By Jennifer Alexis
Rainbow-bright color, budget-friendly prices, and fun patterns and design motifs are driving sales of accent rugs, which continue to fill an important niche in the overall rug market.
Small, inexpensive, easy to clean and easy to change out, accent rugs are often the perfect solution for consumers looking to quickly add a little life to a room, entryway or hallway. Manufacturers are meeting that demand by offering vibrantly colored rugs featuring eye-catching patterns and motifs, such as sun and sea and woodland lodge.
At retail, accent rugs have another strong and positive attribute—they make for great impulse buys.
Renee Ringstad, vice president of merchandising for Cresc Corp.—the parent company of brands such as Homefires Rugs, Jellybean and Tango Shag—said the combination of the design, color and theme of a rug can come together to inspire impulse purchases.
“We select great designs with themes that grab the consumer’s emotions,” she said. “It’s the ‘isn’t that cute’ response that we are looking for and fortunately, we get it quite a lot.”
Most designers and manufacturers agree that the first element of a rug that will catch the consumer’s eye will be its color. Angela Adams, creative director of Angela Adams, said customers crave mood-lifting color and comfort when shopping for their homes, and this is particularly true in the coldest months of year.
“As people hunker down for the winter months and a slow economy, the home becomes a very important place to rest, to plan and to share time with friends and family,” she said. “As the days get shorter, the desire for color and coziness takes priority.”
Company C—the motto of which is “designs for colorful living”—doesn’t shy away from using vivid, happy coloring in its rug designs. Among its latest introductions is its Sachi Pink accent rug in a girly, ballerina pink and brown design. Kristi Lefebvre, marketing manager for Company C, said a portion of the sales will go toward supporting breast cancer awareness, research and education. And that is only one of several vibrantly colored hooked rugs the company has introduced this year.
The company is not alone in its assessment that bright color is hot in this segment. Carol Antone, creative director of Peking Handicraft, said “splashy, fun” colors either worked tonally or grounded with black, white or ivory are strong and are the perfect complement to current design trends.
Antone reports that the clean, global looks in saturated colors, as well as the resurrection of the decor aesthetics of the 1960s, are important design motifs this year. Peking Handicraft’s newest patterns are faux bois—wood-grain patterns—over-scaled florals in strong colors and retro designs.
“In our newest designer collection, ‘Trina Turk Residential,’ we have some amazing retro looks inspired by Palm Springs [Florida] and resort living,” Antone said.
Nature and geographical settings are common design themes but ones that can be interpreted in countless ways, be it literal, graphic expressions or more subtly through color or texture that calls to mind nature’s elements.
“For us, it’s always about natural beauty and the peaceful shapes and colors found in nature—such as beach rocks, seaweed, the sunset and the landscape,” Adams said.
The company’s new Rosa Rugosa rug is named for the flower that inspired its design. “Rosa rugosas line the rocky coast of Maine,” she explained. “I grew up picking the rosehips for my grandmother’s jelly. They are an important part of the Maine seascape and we celebrate them in bold, fresh colors.”
Another Angela Adams design is Betty, a less literal graphic interpretation that instead evokes the natural world through texture. “Betty is a beautiful natural texture that reminds me of tree bark or pine cones,” Adams said.
Fortunately, since not every consumer is apt to respond to every motif, nature is a more than a worthy muse that provides ample design inspiration to appeal to various tastes. Homefires is taking inspiration from various nature settings, as well as animals.
“We find that design motifs relating to ‘beach life’ sell very well. However, for people with homes in the mountains, lodge motifs do better,” Ringstad said. “Traditional iconic images—black bears, sandals, cats, dogs, etc.—always sell better than some new trend.”
At prices that can come way under $100, accent rugs are also among the most economical ways for consumers to add a splash of color to their decor, and the relatively low price points of these products may be a particularly great selling point in 2009.
“Consumers that are feeling the pinch of an unsure economy are still willing to pay $39.99 for a quality product,” Ringstad added.
Peking Handicraft’s Antone is also confident that consumers will continue to appreciate opportunities to decorate and accessorize their homes without breaking a lean budget.
“We believe that with the soft economy, customers will look for small rugs that pack a lot of design punch to update their lifestyles and bring in some added fun to their store’s mix,” she said.