Capel braided rugs a tribute to American ingenuity

A sample of a Capel braided rug, one of many in our sample library at Panoply.

Some 97 years ago, a North Carolina man who produced plow lines from cotton yarn, A. Leon Capel, realized that the invention of a mechnical tractor meant his business model needed to change. Recognizing that the days of plowing with a mule were coming to an end, Capel took the materials from his Gee-Haw Plowline company and fashioned them into braids that were then sewn in a spiral design to make braided rugs.

Capel was the first company to mass-produce braided rugs, which were similar to the rugs American settlers made from scraps of clothing or other fabric. Richard Capel, director of manufacturing for Capel Rugs and grandson of the founder, recently told Furniture Today magazine that “the braided rug product is just as functional now as it was then. Back then, it was used primarily to cover holes in the floors of the pioneers’ buildings. That kept the cold air out and at some point, they figured out they could add colors and textures to them to enhance the home.”

Today’s braided rugs are more likely to be used simply for their beauty, according to Cameron Capel, the company’s vice president of national accounts and granddaughter of Leon Capel. Contemporary braided rugs come in a much greater variety of styles and colors than the American settlers would have seen. While the oval braided rug is a classic design, braided rugs can also be rectangular, with primarily solids or stripes. Multicolor oval rugs now feature contemporary color palettes as well as primarily solid colors with perhaps a single accent color around the edge. If you’d like to see a video about Capel’s braided rugs and how they are created, click here. Capel Rugs is among the lines we carry at Panoply Interior Design, and we’ll be happy to assist you if you’d like to find the perfect Capel rug for your home.

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