ON SOLID GROUND

by CONNIE DUFNER

PAIGE SOWDEN GOT THE RUG BUG as a young girl, answering phones and ironing labels at her parents’ carpet business, Interior Resources. Growing up, family dinners out would include commentary on the restaurant carpets by her parents, company founders Merikay and Jack Green. Sowden and her brother, Evan Green, were always being educated about flooring through their parents’ passion for the business.

For Sowden, her love for the work was so strong that when she left for college, she knew she would return after graduation, which she did in 1997. While at the University of Texas, she’d call on designers and bring them samples to review. Even though her major was marketing, she says: “I’ve always been interested in the design aspect of the business. The creativity involved when selecting carpets or rugs for your designer’s project is energizing.” Today, she’s the company’s rug buyer and works the custom side of the business.

Green, her partner and brother, has found his niche on the carpet-buying side of the business. He specializes in product selection, manages the installation crews and handles the accounting.

Together, they have developed a system that works for the company’s second generation of leadership. Their parents retired four years ago. The family affair continues with Sowden’s teenagers, who are periodically called into service at the showroom.

Since the business started in 1975, it has evolved from commercial carpets to designer rugs and custom creations. Sowden’s passion for hand-knotted, unique textiles has fueled the company’s growth as a rug dealer. With an artist on staff, Interior Resources has the expertise to both create its own collections and guide a designer through the process of creating a one-of-a-kind rug for their project. “Helping our designers discover the perfect quality, design and colors for their clients is extremely rewarding,” Sowden says. “We start with art and a few color poms and end with a fabulous rug that brings the entire room together.”

Sowden and Green say they are blessed with wonderful staff and clientele. The majority of their staff has worked together for more than 20 years. “Our salespeople and staff normally retire with us,” Sowden says. “Working together for so many years gives our company environment the feel of a true family.”

The 13,000-square-foot, trade-only showroom is very spacious and breath-able, making it easy to see the enormous selection of carpets and rugs, says Sowden. The rug inventory leans to modern, with plenty of variety in textures and styles. “We are loving the designer’s trend toward using texture on the floor. With sheepskin, abaca, alo, alpaca and other varieties of products, the floor comes alive with personality,” she says. These treatments are especially striking in modern rooms with a minimalist aesthetic or as a pop of modern in a more traditional room.

Sowden says she is proud of the company’s reputation for quality product selection, exclusive collections and one-of-a-kind pieces. “Working with the trade for 20-plus years has built my personality toward rug buying. I prefer to show products that are a little more edgy, more out of the box,” she says.

Over the years, Sowden has seen lots of change in how customers and designers approach rugs and carpets. She says, “Hand-knotted rugs are luxury items that bring an entire room together, so starting with rug selection first has been a trend we can get behind wholeheartedly.”

Another recent development is using outdoor fibers for inside the home. “Many times, we can adapt a pattern from an indoor rug to more durable textiles, like acrylic or colorfast polypropylene yarn. It is a great way to protect the investment in an expensive handmade rug. Being able to clean it easily is a huge asset,” Sowden says.

Next is layering. With open-concept rooms creating larger spaces to fill, she’s seeing the use of rugs to connect parts of the room. Sowden says, “We are seeing designers connect the space using one large sisal rug as a backdrop, and then layer individual rugs on top to differentiate the conversation areas.”

Sowden is especially proud of the company’s relationship with GoodWeave, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending child labor in global supply chains. “We are importing through GoodWeave with companies that ensure they’re not using child labor,” she states. “It has given us and our designers a sense of security, knowing they are buying quality pieces made in a humane manner. Creating a beautiful product for ‘work’ is great, but when you are assured the best possible practices go into making your product ‘work,’ it becomes passion. GoodWeave allows us to feel good about the products we sell.”

Freelance writer and editor Connie Dufner is a proud Texan transplant living in Washington, D.C. She is a former editor for Modern Luxury Dallas and The Dallas Morning News who has been covering interiors journalism since 2001.