesting details such as hand-carving, an impressionistic feel, or asymmetrical designs meant to draw the eye. Because the possibilities are so vast within this category, sometimes there can seem to be some overlap between what exactly is considered transitional as opposed to traditional or contemporary – boundaries can be hard to draw. But that’s why transitional rugs are so popular – they please a wide variety of tastes, and fit a wide variety of spaces.

Here’s one example of a transitional rug, our Tuscan Lerke Trellis Flatwoven Sky Blue Rug:

Transitional Rug

And here’s another, our Santa Ana Verona Multi Rug:

Transitional Rug

Are you more of a traditional rug fan, or do you favor contemporary rugs? Or do you sit firmly in the middle with transitional rugs? Let us know in the comments section below!

  • Ajay Kumar

    Such a nice comparison amongst traditional, transitional and contemporary area rugs. I am amazed with the clarifications and at the same time, my curiosity reached at a higher level. I am quite impressed with modern and contemporary rugs and influenced by traditional patterns of Persian rugs and oriental rugs. Even the transitional patterns also adore me at some points. But as a user, I must prefer to use modern and contemporary rugs at my house or even in my office.