Your Guide to Buying a Vintage Rug
As vintage rugs come roaring back to popularity, many people find themselves unsure of what to look for. No longer resigned to sit under plastic-covered sofas, vintage rugs now decorate even the most hip and modern dwellings. Adding a level of character, warmth, and style to a room, vintage rugs are an investment that caters to class and will last for generations.
Clear Your Mind
When it comes to finding the perfect vintage rug, you first need to approach the search with an open mind. Handmade vintage rugs are one-of-a-kind pieces of art, and it is doubtful that you will find one that perfectly matches that “rug-spiration” you saw on Pinterest. One helpful tip is to narrow down the style, whether tribal, geometric, or traditional, and the color palette. Keep a folder of rugs you love and refer back to it for inspiration, but understand that your rug will be unique and vibrant, not just a copycat.
Taking accurate measurements, not just of the room but also the area you want your rug to cover, will help to narrow down your options. Whether you are looking for a rug that fills most of the room or one that rests under the legs of the bed, knowing what your end goal is will be essential. We recommend avoiding wall-to-wall coverage, as this takes away from the relationship with the wood flooring beneath and too closely resembles carpeting. Instead, keep your rug 6”-12” away from the wall, and experiment with different placements to see how it will fit with your furniture.
Nothing is Perfect, and That’s a Good Thing!
Since vintage rugs are commonly handwoven pieces, their sizing may not be a perfect shape or conform to standard sizing. This is because their size is dependent on the loom that they were constructed with. While you may not find the exact dimensions you are searching for, you have plenty of options for making it work. If you find the perfect rug but it is too small or not the right shape, consider layering multiple rugs to fill the space and create a dynamic look. In addition, you can combine materials such as cotton and jute to create more interesting textures, movements, and color combinations.
Where Are You From?
When it comes to location, the origin of your vintage rug will tell a story and give you plenty of insight into its construction. The Middle East produces some of the highest quality handmade vintage rugs, with many coming out of Turkey. With centuries of experience woven into the fabric of their traditions and history, Turkey produces some of the finest vintage rugs on the market. Another excellent source for vintage rugs is Iran, makers of the Persian rug. Known for their rich colors and exciting designs, they are crafted with all-natural fibers such as wool and silk and are highly durable.
Handwoven over Machine-made
For an authentic vintage charm, look for handwoven rugs. Machine-made rugs may be more affordable, but they lack the durability, attention to detail, and intimate character that can only be found in handwoven rugs. Check the back of your rug for perfect weaving, which is a sign that a machine-made your rug. If the fringe is sewn on, that’s another clear indication that this rug was not handmade. Many companies try different tricks to make a machine-woven rug appear vintage by using different chemicals and washes. For the ultimate vintage experience, check that the rug uses hand-spun yarn. This yarn is dyed in small batches, which allows the dye to be absorbed differently and will create a unique watercolor, or “abrash,” effect.
Love the Fade
A vintage rug will not fade evenly, especially if it is handmade. These irregularities and weathering patterns contribute to the personality of the rug and give you a unique piece that is full of history. Significant fading, especially in high traffic areas, is a sign of quality and craftsmanship. While you don’t want a rug where the pattern is no longer distinguishable, finding a vintage rug that shows its age adds immense character.
Ask Questions and Learn
Authentic vintage rug sellers are a rare breed. They not only take pride in their inventory, but they want to match their clients with the perfect rug and do so using knowledge and experience. The more information you can get on a rug, the more you will appreciate the rich history you are inviting into your space. Where is it from? How was it made? How was the fabric dyed? The more questions you ask and your dealer can answer, the more confidence you will have in purchasing that unique, authentic vintage rug.