A great rug can solve a multitude of bad apartment sins, from ugly honey-colored floors to wall-to-wall carpeting (the ultimate apartment horror). But if you’ve ever spotted just the rug in a friend’s apartment, or left a comment on a social media post, only to despair when you’re told breezily “Oh, it’s vintage,” this is the guide for you.
If budget is at all a consideration, think (and search for) vintage rugs rather than antiques. “Antique” is a term reserved for objects that are over 100 years old, while vintage is usually applied to anything more than 20 years old. “Antique rugs were not manufactured for commercial purposes; they were custom made for nobility,” explains Sam Moradzadeh of Woven a trusted high-end purveyor of vintage and antique rugs in Los Angeles. Hence the hefty price tag. (Oh, and rugs in the one- to 20-year range? They're just used. Nothing wrong with that, but they’re not vintage—yet.)
All that rug jargon can be a little overwhelming if you’re new on the vintage rug scene.
Expert tip: Traditionally, rugs are identified by their place of origin, so if you can’t remember the terms just try to note the area of the world that produced your favourite styles and search for that.
A think rug with subtle colours and an uber-plush feel. An oushak has a centre medallion with a patterned border.
Those single-color rugs, with a faint hint of a pattern underneath? Those are overdyed. The process of dyeing them creates a soft, washed-out depth—color minimalists rejoice!
Perhaps best known as home to the Taj Mahal, the city of Agra, India, also produces some killer rugs. It was that royal patronage in the 16th century that gave a boost to the town’s rug industry.
The popularity of Swedish rugs was cemented when 20th-century modern designers became captivated by the idea of blending heritage Oriental rug-making techniques with Swedish motifs. The simple patterns and muted palettes are as popular as ever.
If you’ve read a design blog or magazine in the last five years, you are likely familiar with this designer-darling. The base material for a Moroccan rug is black or white sheep’s wool, but the finished color and pattern is determined by the tribe of origin.
Like oushaks, kilims are Turkish flat-woven rugs, which means that they are on the thin side of the rug spectrum. If you’re drawn to stripes or geometric patterns, look for kilims—there are a million varieties of this popular rug.
A subset of the flat-woven kilim rugs, the chador was a tent that Middle Eastern tribes would sleep under (in Farsi, the word literally means tent), though it’s also the term for a traditional outer garment worn by women in the region. When used as a rug, the chador is deceptively delicate and ethereal, but don’t be fooled—its design was, after all, made to withstand the desert elements.