Modern Rugs Take Center Stage

A look at recent interior design trends will tell you: modern rugs are having a moment. To get the scoop on the evolution of modern tastes and what makes a great rug, we chat with Liz Vehko of long-time Cherry Creek staple Shaver-Ramsey Fine & Custom Rugs.

After nearly half a century in Cherry Creek, Shaver-Ramsey Fine & Custom Rugs has seen trends come and go. So what’s hot for 2021? “We are getting a lot of interest in colorful rugs, not only our modern collection but also our contemporary selections,” says Liz Vehko, partner at Shaver-Ramsey. 

Shaver-Ramsey hasn’t always been in the modern rug game. When the small showroom opened at the corner of 3rd and Josephine in 1976, founders Paul Ramsey and Carolyn Shaver only imported textiles from South America and flat-woven rugs from Afghanistan. Over the years, however, the showroom has expanded its offerings to accommodate changing tastes, now offering modern, contemporary, traditional, and transitional rugs as well as textiles from all over the world. 

Some of Shaver-Ramsey's more modern rug offerings.

Along with an expansion of inventory, Shaver-Ramsey has also made several shifts in their physical space over the years. A remodel of their showroom on 3rd and Josephine brought their space to 7,000 square feet, from which Shaver-Ramsey operated for 42 years. But when their property was slated to be redeveloped in 2018, “we couldn’t imagine leaving Cherry Creek North,” says Vehko, who joined Shaver-Ramsey in 1998 and became partner three years later upon Shaver’s retirement. So the showroom moved just blocks away to the corner of 6th Avenue and Fillmore Street. “We love being surrounded by some of the best neighborhoods in Denver and have grown with the generations of clients who have lived there through the years,” says Vehko. “It is fun to have someone come in shopping for rugs now that relays stories about how they jumped on our rug stacks as a child growing up.”

In 2018, Shaver-Ramsey moved its showroom to the corner of 6th and Fillmore.

While tastes continue to evolve, so too do people’s relationships with their rugs. “When I started in the business, people purchased rugs for a lifetime, even to hand down to their children,” says Vehko. “Now, rugs are largely bought based on the design fashions of the times. Modern or contemporary rugs are at the forefront of what people want, even if that means a more traditionally designed rug but with a fresh, modern palette.”

So what differentiates a traditional from a modern or contemporary rug? “While traditional and contemporary rugs are both made with the same methodologies, a traditional rug is a patterned rug that usually takes its design from rugs made over 100 years ago and contemporary rugs are more modern or minimalistic in design,” says Vehko.

But regardless of visual aesthetics, every rug in the showroom meets Shaver-Ramsey’s same exacting standards for quality in terms of wool quality, dye quality and weave. “Each rug is hand-knotted and room size rugs can take anywhere from three months to twelve months to make, says Vehko. “The best ones use natural or swiss-chromium dyes with hand-spun or mill-spun wool.”

As the year begins to wind down, no one knows what fresh trends 2022 will bring in the world of floor coverings. But whatever they are, Shaver-Ramsey’s stalwart Denver presence will make sure local designers have what they need to ride the design tides.