There are some things I know a lot about. This list includes; Star Wars, cats, how to deescalate interpersonal conflict, iced coffee, and navy. Not the navy. Just navy. When it comes to interior design, I am a hobbyist at best. I basically see things I like online and do my damnedest to recreate other people’s ideas in my own home. Mimicry at it’s finest. You want to know what everyone has in their homes that I really really like? Vintage rugs. Guess what I know absolutely nothing about. Buying vintage rugs. Total newb alert. Frankly, the only thing I know about buying vintage rugs was that I wanted to buy them. Simple really.
Perfection. Even in the kitchen.
I knew it’d be expensive and complicated but I wasn’t entirely aware of HOW complicated and expensive. I started with some internet research to get a sense of what kind of trouble I was getting myself into. Here’s a primer of what I learned:
- The rugs I liked were largely considered “geometric styles” and had more modern and graphic edges than the more floral and medallion-y variety.
- These rugs were hand knotted, made of wool, and frequently have obvious signs of age in abrash (color variation) and pile height (how soft vs. how flat).
- The rugs I was learning towards were Persian and they were identified by the different regions they were made in with shiraz, hamadan, gharajeh, tabriz, heriz, botemir, and qashgai becoming some of my favorite styles.
- More neutral rugs tended to be in higher demand than their bolder counterparts and fetched a higher price tag.
- Vintage rugs are expensive. Antique rugs? More expensive. Screw antique rugs.
Pretty quickly I realized that brick and mortar stores (hi ABC Home and Carpet) and fancy internet shops were more than out of my price range. Ideally I wanted to purchase 4 (maybe 5?) rugs for the house: 2 6×9 ft rugs (bedroom, foyer), a smaller runner (foyer hallway), larger runner (kitchen), and big mamajama (9×12 ft) for the living room. And while I convinced Danny to allot some money to our rug budget (it was in our board agreement that we cover 80% of the hardwood after all, #scapegoat) we weren’t exactly looking to drop $1,500 on a single rug. More like $1,500 for all of them.
I like a good challenge.
Thus begins the montage sequence me scrolling endlessly through eBay hunting for the PERFECT rug at the PERFECT price. Disheveled hair, thousand yard gaze, and a Gatorade bottle full of urine. After a few weeks of research I felt that I had a pretty good understanding of what was available and a dawning realization that everyone around me (Danny) wanted me to stop talking about rugs. That being said I still hadn’t bid on a single one. Just a whole lot of putting rugs in shopping carts and taking them out. Good exercise, if this was meatspace.
Finally I bid on a rug.
And lost of course. By $200. This was going to be a very long, very tedious process unless I switched up my game plan. Guess what? I’m not much of an auction person. Auctions are for people that are great at making split second decisions and coping with buyers remorse. I’m not good at any of that. I like to mull on things. Fixate. Chew on. Who needs a ticking clock and competition with internet weirdos? Buy it now, it is!
I knew that the living room rug would be the most expensive (d’oh) and important so I centered my search around that one. I wanted something that was low pile, well worn, and had softer tones.
This rug had a stellar price ($650) and had the age and softness (80 years!) I was looking for. The rug had abrash which was probably why it was cheaper than others with it’s age/style but that didn’t bother me. It’s an handmade 80 year old rug. If you want perfect then go buy new stuff.
With that rug firmly in the cart the others fell into place in short order. I purchased two 6×9 rugs, and a tiny runner. I liked that these rugs had similar designs and complementary colors ranging from blush to deep burgundy, lavender, and indigo.
So I did it. I clicked the button. I was $1,380 poorer and I had 4 rugs to show for it. Yes a lot of money. But all rugs are a lot of money and I really liked the idea of viewing these as investment pieces and works of art. At least that’s what I’m telling myself so that I can sleep at night. I purchased them on a Sunday morning (fun surprise for Danny to wake up too!) and they were here by Wednesday which is nothing other than a feat of modern day shipping.
The rugs bring so much warmth to the space. Beforehand I was worried that things were looking too cold and unfinished. Adding the rugs gave each room a jolt of personality and a coziness which you would expect from well, a rug. They’re gorgeous to look at and yet neutral enough that they don’t overwhelm the space.
Am I pleased? Very. Was buying vintage rugs daunting? Indeed. Obviously a more discerning, experienced rug shopper could probably say that I was taken for a ride and that these rugs were actually woven by cats in Omaha but from where I’m standing (on them) they look like the real thing. They add texture and age. The best thing I can say about them is that the second we unrolled them and put them in place they looked like they had always been there. Which is exactly what I wanted.
But there’s no way I’m ever putting one of these in the kitchen. That’s insane.