Natural look of sisal popular in decors ranging from casual to elegant.
Sisal carpeting was the poor man’s wall-to-wall in the 1940s and 1950s.
This rough, woven material has been around for years – and a well-placed piece can complete a space.
It is made with fibres from the Mexican agave plant. Sisal has a strong, textured appearance and is extremely hard wearing. It comes in natural straw colours or can be dyed. As an area rug , is often bordered in colourful fabric to co-ordinate with other furnishings.
You will see sisal flooring used from inexpensive mats over tile and hardwood floors right up to room-sized carpeting in the most formal settings.
Like Berber before it, sisal evolving into a look.
The name no longer refers only to the original, natural material. Dozens of sisal substitutes have appeared on the market, manufactured in wool, wool blends and sturdy synthetics. These lookalikes offer the softness and easy maintenance of traditional carpeting in low-pile, sisal patterns.
The substitutes attempt to overcome the inherent drawbacks of natural vegetable fibre carpets (the vegetable group includes sisal, jute, coir and seagrass). While they look fabulous and help create a casual, trendy atmosphere, these vegetable materials tend to stain and are difficult to clean.
Some are also uncomfortably rough to touch, particularly coir, which is made from coconut husks. The look of real sisal can be great, but the function can be awful. I remember my father installing sisal carpets in high-traffic areas such as rumpus rooms, hallways and staircases. It is really hard, and almost scratchy and if you fell you would skin your knees on the stuff.
The best-selling sisal look-alikes are made from wool. The most popular sister to sisal in the vegetable family is jute, which comes in lots of patterns and colours but has the disadvantage of going fuzzy and being hard to clean. At the same time, seagrass is the softest to the touch and the one with the most obvious wider weave.
If you think the casual look isn’t suitable for your home, look through your home decor magazines. Sisal and other woven grass carpets are being juxtaposed with elegant wood furnishings in the most traditional room settings. Sisal is a material where form and function come together.
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