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vintage rug 1

Nearly a third of the rugs in my home are vintage. I had never owned a vintage rug until last year. But once I bought my first, I was smitten. I’ve gradually acquired more since then and would love to increase their presence in my home. I just love them! Here are several reasons why I love ’em so.

1. They’re one-of-a-kind. Most vintage rugs weren’t mass-produced at the time of creation. As a result, they boast unique patterns and color palettes. These exclusive patterns and colors bring a sense of individuality to ordinary spaces. Because of this, vintage rugs work well in newer homes where some history (or a story) is needed.

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2. They’re available in non-standard sizes. I don’t know about you but not every room in my house conforms to the standard 3′ x 5′, 5′ x 7′, 8′ x 10′, 9′ x 12′ rug size options. Some spaces require a rug less rectangular in shape while other spaces call for something more linear. Too often I find brand-new rugs in my preferred width but the length is off…or vice versa. And made-to-order rugs? Well, those aren’t in the budget. In these instances, vintage rugs are ideal. It might take some leg work to find just the right size but it’s out there!

3. They feature high quality craftsmanship. Fifty-year-old (and plus!) rugs are still around because they were made well to begin with and, most likely, they were man-made not machine-made. If you fall in love with an old rug don’t worry too much about how much life it has left in it as long as it’s in good condition. It’s made it this long so who’s to say it won’t last another fifty years?! Most vintage rugs are surprisingly durable.

4. They’re already “worn in.”┬áVintage rugs are used and have been loved well. This takes the pressure off of new owners to treat them delicately. (You can’t say the same for brand-new rugs.) So bring on the kids! and crumbs! and spilled drinks! and dirt! There’s no need to baby vintage rugs. On the same note, some vintage rugs feature a well-deserved patina which only increases their beauty.

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5. They lend a global vibe. Depending on a rug’s place of origin and style, you have the opportunity to incorporate a design element from another country or culture into your home. This is possible for travelers and homebodies alike. If you travel, you can often times score vintage rugs for a steal from their native land. (Just remember to leave room in your suitcase.) If not, you can just as easily shop for vintage rugs online. Personally, I am not a globetrotter (wish I was!) but I love that I have rugs from Pakistan, Turkey and Persia in my Ohio home.

6. They’re eco-friendly. Buying vintage anything is better for the environment than buying brand-new. Sometimes I wonder about the pollution created by shipping internationally but then I remember that the manufacturing and importing of brand-new rugs churns out way more pollutants. When you buy a vintage rug, you also avoid the harmful off-gassing of noxious toxins (which new rugs typically emit) into your home.

7. They’re beyond the shedding phase. With vintage rugs, there’s no need for obsessive vacuuming during the first few months of ownership to keep shed fibers at bay. This was an unexpected (and wonderful!) benefit the first time I purchased a vintage rug.

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8. They can be cost-effective. With new rugs, price is directly proportionate to size (when considering rugs made of the same material). However, this isn’t always the case for vintage rugs. Many other factors – including condition, quality, age, demand, etc. – come into play. Of the three vintage rugs I own, the largest one (in my dining room) was not the most expensive. I looked at brand-new rugs for the dining room and they were all more expensive than the vintage one I ultimately bought. Also, most vintage rugs are sold by personal sellers whom are willing to negotiate on the price. You don’t have that option with new rugs and big companies.

Are you convinced of the power of vintage rugs yet?! Haha. I will definitely be adding more vintage rugs to my home. I especially like them in “hard” spaces where they can be the main textile focal point: kitchens, dining rooms and bathrooms. And I also like the look of a smaller, colorful vintage rug layered on top of a larger, chunky jute. Hmmm…maybe in my bedroom or the nursery?? As for where to buy them online, I prefer to shop reputable sellers on etsy and ebay. And if there’s ever a question about the true color or condition of the rug, I always ask. So far, I’ve had nothing but good experiences.

Would you buy a vintage rug? Maybe you already own one? I’d love to know what style you prefer and where you (would) use it.

P.S. – Click here to see who won last week’s Cook Smarts giveaway!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

49 Comments

09.June.2014

I love the look of these but how do you keep them from sliding all over your floor? I’ve tried rug pads over our hardwood but they never seem to work that well.

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replied on June 9th, 2014

At first, I thought I would get rug pads but I still don’t have them. The rug in the dining area is held in place by the table so no need for a rug pad there. And, honestly, after living with the ones in the kitchen (in front of the sink and at the desk) we’ve figured out how to walk on them without them sliding around. It’s like second nature now. Not that we couldn’t use rug pads but they just aren’t a priority.

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YES!! Love, love, LOVE vintage rugs! We popped one in our kitchen, too. It’s my favorite rug in the house :)

Here it is in action: http://lemongroveblog.com/queen-of-persia/

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replied on June 9th, 2014

LOVE your rug – and your kitchen!!

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09.June.2014

Great post! I have a vintage kilim rug in our kitchen that gets a lot of traffic & food/crumbs constantly spilling on it. How do you spot clean your rugs? My hubby spilled marinara sauce on our rug last night and I was unsure of what to use to clean it.

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replied on June 9th, 2014

It really depends on what gets spilled. Marinara usually comes up with a little dish soap and water. I don’t have any special stain removers that I use. If all else fails, the colors and patterns are pretty good at hiding what I miss!

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09.June.2014

I would love to know who you should with on ebay. :)

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09.June.2014

How do you go about cleaning them before you use them? I bought two large rugs from a thrift shop recently, but I not sure how to clean them before using them. Any ideas?

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replied on June 9th, 2014

It probably wouldn’t hurt to have vintage rugs professionally cleaned. HOWEVER, I have never done that ;) I usually wait to see how clean / dirty they are when they arrive and go from there. Surprisingly, the ones I’ve purchased have only been dusty. I take them outside and give them a good shake / beating then let them air out (in the shade) for a few days before bringing them in and vacuuming them several times – both sides. I read somewhere that the biggest enemy of rugs is dirt. Over time it can actually break down rug fibers. So I vacuum regularly – a few times a week. I’ve also heard of people rinsing them with the hose and letting them air dry but not sure how that affects the integrity of the rug??

It’s also worth mentioning… if you are buying from a reputable buyer with numerous good reviews, you shouldn’t have to worry about critters.

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replied on July 20th, 2014

My latest rug from Turkey smelled like a darn camel (maybe a whole herd of them). I don’t think there are camels in Turkey, so this puzzled me! I have ridden a few camels in my time, so I am familiar with their, ahem, odor.

I just aired it out on the patio for an afternoon, vacuumed it really well, & it’s been in the kitchen now for a few months, odor-free. I guess we are adding our own food odors to it now.

I love the hunt for vintage rugs. And their price tags! A ritzy friend recommended an “affordable” vintage rug place in our city. Her take on affordable is $2-3k/rug. I’m not sure what kind of look I gave her when she told me that, but I know it wasn’t good. I like that mine are 10% or so of those price tags!

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09.June.2014

I love all your rugs! I have the hardest time finding the right size even with vintage. I haven’t checked etsy or ebay so thanks for that tip!

On another note, have you heard of Everything But The House (ebth.com)? They have amazing vintage finds (unfortunately haven’t found rugs in the right color there yet). You’re in Ohio but for others checking this out, they have sales in Cincinnati, Lexington, Louisville, and Indianapolis. It’s basically estate sales + ebay bidding. Amazing!

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replied on June 9th, 2014

Yes, I’ve heard of Everything but the House but I haven’t actually bought anything on their site…yet!

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09.June.2014

Please share your sources for vintage rugs – I would love to have some in my kitchen but I don’t know where to begin – thanks!

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replied on June 9th, 2014

Maybe an idea for a future post??

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replied on February 5th, 2016

Hey Kris, Here are some of my favorite Etsy shops that sell fine vintage and antique rugs for good prices.
You might check NotonlyRugs and SevenhillsCollection,
Hope this helps.

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09.June.2014

Amen! I have a vintage rug in my living room that I inherited from my grandmother. It isn’t in the best condition (edges frayed), but I love it. I think the reason that I resonate the most with is the global vibe that you get from the vintage rugs.

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09.June.2014

Totally agree! I’ve had Persian rugs since I bought my first piece of “good” furniture. Always wool or wool-silk combo, and always hand-knotted. About a decade ago, I fell hard for Gabbehs, tribal rugs often made with vegetable dyes (not the Gabbeh styles made in India, which are too uniform and bright for me). I also cherish a small threadbare Chinese deco throw rug now in a bathroom, and 2 other traditional semi-antique rugs. They’re surprisingly versatile, and all of them are coming with us on our next move in a few months.

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replied on June 9th, 2014

I would love to add some vintage rugs to our bathrooms!

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09.June.2014

I love vintage oriental rugs. They add so much personality to a room. We have four in our house and I’ll be purchasing another one soon for the soon-to-be nursery. They are so durable and hide stains well.

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09.June.2014

Can you give us your favorite online vintage sellers? I’m looking to buy a kilim for my living room.

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09.June.2014

I second the motion for your fave rug sources. I’m so over looking at new rugs that I don’t love and am looking for things that have more history and interest without breaking the bank.

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Ditto to everything you said. We have several, and they really do add character to rooms. My faves are kilims which originate in Turkey. I buy them on our travels.

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09.June.2014

I too would love a source list! Or key words that you use in your seaches ex. vintage or kilim, etc.
Thanks :)

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replied on June 9th, 2014

Okay, a post all about shopping for vintage rugs is on the blog post idea list!

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09.June.2014

Totally agree! Also, most of these are great reasons to buy vintage furniture, especially # 3. Even fifty years ago, people didn’t treat furniture as disposable, expecting to buy another couch (or whatever) in five or ten years. Vintage furniture is often very well-made, and if you can find a good re-upholsterer around you, it’s often less expensive to buy a something and have it reupholstered, an it is to buy something new. So you get a one-of-a-kind piece of much better quality! A win-win.

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replied on June 9th, 2014

So true! I recently bought a vintage dresser for the boys’ room and I was astonished at the price (less than $200) + quality (solid maple, dovetail joints, extremely heavy) compared to new dressers of a similar size.

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09.June.2014

We have a few from my grandmother. I think she even got them used! Just like her, we’ve had them through dogs and kids. Currently we have two (totally unmatching!) in our bedroom which has super ugly but functional laminate flooring. They change the space and give the room warmth and class. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try one in our kitchen but it would look good…

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Love me a good vintage rug. I have been on the hunt for one for the living room for a while. I seem to really like the style of some Lilyhan Sarouks and Heriz rugs too. I wrote a post showing a couple of different ones I have seen online and at a local rug store.

I haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

http://shiftctrlart.com/Blogpost/un85/Living-room-on-my-mind–rug-hunting

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replied on June 9th, 2014

Good luck with your rug hunt! I know you will find something great for your living room.

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09.June.2014

Wow! We have the same floors,how do you manage to keep them clean.???
Also where is that dining table from….im loving it!

Thank u! :)

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replied on June 9th, 2014

The dining table is the Boerum table from West Elm. I have a post in the works that will address how I clean my floors. It’s a popular question!

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09.June.2014

I love how vintage rugs give warmth to more modern decor. They really can be used with all styles of decor. On another note, I am new to your blog and really appreciate what you have done with your home! I love the light fixture over your dining room table. Can you share the source? Thanks!

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replied on June 10th, 2014

It’s Crate & Barrel’s Hoyne pendant!

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replied on June 10th, 2014

Love it! Thanks Dana!

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I love the look of these rugs and although I love buying vintage but I have yet to buy a vintage rug. I am always worried about what smells (particularly pet odors) they may come with. I had one of my own rugs I cleaned myself and then had professionally cleaned that I just could not get the smell out of. I guess a reputable dealer or a really good price are the only solution. May have to take the plunge.

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10.June.2014

I bought a vintage rug at an antique store in Oklahoma on vacation and absolutely love it. I get so many compliments on it too! I had been searching high and low for a new rug, but just couldn’t justify the price (it’s on carpet, which I know is decor controversy, but I needed something to add some character to my beige apartment) and never really found one I loved. I’ve found that anytime I buy something vintage (furniture, decor pieces, rugs, baskets, you name it) I have a much stronger, almost immediate connection to it, which means I don’t tire of it as quickly.

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replied on June 10th, 2014

Go Team Rugs on Carpet! I, too, have a stronger connection to the few vintage pieces in my home. It’s as if by owning vintage decor I’m merging old + new lives together.

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10.June.2014

I had to laugh at your comment about shipping vintage rugs. Most new rugs are made in China or India, not locally. Therefore they are shipped quite a far distance.

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replied on June 10th, 2014

That’s what I meant by “the manufacturing and importing of brand-new rugs churns out way more pollutants.” So having a vintage rug shipped internationally isn’t really a big deal.

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10.June.2014

Other people have probably already said this, but I’d love a follow-up post about where to get them! Love your blog!!

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10.June.2014

Dana, I covet your rugs, particularly the one in the dining/mud/laundry room. I was thinking about your living room rug, which I also love, and how well it goes with the vintage ones you have. Even though it’s new, it coordinates so well. Any advice on how to mix old and new rugs? Is the color scheme or pattern the key?

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replied on June 11th, 2014

I’m going to write up a post all about sourcing vintage rugs and tips for using them. I will address mixing new + old too!

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replied on June 11th, 2014

Yay! I very much look forward to this post :)

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loooove vintage rugs. im hoping to knab a vintage kilim rug soon. yours are beautiful:)

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13.June.2014

I love the look of vintage rugs but I’m not sure where to find them. Any suggestions?

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[…] ┬áDana from House Tweaking shared her reasons for using vintage […]

17.June.2014

When I discovered your blog a few months ago and saw your amazing kitchen rug, you inspired me to begin my own hunt for a vintage rug. Last week I finally found “the one” on Etsy. A beautiful vintage turkish rug with such beautiful colors. It has not arrived yet but I am SO excited for it to come.

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replied on June 17th, 2014

Send a picture when it arrives!

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20.October.2015

Great post and fantastic photos! Vintage rugs in the kitchen are such an awesome and easy way to add warmth to a room that many of us spend so much time in! Keep up the great work :)

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