antique rugs

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Half the appeal of a good vintage piece is the elusive history behind it.

Many of us love the allure of an antique rug… from afar. But why? Remember, life is short – USE THE RUG! Well, the saying doesn’t really go like that but you get my meaning, right? With a little bit of care and a little bit of attention, we can ‘display’ those gorgeous antique rugs in plain sight for all to use.

In Architectural Digest, Frances Loom’s KellyVittengl shares tips for keeping vintage rugs clean without the added wear and tear.

Though Kelly Vittengl is known for her exquisite antique rug curation, the founder of California-based Frances Loom prefers her pieces to be a little rough around the edges. “I gravitate towards rugs that are worn almost to the threads. In my opinion, these have so much more character and a story to tell,” she says. “I draw inspiration for my collection from everywhere: my friends, art, Instagram, my neighborhood. But as weird as this sounds, I’m able to pick up on energies in these rugs. Rugs with a rich past speak to me, and others just don’t.” With history comes age, however, and vintage rugs need a little more care than most. Learn how this self-proclaimed “rug slinger” keeps them in pristine condition, so you can enjoy their special beauty for years to come.

Style for minimal wear

“Even the more worn rugs are sturdier than one might think. Many of them have already lasted over a hundred years—they’re tougher than they look,” Vittengl says. “However, the less foot traffic the better. If you’re really trying to preserve a rug, perhaps find a space where it will get less wear.” A room where you don’t plan to regularly entertain guests or serve food and drinks is your best bet.

Treat them like art

Although Vittengl is a huge fan of wear and tear, she recommends trying out unconventional spots for your rug if you want to maintain its look long term. “There’s always the option of hanging the rug on the wall or using it as a headboard in a bedroom. They truly are masterpieces and should be treated like art.”

Where to Buy Online (yes, that’s right, I said ONLINE)

Purchasing a vintage or antique rug can be an overwhelming task. The options and considerations are endless, and, until a few years ago, unless you were personally going to Turkey or Morocco to handpick your carpet of choice directly from a bazaar, the selection usually involved hours spent in a carpet showroom, flipping through heavy piles of dusty options whose full pattern and scale you could barely discern. Well, as with most things, the carpet industry has changed with the e-commerce times, and now a handful of purveyors have made shopping for the rug of your dreams a clickable, user-friendly experience.

Solo Rugs

Formerly a trade-only source, this extensive rug seller opened to consumers last year through its first e-commerce site. In an effort to make fine floor coverings more accessible, Solo added dozens of less-expensive rugs to its inventory for the launch, and now carries both vintage and made-to-order carpets, which range from $150 to $60,000. solorugs.com


While Etsy is better known for its handmade offerings, its multitude of sellers also hawk vintage wares, and rugs are one of the most popular categories, with over 55,000+ options available. Oriental and Beni Ourain are the most popular styles, but there are plenty of kilims, rag rugs, and other styles as well. etsy.com


This carpet giant’s site breaks down its rugs by region as well as style, showing the extent of their sourcing and acting as an educational tool for the rug novice. starkcarpet.com

ABC Home

This legendary New York City store, whose two-building complex on Broadway has become a tourist destination, displays a good portion of its thousand-carpet inventory on its website. You’ll see everything from silks to Beni Ourains to flatweaves, but one unique find is ABC’s Color Reform overdyed collection, an update of worn-out antique carpets that gives them fresh new life. abchome.com


As its name suggests, this site specializes in the flat, tapestry-style woven rugs native to Pakistan and the Balkans. Kilim.com offers new and vintage carpets as well as patchworks made up of salvaged scraps of antique rugs. kilim.com


A go-to name in the carpet world, Safavieh has a wide-reaching selection—almost overwhelmingly so. Its website simplifies the process, though, making it easy to sort rugs (including a healthy vintage selection) by color, style, shape, or size. safavieh.com

A few tips for shopping:

1.   Color and Pattern: When it comes to Persian and Turkish rugs, whether you choose to go vintage or new, color and pattern are key. Bold, elaborate patterns are best with gorgeous rich pops of color; think orange, pink, deep oxblood red, blue.

2.   Texture: Avoid rugs with a high-pile, a.k.a., lots of texture or shag. A heavily trafficked area is just going to collect dirt. Look for a flat weave rug (like wool) that can clean easily.

3.   Juxtaposition: Offset simpler spaces with one of these rugs. You’d be amazed at how much life one of these patterned rugs can give an older style or white-washed room.

4.   The Perfect Pattern: Take the time to find the right rug that complements your design style.

For Example: Dress Up a Hallway with Turkish Runners


In the second-floor hallway of a California house, designer Betsy Burnham in House Beautiful overlaps Turkish runners, drawing the eye to a Moroccan-inspired reading nook. The vintage carpets "can transform a plain hallway into a decorated space," Burnham says. "A really faded, tattered rug is instantly Bohemian."

And I don't know about you, but I could use a few more beautiful vintage rug images, like...