The most luxurious domestic rugs are the chenille, axminster whole carpets, some of them seven-eighths of an inch thick, with five-eighths as the regular and three-eighths the least expensive grade. They come without seam, and although the weave is not limited as to colors, they are sold mostly with plain fields, and in two-and three-tone effects. The very cheapest grade of this make is called agra axminster and is sold for $8 a square yard; the first regular grade, for $ 10.75 a square yard. They can be made with curved edges and in all kinds of irregular shapes to fit unusual conditions, and can easily be matched to any desired tone of color. This influences in their favor decorators who wish to reproduce historic interiors exactly or to execute schemes of their own with perfect harmony between all parts of the environment.
The descent toward less expensive rugs is marked by the increased use of colored patterns. People who want pattern in high-priced rugs purchase Orientals.
The cheaper grade of chenille axminster, that is sold for stock in the usual sizes, a 9 x 12 costing $55, is also made to order in two-tone effects up to nine feet wide for $6 a yard. Special colors cost $7.50, and when in unusual widths, $8.50.
The 9 x 12 axminster (not chenille) previously mentioned, that sells for $37.50, is made in 3-4 widths and seamed like the brussels, wilton, tapestry brussels and velvet. It resembles the wilton, although the weave permits an unlimited range of colors, and a standard grade like the arlington axminster runs a little thicker and a little coarser than a wilton of the same price.
For general use the wilton is the rug. Most of them are only one-fourth of an inch thick and do not sink under the foot like rugs of higher pile. But they are made in an immense range of patterns and qualities to please every taste. The saxony wilton is three-eighths of an inch thick, imitates Orientals closely, and has a soft, flexible back that adds to the similarity. The price of a 9 x 12 is $ 50, and where one cannot afford an Oriental, but wants a durable rug that resembles an Oriental, this is the rug to buy. I recommend it for libraries, dining-rooms, halls and dens.
The so-called french wiltons, at $52.50 for a 9 x 12, are not thick, but the weave is exceedingly fine and the color tones delicate. The best reproductions of Louis XV and Louis XVI patterns, as well as good Oriental patterns, are found here. For the reception-room and the boudoir they are to be recommended.
The cheaper grades of wiltons are to be recommended in proportion as they approach the standard of these two. Many of them as low as $30 for the 9 x 12 are well made, of a fair grade of materials, and in patterns and colorings that are not ugly. I would recommend the increased use of wiltons in two-tone effects. If people will crowd walls with pattern and the room with furniture, at least allow the floor to remain neutral in the Battle of the Styles.
If your purse is very limited and the rug must stand hard wear, then buy a brussels, which in the 9 x 12 size costs $27. Avoid most of the patterns and colorings and choose the simplest that you can find. Nobody will mistake a brussels for an Oriental, but on the other hand it won't look shabby at the end of six months like a cheap rug with cut pile.
Smyrnas come in simplified dark and medium Oriental patterns and colorings chiefly, and the standard price for a 9 x 12 is $ 28.50. There are also superior grades in two-tone and mottled effects that are well worth their price, $42.
Do not buy a cheap Smyrna. It will prove to be partly coarse jute and the colors will fade.
The lower you go the more complex and awful the patterns and the fiercer the color discords that serve to hide the imperfections of weave and material. Tapestry brussels for $ 19.50, velvets for $22.50 (the better grades of which are called wilton velvets to encourage the buyer), and art squares are the last resort of the patterns of a generation ago. You can buy a 9 x 12 art square in wool for $9 and in cotton for - but no, I refuse to name the price of cotton or printed cotton imitations of art squares. A bare floor is at least honest and respectable.
Not that I would bar cotton from the floor. Far from it. The cotton pile rugs, 3 x 6 at $4, for the bathroom are attractive and fairly durable. The numerous brands of rag carpet at $ 18 for a 9 x 12 are worthy of all respect and can be most decoratively employed in the furnishing of chambers. In fact, to me the rug par excellence for a simple Colonial chamber is one of these rag carpets of the type inherited from our ancestors.
The fiber rugs at $ 10.50 for a 9 x 12 and the grass rugs at $7.50 for a 9 x 12 are convenient for use in bungalows and summer cottages and in smaller sizes on porches; and for temporary furnishing, or where the rugs are to be exposed to treatment that will ruin the better qualities quickly. Decoratively they are not long satisfactory even when pleasing at first. They are woven like a rag carpet with slender cotton warp tying together the coarse filling. The elaborate patterns sometimes produced on the grass rugs by painting are as offensive to the nose as to the eye.
If you are obliged to buy something cheap and nasty, do it with your eyes open. Don't imagine that you are cleverer at the game than the people who are selling the goods. And don't chase too wildly after bargains. It is true that discontinued patterns are frequently sold at a considerable reduction - but the discontinued patterns are not apt to be the best ones. Whether you need a fine rug or an inexpensive one, do not go to dealers who advertise wildly that they are sacrificing themselves for your benefit. Distrust them. Buy of dealers who have a high reputation for regularly selling goods at a fair price.
Body brussels, uncut pile, limited to six colors, woven twenty-seven inches wide, seamed, very durable, easy to take care of, and inexpensive. Wilton, cut pile, limited to six colors, seamed, softer, handsomer and heavier than the brussels, but harder to clean. Tapestry, uncut pile, warp printed before weaving; an imitation of body brussels cheaply made for cheap trade. Velvet, cut pile, warp printed before weaving; an imitation of the wilton; the better grades are called wilton velvets; the poorer grades do not deserve house room. Ingrain, flat cloth without pile and seamless; much pattern and little art, with a few exceptions. The better grades of ingrain carpeting called filling or terry are excellent, where thickness is not important; used as a foundation for rugs where the floor is bad. Axminster, cut pile, unlimited as to the number of colors, seamed. Chenille axminster, thick, unlimited colors, cut pile formed by weft of chenille braid; in one piece without seam; the most luxurious domestic rug, used mostly in solid and two-tone colors. Smyrna, double-faced, cut pile formed by weft of chenille cords; thick, but inexpensive, without seam. Rag carpet, no pile, body formed by thick weft, without seam. Grass and fiber, rag carpet weave. Piece-printed tapestries and velvets are woven plain and printed after weaving.