Finding The Right Antique Rug

Honestly, I must have been a rug dealer in a past life. Or at least that’s what I tell myself as the saga of rug hoarding continues in our household. My latest project? Our kitchen. I’ve been desperately searching for the perfect runner to enhance my favorite room in the house. And really, there’s nothing more comforting than having a soft, warm rug underneath your bare feet when you’re up way too early in the morning, making breakfast and packing lunches for your family. The timing couldn’t be more perfect as ABC Carpet & Home is currently hosting their annual antique rug sale. After browsing through their extensive collection, I’ve narrowed my search down to three beauties, each of which are village tribal runners and distinguished by their geometricized floral designs. I’ve also tapped their rug expert to answer some questions and concerns I had about buying an antique rug. I hope that it educates you as much as it did me. And please help me decide by letting me know which rug is your favorite!

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How would you define an antique rug? Our antique rugs are over 50 years old up to 100+ years old. An antique rug is distinguished by hand-dyed, hand spun wool that has been vegetable dyed. Artisans would pull leaves and roots from the environment to create vegetable dyed colors made from the elements boiled in water. Historically, men would shear the sheep, women would clean the wool, hand-spin it, dye it within the vat of vegetable dye and dry it in the sun.

What are some of the key elements to look for when buying an antique rug? Look for variation and variety in design when purchasing an antique rug. Antique rugs are distinguished based on their free design. Elements will never repeat perfectly. Also, search for whimsical character – antique rugs are playful, not schematic, and usually you will find elements taken from nature as inspiration in the motifs.

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Are there differences in how the rugs are made depending on provenance (i.e. Kurdish, Turkish, Persian, etc)? To the consumer’s eye – no. There is a slight variation only to the expert eye. While 90% of Antique rugs are made on the loom exactly the same, there are 10% of rugs that have a slightly different knot that is only apparent when turning the rug over and inspecting how the knot was tied.

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Can you explain why wear and tear is okay when buying an antique rug? We like to call “wear and tear” pile that has receded. An antique rug begins as a rug with a high pile and naturally, over the 100 + years, it wears down. Today, it is desirable to select a rug that has a very low pile. Designs have more clarity when the pile is lower and the color has naturally oxidized over time.

ABC Carpet & Home’s Antique Rug sale ends on May 1st. Over 1,000 rare, one-of-a-kind antique rugs sourced from around the world, and from private collectors, will be available for a limited time at up to 60% off. Highlights of the sale include special collections of Antique Heriz and Serapi rugs, mansion size rugs, rare and collectible Caucasian rugs, Turkmen carpets from Central Asia, extremely fine silk and silk and wool rugs from the best looms of Persia, as well as room size rugs at every price point.

(ABC Carpet & Home Antique Rugs available here; photography by Jen Kay; styled by Erica Chan Coffman & Bianca Sotelo; this post is sponsored by ABC Carpet & Home. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep HonestlyWTF up and running! Opinions are our our own.)

Leave a Comment

78 Comments

  1. Katie wrote:

    Beautiful! (Love your kitchen, too!) But what about maintenance?? How do you keep them clean from daily wear, and how should you deep clean them (yearly?)?

    4.13.16
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      @Katie A well made, hand loomed or knotted rug SHOULD be able to take daily wear well. You should definitely vacuum them regularly and spot clean them as needed. We usually have our rugs professionally cleaned once every other year.

      4.13.16
  2. Julie wrote:

    I’m loving this trend! I just bought a rug like this for my bathroom and it’s so great!
    Thanks for sharing.

    julie
    http://www.outstyled.com/

    4.13.16
    Reply
  3. Mette wrote:

    It looks great, but I would be worried about the hygiene part. If you actively use your kitchen – bake, cook, things get spilled… I am thinking about grease, flour, etc. I would be worried that the carpet would soon become really nasty – also from a hygiene perspective?…

    4.13.16
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      @Mette I agree that if you’re really active in the kitchen, maybe a runner/rug would not be the best idea for you. However, there is something to be said about the durability of a well made hand knotted rug that have lasted over 50+ years, some which have endured over 100+ years of wear and tear. You have to consider your use case before buying a rug AND definitely purchase one from a reliable source or retailer, like ABC!

      4.13.16
  4. Rebecca wrote:

    Gorgeous kitchen and gorgeous rug! Headed to ABC to see the selection now…….

    4.13.16
    Reply
  5. Briana wrote:

    I love the first two! The blue and red combo is so so pretty and the size seems perfect. But I also love the yellow and red under the chairs. It looks so natural and lived in. I don’t know how you’ll choose!

    4.13.16
    Reply
  6. Claire wrote:

    My vote is for the first rug, between the sink and the kitchen island. Loving that cozy placement and the way the colors pop.

    4.13.16
    Reply
  7. Laura wrote:

    I love number 2. The colors are so great.
    I have to say i would worry about cleaning them, like the above commenters – only because i am such a slob when i’m cooking and i’m sure i would end up with spaghetti sauce (or coffee or red wine) on my rug 🙁 i love being able to throw my cotton rag rugs in the washing machine once a month.
    these are sooo beautiful though… hmmm…. 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    4.13.16
    Reply
  8. Mun wrote:

    Nice tips and great styling.

    I hear you Laura! Same here 🙂

    4.14.16
    Reply
  9. Michelle wrote:

    I too have an antique persian rug addiction. I have a runner that if my house were burning and i could only take one thing, it would be that runner! can you get both of them? and LOVE your kitchen by the way. how did you hag the open shelves?

    4.14.16
    Reply
  10. Jenni wrote:

    I love those rugs….. but I love the color of your kitchen cabinets more. Do you mind sharing the paint color? My husband and I are trying to find just the right shade of gray for ours and I love the color in these pictures.

    4.14.16
    Reply
  11. Nina wrote:

    Hi Erica, I’ve never commented on anyone’s blog before!

    Rug number 2 is lovely in your kitchen.The motifs are less usual and it’s playful. Looks like a good marriage to me.
    There’s something quite cosy in the thought of early morning tea making with a beautiful rug underfoot, worn by time and activity.

    4.20.16
    Reply
  12. Cynthia wrote:

    Erica, these are all so beautiful!!! How fun that you asked for our opinion…., but you should select the one with the smallest exposed “white” areas. THat would eliminate the rug with the golden colors. IT has a larger white trim around the edge. Yes, wine and tomato sauces can drip onto the rug. And Yes, Spot cleaning is great, but it will drive you crazy if you have too much white in your rug. A darker, busier pattern will be so much more forgiving where maintenance is concerned. I always use rugs in my kitchen… And have never regretted it.

    4.21.16
    Reply
  13. Nicole wrote:

    Loving the paint color on the cabinets! Can you share it?

    4.22.16
    Reply
  14. Stephanie wrote:

    Gorgeous Kitchen! Is there a link or tour with sources? The rugs are gorgeous and enhance the beautiful color of the cabinets!

    4.24.16
    Reply
  15. Shoghere wrote:

    I would like to make a correction: there’s no such thing as Turkish rugs. In 1915 Turks killed over 2,000,000 Armenians, occupied their land and factories and started producing carpets with enslaved Armenians.

    Buy the Persian rug.

    4.24.16
    Reply
  16. Patty wrote:

    Wow Erica, Your kitchen is gorgeous! I also love the color of your beautiful cabinets. All 3 of your rug choices are stunning and each one will make a great choice in your kitchen. The carpets added such a style to give your kitchen a homey feel. My brother has antique carpets in his kitchen with 2 large, active dogs and they have held up beautifully. My carpet choice was easy…I love, love, love carpet #2 with the added yellow. I also love your wood flooŕ. Can you share what paint color and the wood flooring you used? Of course, please share which lucky carpet becomes home to you. Good luck on your decision.

    4.25.16
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      @Patty the walnut flooring is from Monarch Plank. And the cabinets are KraftMaid in Greyloft.

      4.26.16
  17. Hi Erica
    I love your content and kitchen. I have an unrelated question. Can you tell me about your open shelving in your kitchen? I love the whole look!

    4.26.16
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      @Diane we had the shelves made from solid walnut. I really wanted open shelving and am so happy we stuck with it. Especially since the ceilings in our kitchen are lower compared to the rest of the house – so closed cabinets would have made the kitchen feel smaller and darker. I think Ikea might offer floating shelves. Or you can always contact a local wood maker and have them custom made!

      4.26.16
  18. Jennifer Hayden wrote:

    Love you bar stools. Can you tell me where you bought them?

    4.26.16
    Reply
  19. Thank you for this great post. I found you on Pinterest. The rugs are great, love them and have purchased many for my home. Your kitchen is amazing….where did you find those bar stools? Oh my, they are so fantastic!! I will be subscribing to your posts! I would truly love to know your source for the leather stools. Thank you.

    4.26.16
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      @Carol the bar stools are from CB2! West Elm has similar ones too.

      4.26.16
  20. Libby wrote:

    Hi Erica,

    I love that you don’t have a hood
    over your range. Have you had any issues with not having one?
    Your kitchen is beautiful!

    5.3.16
    Reply
  21. Demetrius Boyland wrote:

    Erica- what a fun post. I love the first rug. It’s a nice compliment to oriental dishes.(blue & white) It’s rich, and can stand up to kitchen duties. Not to mention it reminds me of my village rug from Iran that I purchased recently. (1950’s) Which took 6 months to find. I’m in love! I was thinking about open shelves in my new kitchen. I no longer need to wonder. Please do tell which rug was chosen. Kitchen—breathtaking:)

    5.4.16
    Reply
  22. Suzie wrote:

    Your kitchen has such a classic yet warm feeling to it. Your blue and white dishes caught my eye. I have a collection of blue and white bowls and am looking to add to my collection. Are the ones shown in the shelf on your kitchen still available?

    5.14.16
    Reply
  23. Jessica wrote:

    I’m in awe! Would you tell me the paint color on the window trim? It appears to be a navy blue, but maybe it’s a gray? I would love to know the color. Thanks!

    6.11.16
    Reply
  24. Tera wrote:

    Hello, I love the solid walnut shelves! I’m searching for concealed hardware. Can you please share what brackets/hardware you used for these shelves.

    great kitchen!!!

    6.29.16
    Reply
  25. Alivia Millward wrote:

    What type of style would this kitchen be considered? This is exactly the kind of style I want for the next home I build!

    7.19.16
    Reply
  26. Ann wrote:

    BEAUTIFUL kitchen! Lots of misconceptions about rugs here though. I am currently living in the middle east and I have to tell you that the reason your antique rugs looks so great is because they were not “used” the way we use them. They were likely stored or only sat on with cushions. Never ever would they be in a cooking area. Even machine made rugs can last a 100 years plus if they have only been lightly stored. I have lots of rugs – I love them too!

    8.4.16
    Reply
  27. Katie wrote:

    Is this a sponsored post (I believe you are required to disclose)? I love each of the rugs in your kitchen for different reasons but am wondering why you wouldn’t go into knots psi, the amount of wear and stretching that suggests trash vs antique, etc?

    8.4.16
    Reply
  28. Brooke wrote:

    Hi Erica-

    Gorgeous kitchen- where are your cabinet pulls from? Thanks! brooke

    8.17.16
    Reply
  29. Emily wrote:

    Hi Erica, Can you please share where you got those fabulous pendant lights?

    8.17.16
    Reply
  30. Kylie wrote:

    love the cabinet color! Could you share please??

    8.31.16
    Reply
  31. Danielle wrote:

    I also am curious about your range/hood. Do you have a downdraft vent behind the range? Do you have problems with grease and your windows? That is exactly how I want my kitchen sink and range layer out with a giant window.

    10.19.16
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      Hi Danielle, Yes, I have a downdraft vent behind the range. We have not experienced problems with grease buildup on my ceilings or windows – however, we do have them wiped down every couple of months or so.

      10.20.16
  32. Jane wrote:

    I am more concerned about the gas range under a workable window. This is often a code violation. A breeze could blow out the burner leaving gas to escape.

    11.10.16
    Reply
  33. Jenn wrote:

    Hi Erica! Could you tell us what color your kitchen cabinets are? Painting ours soon and love the color!

    11.20.16
    Reply
  34. Rachel Thomas wrote:

    I’d love to know what color the cabinets are too!!

    1.4.17
    Reply
  35. Luann wrote:

    Hello! You have such a beautiful kitchen! I love your walnut shelves. Would you please share how you mounted them to the walls? Thank you!

    2.14.17
    Reply
  36. Jessica wrote:

    I love the cabinet color…do you know what the name of that is???

    2.15.17
    Reply
  37. Vanessa wrote:

    Hellllo and ditto to all the great comments, your kitchen is beautiful, God bless! I am currently looking for a Persian rug runner for the kitchen as well but am a bit confused regarding length. My peninsula is about 11′-0 long and the wall cabinets adjacent is about 16′-0″ from wall to wall. Any tips??
    Thanks in advance!
    Vanessa

    2.28.17
    Reply
  38. Charles wrote:

    Hello

    I Am Charles and I would like to order some ( Antique Rugs ) What would be the Price for one including taxes..?What types of payments do you accept?Thank you and waiting for your reply.

    Regards,
    Charles

    3.25.17
    Reply
  39. Ash No wrote:

    Wow Erica, you captured the beauty of these rugs perfectly. My customers are always shocked at how amazing their vintage and antiques look in their spaces when they actually get them in their home, I just love the photos you took.

    -Ash @ SFRugs.com
    https://sfrugs.com

    4.19.17
    Reply
  40. Arif wrote:

    O Jesus! such lovely rugs. The runner carpet is sooo good. Arn’t these known as Persian rug!!!

    6.28.17
    Reply
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    8.4.17
    Reply
  42. Suzanna wrote:

    Hey there, love your kitchen. I am desperate to get barstools around my island, but like you have a fridge on the seating size. Your kitchen encouraged me that it IS doable! Would you mind giving me the specifics on the distance from the island to the fridge and how much overhang you put for the barstools to go under the island? Now that you have been living in the kitchen for a while is it working for you?
    Thank you SOOOO much!

    8.24.17
    Reply
  43. Alice wrote:

    Beautiful kitchen! Could you tell me where you found the barstools?

    3.4.18
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      @Alice, they’re from CB2!

      3.5.18
  44. Tiffany wrote:

    One of the most amazing kitchens I’ve seen to date. May I ask what is the name of the color of your window frame and cabinets?

    Thanks

    3.25.18
    Reply
  45. Erika, your interiors are absolutely gorgeous but I must admit that I admire your taste in rugs even more! The first one that you’re presenting intrigues me. It bears either a “tree of life” or “cypress” pattern, I am not entirely sure, nonetheless both are extremely powerful motifs in the Oriental symbolism, expressing hope for eternal life.

    I see you’re a true rug aficionado so perhaps my collection will interest you https://www.dorisleslieblau.com Although I have been dealing with rugs since 1965, I haven’t lost passion for them in the slightest. On the contrary, by each day I’m falling for woven beauties more and more.

    I wish you all the best as well as many future fantastic rug discoveries 😉

    4.13.18
    Reply
  46. Kimberley Thompson wrote:

    I have a dilemma as I need two rugs for my kitchen… I found one great antique runner that I like but how would you go about getting another? Should the match? Which is impossible to do with antique rugs…coordinate? Be completely different? How does someone navigate this?

    4.26.18
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      @Kimberley I think that is something a lot of people struggle with, including me! They definitely do not need to match – and with antique rugs, it’s nearly impossible for them to match anyway. I think it’s fine if the patterns are different. I like to at least try to compliment the dominating color. So, for example, I wouldn’t put a more blue toned rug next to a red toned rug. As long as the color scheme is similar or complimentary, I think definitely go with the “mismatched” look!!

      4.26.18
  47. Ashley wrote:

    Both are rugs are very colorful and beautiful. My eyes are on your kitchen’s crockery sets they are exquisitely lovely. Please tell me from where did you get those????
    As you have the great sense of interior, I wanna ask you something. Recently I’ve got the interior of my entire house. Reds, strong blues and vibrant greens in particular. Please suggest me the best Area Rug, as I have a wooden Dining table in my dining room with vintage cutlery set and blue color painted walls, Suggest me something which goes absolute fabulous with this combination. I’ve been purchasing the rugs from https://www.therugmall.com/8-x-10-area-rugs-best-rugs-to-buy-in-usa/ they have the great collection of rugs.

    5.10.18
    Reply