When talking vintage, a fine line surely exists between the vintage item that makes you the envy of your design-eyed friends, and the vintage that makes you question an object’s actual hygienic repercussions on your home. When the conversation becomes about vintage and antique rugs, as most conversations do(!), a whole new myriad of myths, musts and maybes are called into question— questions that are left best to the experts.
We spoke with connoisseurs from the industry’s leading (and coolest) vintage rug sources: Sam Moradzadeh, CEO and creative director of woven, Benjamin Hyman, co-founder and CEO of Revival Rugs and Joyce Kong, the brand’s co-founder and Head of Product, and Laura Hebden, the founder and designer behind Maven Collection.
They are harmonious in their belief that history is (almost) everything, and that make and materials are what will stand the test of time. See what else makes the list of five golden rules for shopping for antique and vintage rugs.
1. Learn Thy Story
“Origin is very important, especially when it comes to handwoven rugs. Turkey has a tradition of weaving that dates back hundreds of years and is one of the first civilizations to develop the craft of weaving, and certainly one of the most well-known to have honed the art. They’re masters of their craft, and there really isn’t a substitute for centuries of a rug-making tradition to draw from in creating beautiful, quality pieces.” –Joyce Kong, Revival Rugs
2. Love Thy Design
“An antique rug can ground and soften lines of a modern room, while the warmth of a vintage Moroccan rug can add a subtle edge to a more traditional room setting. Vintage flat weave Swedish style rugs are a fantastic addition to all styles of decor, with their modern graphic lines and beautiful vintage coloring.” –Sam Moradzadeh, woven
3. Revel in Research
“If you are shopping online, make sure you have high resolution photos so you can see the quality. Most companies should provide you with additional photos if requested. If I’m outsourcing rugs, I look for quality, what repairs are required, and the overall aesthetic of the rug. If I’m shopping for me personally, I like to look at the utility of the rug. I might not put a long shaggy wool rug in my bathroom, so I do consider that when purchasing.” –Laura Hebden, Maven Collection
4. Know Thy Process
“A lot of times people are looking for that buzzword ‘handmade rug’ and not paying attention to what processes that applies to. Many rugs are handwoven, but a quality vintage rug will be handwoven from handspun yarn. The differences between handspun yarn and machine-spun yarn are texture, thickness, and consistency. Machine-spun yarn is spun to be as thin as possible with a completely uniform thickness and texture, while handspun yarn has irregularities in thickness throughout the thread. Overall this means more wool is used in handspun yarn so if you lift a rug made from handspun wool, you’ll find it will feel much more substantial and heavier than a rug made from machine-spun yarn.” –JK
5. Love Thy (Industry) Neighbors
“Vintage rugs are versatile and work well with other rugs in the home. For instance, in my own home, I’ve layered a vintage rug on a classic jute rug from IKEA. I’ve also layered vintage rugs with a cowhide rug from South America to give the apartment an eclectic, modern look that draws from different eras. I appreciate rugs from different rug-making cultures like the Navajo kilims or Moroccan Berber carpets. I’ve always liked treasure hunting on platforms like Etsy and Charish.” –JK