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How to Use Oriental Rugs?

Think of your room from the floor up!

As you study the photos in your favorite home decor magazine seeking inspiration, what do you notice first?

I would suspect it is not the rugs. In fact, you might consider rugs an afterthought; after you have chosen the furniture, the wall-covering or color, the window treatments, the lighting.
Oriental rugs industry insiders suggest you turn your thinking upside down and plan your room decor from the bottom up.  Floor covering anchors the room, they say, setting its tone, palette, and personality.
Think of the rug as the “bridesmaid.”  It might not be the element that attracts the most attention, but the “wedding” can not go on without it.

I do not know much about Art!

If you were to pay several thousand dollars for an original painting, you would probably understand why:  A painting is the handiwork of an artist. The same could be said for hand-knotted rugs. People should recognize that a hand-knotted rug is not something for the floor, it is an art piece.
Consider that a hand-knotted rug can take as much as a year to produce (or weave). Weavers employ centuries old techniques developed by nomadic people, whose rugs withstood harsh conditions in places where visitors did not necessarily wipe their feet at the door.  So while you probably would not tread on a painting, it is perfectly fine to walk all over your rugs. They mellow and develop character with use.
And contrary to what you might expect, hand-knotted rugs have a life expectancy far longer than their machine made counterparts. A good rugs, like good art, maintains or increase its value over the years.

But I Know What I like!

I have covered some specifics of the rug construction and craftsmanship on this site, Just use the links on the left side to find them. Here, I begin where every rug buyer begins:  Pick your favorite color.
No matter what types of rugs they sell, dealers agree that color is the first thing customers consider when buying rugs. Favorite shades right now are combinations of icy blue and brown, often with creamy ivory blended in.  Jewel tones such as brick red and saffron yellow are popular also. What is next on the horizon depends on whom you ask.
Even companies that sell the most traditional styles of oriental rugs adapt their color palettes to modern tastes and decor styles.  They might reverse the colors of the field (The central background) and the border, for instance, but the colors are always from natural vegetable dyes, the wool is always hand-spun, and the rugs are sheared low to replicate antique pile that has been worn down over time, also called antique reproduction Persian rugs styles.

Elements of Style

The next you should consider is the style of the rug, and here again, there is no right or wrong selection. Rugs, like people, have different personalities.
As you begin to shop for a rug, you will hear an atlas-full of designations tossed around. Expect to find Tabriz, Bidjar, and Kerman rugs from Persia, Oushagh fro Turkey; Peshawar rugs from India and Pakistan; and Tibetan rugs, which are woven in Nepal.  Yet a rug’s origin, while fascinating, may be less important than its look and what it contributes to the overall decor of your room.
People re drawn to a style they find pleasing no matter where the rug comes from!  If they like it, it is not important that it is a reproduction of a Persian Heriz or Kashan.
More relevant to rug buyers are the design classification:

  • Traditional Rugs replicate established styles and patterns.  Their designs are highly detailed and feature motifs from nature, such as stars, flowers, and leaves.  most industry insiders say traditional rugs are the most popular designs.
  • Contemporary rugs tend to be bold, often featuring geometric motifs and varying pile height and texture.
  • Transitional rugs bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary designs.  For instance, transitional rugs might isolate a traditional floral motifs and blow it up into a splashy repeat pattern, or they might combine designs from nature with swirls, grids, or other geometric elements.

Bringing it Home

Once you get the feel for rugs, you want to use them in different rooms. People generally purchase rugs for the living room, bedroom, and dinning room.  After that the possibilities are open.
There is a tendency to feel that a traditional rug requires a traditional settings, and certainly traditional rugs are always appropriate in antique filled rooms. But do not let the philosophy limit your selection. Pair a traditional rug with a contemporary leather sofa, a Stickley style dining set, or an indoor wicker grouping. Juxtaposing styles breathes new life into a room.
In some cases, a rug you really love looks right almost anywhere in your home. Moving it from the living room into the bedroom can give you a new perspective on both the rooms and the rug, and it can become the starting point for other decor ideas.

All you have to do is turn your thinking upside down!

Choosing Rugs: Listen and Learn from the experts!

Becoming truly knowledgeable about rugs can require a lifetime.
That is why when you are shopping for oriental rugs, you encounter so many 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation rug dealers. They are born into the business and are trained by their fathers and grandfathers.
If you do not have generations of family experience to call upon, find a rug dealer who does and tap his or her knowledge. Most rug merchants do not want their wares to be a mystery. More likely, you will find them eager to share their passion for oriental rugs with you.
You have the right to know “who made a rug,” “where it was made,” “what was made from,” and so on.
Always buy what you like, but know what you are buying.

  • Construction
    Start with rug construction and the three terms you hear most often; “machine made,” “hand-tufted,” “hand knotted.”

1. Machine made rugs are factory made, usually of wool but also of synthetic fiber. A rug is probably machine made if:
a) It was made in Europe or the United States (Beware of new countries are starting to
     produce these types of rugs).
b) Its fringe is sewn on, is not part of the body of the rug.
c) Its back is stiff from latex coating.
d) Its design is less distinct on the back than on the front.

  • Hand-tufted rugs are made using a device called a tufting gun that fastens the fibers to the backing. You may hear them called “hand-made” rugs, however, that designation can be misleading. It is true that a human hand wields the tufting gun; but that is pretty much where the human touch ends. These rugs are a reasonable option if you need an inexpensive floor covering with a short life expectancy.
  • Hand knotted rugs are what every one covets and with good reason.  Every single wool fiber is knotted by hand sometimes hundreds of fibers (or knots) per square inch.
  • Knots
    Traditional oriental rug knots are the symmetrical “Ghiordes knot” and the asymmetrical “Seneh knot.” Although these knot types were developed i Turkey and Persia, respectively, they are used throughout the most rug making capitols of the world.
    Hand-knotting is time consuming. A weaver may need a full (or more, depending on number of knots count) year to make a 9 x 12 feet rug.
  • Fibers
    Hand knotted oriental rugs are most often mad from wool and/or silk, and the origin of the fiber generally depends on the origin of the rug.

To appreciate a beautiful hand-made oriental rug, you do not have to know who dyed or spun the wool. Yet such details are what make the rugs fascinating. They captivate you and help you understand why anyone, a rug dealer or a first time rug buyer can inspire a lifetime of learning.

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