What to Look for in a Jute or Sisal Rug
If you're shopping for eco-friendly room décor, consider adding a stylish rug made from natural fibers to your cart. Namely, rugs composed of jute and sisal. The former—the softer fiber between the two—is derived from Corchorus flowering plants and often spun into burlap. Sisal, the name of another flowering plant species, produces a rougher textile used to make rope. When woven into rugs, jute and sisal create sturdy, durable coverings that fit well into just about any home type, whether your aesthetic tastes lean more modern or rustic.
As you shop for jute and sisal rugs, it's crucial to remember the unique characteristics that separate these materials from synthetic fabrics and each other. From natural brown colors and dyed fibers to rough textures, unique patterns, and different weaves, you can prioritize different aspects of both rug types to find the right accent piece for your space. To help you find the best jute and sisal pieces, we asked interior designers and décor experts alike exactly what you should consider. Ahead, find their professional insight (and expert recommendations) to aid your search.
Jute or Sisal?
When choosing between jute or sisal, it's important to consider where in your home you plan to place the rug. "My rule of thumb is sisal for high-traffic areas and jute for barefooted areas," says Maria Juvakka, a decorating expert and the founder of Chic Pursuit. Are you looking for a floor covering to place at your front door or in a hallway? Juvakka suggests durable, tougher sisal, like this diamond wool variety ($94.62, sisalrugs.com). But if you're more interested in an accent piece to lay beneath an office desk or coffee table, she says softer jute—like this basket weave iteration (from $129.99, worldmarket.com)—is the way to go.
When deciding on placement, you also need to consider the rug's size and whether you plan on layering it with others—something you should absolutely consider when working with these mediums. Since jute and sisal are natural fibers that aren't easily cleaned, placing different carpets on top can help keep dirt away. "I love to use a large jute or sisal rug to anchor a space, then layer it with more cleanable wool or synthetic options," says Jessica Davis, an interior designer and principal at JL Design. "I tend to lean towards sisals, as they typically have a tighter and flatter weave, so they layer more easily," adds Davis, who recommends this bordered sisal area rug ($375.85, target.com).
The natural fibers in both jute and sisal rugs can feel scratchy and rough on your bare feet, explains Ash Read, the founder of Living Cozy, so you'll likely want to find rugs woven with other textiles. Read recommends shopping for something that has jute mixed with chenille (from $199, potterybarn.com) for a softer texture, rather than purchasing pure jute or sisal. Interior designer Courtney Sempliner also suggests paying attention to the weave. A chunkier, larger weave—like one from West Elm ($315, westelm.com)—she explains, will feel softer and more comfortable to walk on.
Color and Pattern
Many jute and sisal rugs are un-dyed, which mean they come in different shades of tan and brown, Trendey's Andra DelMonico explains. But what if those shades or designs don't match your home décor? Good news: You can still find more dynamic options with colors, shapes, and patterns. You just need to know where to look. Dyed fibers can add pops of color—Sempliner recommends this deep indigo sisal rug (from $50, annieselk.com) by Annie Selke—and different weaves create unique textural patterns. "The Round Teardrops Jute Rug from West Elm (from $295, westelm.com) has a unique pattern that will look beautiful under an entryway or coffee table," says DelMonico. Traditional options can still feature interesting motifs, too. Take a look at this Southwestern-inspired design (from $313, jaipurliving.com), recommended by Lauren Lerner, an interior designer and principal at Living with Lolo.
Choosing the cheapest option isn't typically the smartest way to shop when it comes to these carpet types, DelMonico says. "Cheap, low-quality jute will be a disappointment. It doesn't go through as extensive of a plant preparation process and won't have a durable rug construction," she explains. "This leads to the rug unraveling or shedding a large number of fibers." So what exactly does a high-quality piece look like? DelMonico points to the Mahal Jute Rug ($95.34, sisalrugs.com). "The jute is produced on small farms in India," DelMonico says, "then tightly handwoven and finished with a protective webbing border."