The shag rug has endured many insults and stereotypes over the past three decades, some deserved and some unfair. As a staple of the late 1970's design, the shag style was often upheld in the 1990's as a symbol of all that went wrong with aesthetics during the era of stadium rock. When cheaply made versions of shag carpet were showing up as wall coverings, sound-proof panels, and seat covers for vans, we had achieved an overdose of that textile, which then required a period of abstinence. Now that the shag rug is making a reappearance in some innovative home design catalogs, perhaps we can approach it with fairness and moderation.

To be fair, a shag carpet is not so unlike other carpets, except that its woven pattern allows the material to contain two levels. Like a fluffy towel, shag carpet has a relatively dense fabric base as one of its elements, and another level of fiber that consists of individual fingers, tines, or "pile." The pile element of this carpet differs from the Berber style rug, where fabric is looped tightly to the base. The degree of shagginess in the rug is determined by the length and flow of the pile. The fingers or tines of a shag rug usually look like individually twisted yarns or small ropes. The overall effect of weaving the base and the pile separately is to create two intermingled textures; one feels like crushed blades of grass, or vertical shafts of fabric, and the other a firm underground to bind the fibers horizontally. Whereas plush carpet fibers were very compressible a few years ago, newer blends of natural and synthetic fibers have more ability to "bounce back," offering more wearability in the updated shag fibers.

So far, there is nothing inherently outdated with this design. A well-made shag carpet usually has a rubberlike synthetic backing that holds in place a mixture of wool, cotton, acrylic and other fibers. If you can easily pull fibers out of the pile, try another brand. The shag style has an advantage over other carpets in that the human foot feels surrounded and indulged when standing on it, due to its uniquely stimulating texture. This type of rug can be brushed to replicate the look and feel of tousled hair or coarse, slightly-tangled fir. Thus, the newly-liberated sensuality of the 1970's in America seemed to crave this hair-like decorating trend, to the point of overdoing it.

To best utilize an updated shag rug for an eclectic 2010 appearance, some elements of the earlier psychedelic look ought to be avoided. The two-tone effect, where an olive-toned fiber and a tangerine orange yarn are blended, for example, can be dropped entirely. The newer shag rugs are dramatic in their plush pile, and therefore not in need of any neon colors. You might see a modern example of a room with many cool and metallic textures, such as wrought-iron chairs, beveled mirrors, glass tables, and slate tiles, with one neutral-toned area rug that hints of the shag style. One plush textile can offer the needed contrast in this scenario, by inviting the viewer towards a focal point, such as the sofa.

A Washable shag rug is comforting in the bathroom, where fresh pastels are rejuvenating to the eye. In the living room, a small area rug under a coffee table can be very inviting to the feet. The shag texture A Modern Shag Rugcombines a feeling of cozy warmth and playfulness that is welcome in any age, with or without stadium rock. From a practical standpoint, the unique pile of this rug can absorb a great deal of moisture and dirt without significantly changing its appearance. With a one-minute shake of the rug outside, dirt is released easily, and the fibers stand up again; a convenient rejuvenation. As an accent piece on top of floors or flatter, denser carpets, a small shag brings softness wherever you want to tame a room that has too many hard edges. As a reward for its warmth, durability, and cozy texture, maybe we can say to the updated shag rug, "Nice to see you again, old friend."