Inside: Learn all about finding the perfect antique Persian rug for your home.
Who knew you could spend more on a rug than on your first car!
The antique rug market is alive and booming thanks to a resurgence in vintage home decor over the last few years.
And I can’t blame anyone. Who wouldn’t want to have a beautiful, heirloom quality carpet that brings instant charm and class to a room?
I’ve been on the lookout for the perfect vintage rug for my living room and let me tell you it’s information overload!
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Today I’m condensing it down and sharing it with you in this ultimate rug buying guide.
Click on any of the image topics to go directly to that section.
Basic Rug Terminology
Here are some of the most important terms to know when talking about rugs.
- Antique Rug: Rugs that are over 80 years old.
- Flat Weave: A type of weaving where no knots are made. The weft fibers are simply intertwined with the warp fibers.
- Fringe: The ends of the warp threads that are loose on both sides of the rug.
- Medallion: The center design on a rug.
- Pile: The top of the rug, where the knots were cut to form the surface of the rug.
- Pile Knot: Fibers that are looped around the warp and sandwiched in between the wefts; they come in several different types of configurations.
- Vintage Rug: Rugs between 50 and 80 years old.
- Warp: The lengthwise fibers on the loom that comprise the foundation of a rug.
- Weft: The widthwise fibers that loop over or under the warp fibers to create the foundation of a rug.
Types of Antique Rugs
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- Kazak: The Kazak rug is known for its rich colors, large-scale designs, and bold overall appearance . They featured guls, geometric patterns, animals, medallions and more.
- Heriz: These rugs are from the Heris area of northwest Iran. Heriz rugs often have a large diamond shaped medallion in the center of the rug and a rectangular outline with foliage in the cornerpieces. They’re known for their bold style and extra durability (due to the extra copper intake of the sheep in the area).via Huntt Rugs
- Hamadan: This type of rug is crafted in and nearby the city of Hamadan in Iran. Because of the vast number of places producing this style of rug, Hamadan rugs have numerous patterns and materials, although all of them share symmetric knots and dense weaving. Designs of Hamadan rug include Herati patterns, geometrics, medallions and more. They’re frequently found in rich shades of red and navy blue.via Gilt
- Balouch: A carpet originally made by the Baluch nomads (an area of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan), the Baluch rug often has a pronounced tribal feel to it with its use of geometry and medallion pattern. Balouch rugs usually feature deep reds, rust reds, dark blues, beiges and occasionally blacks as well. They’re also known for their use of the tree of life pattern.
- These rugs were made in and around Morocco by nomadic people and tribes. Moroccan rugs vary vastly in pile height and weight; the thick, heavy piles were used in the cold climates while the lightweight, flat-woven rugs were used in the hot climates. Unlike Persian rugs, many Moroccan rugs have loose, non-symmetrical patterns. They range in color from neutral beiges to bright yellows, oranges, reds and more.
- Kilim rugs are a type of textile that are produced by a flatweave technique (unlike carpet/pile rugs). They often use a slit weave technique which produces small slits in the carpet when one color of the rug ends and another begins. Kilim rugs have been made in various regions of the world including Turkey, China, Morocco, Iran, Pakistan, North Africa and more.
- Dhurries are a type of textile originating in India. They are weft-faced (which means you can only see the horizontally running threads and not the base vertically running threads) and they have no pile or backing so they are reversible. Dhurries are generally more casual in appearance and traditionally used patterns that were simple in appearance like stripes, geometrics shapes and simple florals.
- Oushak: These rugs are a type of Turkish rug that are always woven with the Ghiordes knot (this type of knot has the weft weaving over two warps and then pulled into the center and cut). These rugs were traditionally found in shades of reds, oranges, and yellows along with ivory, blues, and grays. Todays Oushak rugs tend to be prized for their pastel coloring. Oushak rugs generally have geometric patterns and botanical elements such as leaves, vines, and flowers. Today they’re often found in traditionally styled homes.
What To Look For When Buying Antique Rugs
There are as many things to look for in an antique rug as there are hipsters at the local coffee shop. Below are some of the key points to look for before shelling out your hard earned cash:
Condition of the Wool
Scratch the surface of the rug with your hand and examine it. There should be no to very little wool fibers on it. The more wool that comes off, the worse the quality is. The wool should also be soft, smoother and have somewhat of a luster.
Type of Dye
Antique rugs were originally made with vegetable dyes, while newer rugs use synthetic dyes. One way to tell the difference is to look at the variation in colors of the rug; Synthetic dyes have less variation, depth, and don’t get an aged, patina look to them. Faux aging will look beige or washed out.
Examine the Edges
Antique carpets with frayed edging are expensive to repair and can result in unraveling. Most often, this is a deal breaker unless you’re looking to invest a lot of money into the rug’s repair.
Roll the Rug
If an antique rug was dyed improperly it will make a cracking noise and feel overly stiff because the fibers have rotted.
Flip the Rug Over
Woven rugs will have the same design on the front and back. Hand woven rugs are the most desirable, but well-constructed machine woven rugs are also good. If you flip the rug over and it has a different material on the back, it is not woven.
Where To Buy Antique Rugs
- EsaleRugs: They have a great selection of antique rugs and often run sales so check back frequently. I’ve also seen them participate in Gilt sales.
- Klim.com: One of my personal favorites, Kilim.com has great prices on a variety of antique and vintage rugs.
- 1stdibs.com: An extremely high-quality curated site featuring treasures from around the world. They generally have a higher price point than the others but superb quality.
- Ebth.com: Everything but the house is an online estate sale auction website which is a gold mine of vintage items. Every time I look they have antique rugs and they honestly list any problems or flaws in the rugs. Always check the shipping quote before bidding; If it’s a large rug and it’s located across the country shipping can be quite expensive.
- Ebay.com: Finding the perfect antique rug on eBay is like trying to find . They are there, but you’re going to need to do some serious digging. Studio Mcgee compiled a great post on their favorite eBay (and Etsy) shops for vintage rugs.
- Etsy.com: Similar to eBay, Etsy has worldwide sellers of antique and vintage rugs. Set aside some time each day to see the newest listing and eventually you’re sure to find something you love.
- Charish.com: Charish is like the craigslist site for vintage furniture and decor, although because of its highly curated items, Charish’s prices are often much higher than the other sites listed here.
Do you have any additional tips to add? Let me know in the comments below.