A Brief History of Shag Carpets

Possessing their own distinctive appearance and design aesthetic, shag rugs have become synonymous with 1960s’ culture and fashion. Despite falling out of favor with homeowners for several decades, they’re now experiencing a resurgence, and appearing in more and more homes throughout the nation.Blue Banquette

This is a brief overview of the history, materials, popularity, and maintenance of the shag rug.


Some historians believe they originated in the Middle East and Central Asia, occupying everything from opulent palaces to more modest living spaces. Others claim shag rugs made from goats first graced the floors of humanity as far back as Ancient Greece, although no one has seemingly managed to come to a collective educated conclusion regarding its place of inception.


Your generic shag rug is comprised of a deep pile (a raised fabric surface made of loops of yarn) with long yarn fibers that give it a truly shaggy and haggard appearance. The exact materials run the gamut from cotton to wool to leather. Shag carpeting often comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

Rise in Popularity in American Culture

Shag found its place in mainstream society during the counterculture movements of the 1960s. Its unorthodox appearance, comfort, and tendency to sport gaudy colors made it a popular household item across America.  Due to the decade in which it rose into prominence, shag rugs are often directly associated with the hippie movement and viewed as a symbol of a bygone era.


Nowadays, consumers have demonstrated renewed interest in shag. Despite lying relatively dormant for a few decades, its reemergence has allowed it be translated into a bevy of styles, from traditional hippie dishevelment to silky contemporary. These variant forms of shag are carried by many rug and furniture vendors across the nation, and are finding their way into more and more store inventories every day. If properly executed, shag can nicely complement a room and add an additional element to it.


Like any household items, shag carpets require occasional cleaning.  However, they do possess the dubious distinction of being arguably the most difficult rugs to maintain due to their mass of fibers. It’s recommended to clean your shag carpet twice a week with a suction-only vacuum, which will help prevent dirt buildup and ensure it retains its natural coloring. Grooming rakes are handy tools when it comes to shagging maintenance. Requesting a professional cleaning can also be an effective albeit expensive solution.


Shag is back. But let’s be honest: it never really left. It’s unique, starts conversations, and ultimately is very comfortable. They are the perfect rug, especially if you liked the 70’s. The necessary maintenance can be a pain, but it’s essential if you want it to remain a feast for the eyes as opposed to an eyesore. With a bevy of traditional and contemporary styles, shag rugs are back and here to stay.

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Erin Emanuel


  1. Iconic ’60s furnishing, eh? I would have thought the ’50s, with its post-war decorative wildness. I can see one (aquamarine) under a glass coffee table,..and cut to match.

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