Rugs are one of my favorite designing accessories, but Steer hides are my ultimate rug accessory. I love combining them with other elements and really creating a layered look. They provide texture, depth and gravity to a room. I am also a huge fan of making a room feel organic and a steer hide is all sorts of perfect for that.
What most people don’t know is that not all rugs should be treated equally. Most do not look or feel the same and there is a vast price difference. I sat down with one of my favorite rug importers, Furug, to talk shop with the owner, Aaron Salter, about price, quality and competition; and to get serious answers to my burning questions.
What is the difference, and what should we look for?
Contrary to what most people think, not all cowhides are the same. A lot of cowhides on the market are dull and stiff. The best source for high quality cowhides, like those that furug provides, are not from Florida, Texas, or even Mexico; like most hides in the US are. Our hides are from Brazil which is known worldwide for having the best tanning process.
Why is tanning important?
Quality tanning is extremely important when selecting a hide. Brazil’s tanning process dates back to 1858 and is more expensive than typical processes found anywhere else. This tanning process makes the hide more supple, more resistant, gives it a beautiful shine and properly tanned hides will last a lifetime compared to inexpensive domestic ones that will typically fall apart, and crack.
Where should quality hides be purchased from?
Always purchase hides from a small dealer instead of a big box store. A small dealer is a very important, often overlooked detail when purchasing a hide. When you see companies that say they have hundreds of cowhides, they are getting what is known as stock lots. These are a large amount of hides that are mixed together (good, bad, and ugly). Tanneries are not going to sell all of their best hides and be left with the rest that may not sell. My cowhides are hand selected for each order to ensure their quality and unique character, and we always have the best. A good quality hide will cost anywhere from $800-$900. Rugs that are less expensive are typically low in quality. Those are the ones that will fall apart and crack so remember, you can always find a cheaper hide, but you get what you pay for.
What is the best way to care for a hide?
Hides require minimal cleaning, and with proper care the hide will last a lifetime. A light vacuuming (keep the vacuum on the highest setting) will keep the hide free from dust and debris. This is important because dirt can act like sand paper and damage the rugs fibers. A soft cleaning brush can be used to brush the hides fibers in the correct laying direction and also fluff it. Often times a crease will be in the hide from storage. Lay the item out and the rug will relax after a few days.
What else do you carry?
One of our biggest sellers is our Mongolian curly lamb pillows. They are super soft, easy to care for and add a luxurious component to any chair or sofa. They contain down fills and are becoming one of our top selling items!
Thanks for taking the time to tell us more about Steer hides and your company Aaron. I have purchased many items from Aaron and the quality way surpasses the price. His hides are supple, shiny, thick, and last no matter where you put them. I have purchased inexpensive ones before to fit into a particular client’s budget and having seen one next to the other there is absolutely no comparison. It is like apples to avocados!
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