Outdoor Decor

The new Montego collection from CMI will be one of its higher-end outdoor introductions. colonialmills.com

The new Montego collection from CMI will be one of its higher-end outdoor introductions. colonialmills.com

By Andrea Lillo

With consumers’ continued love of nature—and fresh air—their attention to the backyards has resulted in a shift in the indoor/outdoor rug category to better designed product.

With the category’s more sophisticated styling, manufacturers find that these rugs are going inside the home as well, as they are perfect for kitchens or dens, or where the kids and pets play, due to the rugs’ durability.

But there’s no denying that people are treating their outdoor area like an extension of their living space.

The backyard is “a room like any other room,” said Pat Moyer, president, sales and marketing, area rugs division, Balta. “People are spending more time outside, and they’re willing to invest more. Outdoor rugs have become a necessity.”

And all that attention on the category has resulted in better designed rugs. “We only design pretty rugs,” said Joe Barkley, executive vice president, Kaleen. “We didn’t set out to do outdoor rugs, we just had the base to do so.”

Come January, Kaleen will bow another collection of outdoor: A line of polypropylene braids that will be less than $199 for a 5-by-8. “It was a logical extension of what we are already doing,” said Barkley. Its existing Home & Porch line is “successful because the product doesn’t look like traditional outdoor rugs,” but is a premium, well-designed product.

And that’s key, as indoor/outdoor rugs are more focused on design, colors and style now. “Customers are willing to pay more for the right colors and design and they understand the versatility of an outdoor rug,” said Lynne Minchello, marketing director, CMI. The outdoor business has become more significant for CMI, which has switched yarns of some of its existing collections to types of polypropylene—air-entangled, naturalized, chenilled—to make them durable for outdoor environments as well.

Some manufacturers find that consumers are more adventerous outdoors with their colors, and want bold hues. The vibrant colors of Company C seem ready-made for the outdoors, for example, and now they are available, as the company just launched its indoor/outdoor line at the recent High Point Market. Retailers have been asking Company C for an outdoor line for years, a spokesperson said.

The line is made with polyester in a hooked construction, similar to its indoor wool hooked line. Eight designs are in the initial launch, and include colorways new to Company C: key lime, strawberry daiquiri, lemonade, java and pool. In stock late January, the line will retail for $48 for a 2-by-3 to $725 for an 8-by-11.

“We tend to get a little ‘funkier’ when designing outdoor rugs,” said CMI’s Minchello. “Our customers like the vibrant, playful colors and feel they can be more risqué when designing their outdoor spaces.”

While having product that can retail at $199 is a must, CMI will also introduce a higher end collection in January, called Montego, a flat-braid, contoured rectangle collection in six colorways. “The focus of this collection is on the design and color, not the price,” said Minchello. But the company also has collections of warmer neutrals to coordinate with any decor, she said.

Balta’s Moyer sees naturals as the area for growth in this category, and new colors for 2011 will include hues of gold, brown and soft gray, as well as paprika and charcoal for some pop. “We make sure we’re matching the patio furniture trends—we know rugs are never the first thing purchased in the room, so we need to know what’s going on in furniture and other categories,” he said. More shaped rugs, such as squares and—due to all of the round bistro sets—rounds, are also gaining ground. For the channels that Balta targets, a 5-by-7 or 5-by-8 rug still has to retail for less than $99, he added.

Surya introduced its Portera group at High Point, a machine-made line with polypropylene cut and loop pile and polypropylene backing. Surya can do up to seven colors in a design, said Pat Douglass, vice president of printed rugs, and the collection was well received at High Point. However, “most of our customers did not just see them as outdoor rugs,” he said. “They saw them as versatile enough to be used indoors, especially in the kitchen.”

With almost 100 SKUs in seven indoor/outdoor collections available, Couristan will expand that category even more in January. Outdoor Escape will be one group, with a novelty appeal in a handhooked construction, and with such patterns as beach landscapes, lighthouses, and sea shells. The 100 percent recyclable Five Seasons line is another group, made in Turkey of Courtron polypropylene.