Rugs- A love Letter by Aubrey Butcher
When I consider how to allocate funds for a client’s budget, rugs are always a point of contention. Often times, I hear clients say they’d rather not spend a lot of money on a rug because of their kids, dogs, etc. I get that, I do – but I am also here to educate and I have come to realize that there are a ton of misconceptions about rugs.
While I am a huge fan of vintage and hand knotted rugs, I am no expert. For an expert’s opinion, I asked my friend and professional rug curator, Anayah of Kyoreder of Rugs, to collaborate with me on this post.
Photo by Aubrey @gildedheights
Let’s tackle the durability factor, shall we?
Aubrey: This is pretty much the greatest ‘PRO’ for purchasing a vintage rug. 100% wool rugs are naturally stain and water resistant. Think about it, a truly vintage rug has been around for 50+ years. How many things have been dropped on it in that time period? They can withstand any wear and tear you expose it to – yes, even from your toddler or pet. I don’t sweat the vintage rugs we have in our house, because I understand that spills can be remedied with some blotting or gentle stain remover. I also find that crumbs are less noticeable because the pattern in the rug hides any loose dirt or crumbs if you’re between vacuums.
Anayah: The main thing I love about vintage rugs, especially hand knotted ones is their durability. When the rug is hand knotted the knots themselves are so secure they can't be easily pulled out. It's one giant knot made of tiny knots. Think of it as a knot in a gold chain, how hard is that to get out? Now imagine hundreds of them after each other?
That means that pet claws and kids with scissors or heels are not going to do much damage unlike for example, to a tufted rug where the wool is just inserted into the rug and so therefore with a little bit of effort it can be pulled right back out.
Also as Aubrey rightly pointed out wool itself is washable! It's a natural material! Did you know it's also fire resistant? Wool is the only natural material approved to be near fireplaces!
Photo by Anayah of Kyoreder of Rugs
OK, but what about the really bad stains?
Anayah: It all depends on the type of stain, but at the end of the day wool is washable. Whether you wash it or a professional oriental rug company washes it, it can be dealt with! I'm pretty sure some of the antique rugs I see have seen mud, food, pet, ink, paint and much more in their 70+ years of life!
Aubrey: I've had all different types of rugs myself and have always found that my authentic, wool rugs have the most longevity. It doesn't matter if there are kids or pets involved.
Are there different styles of rugs that are more suitable to families?
Aubrey: I think it really boils down to your aesthetic, but personally, I find the hand knotted rugs are the most durable. The tighter the knots, the more it will hold its shape and resist liquid stains. Machine tufted rugs just don’t compare. Also, kilim rugs are really low maintenance for areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms. They can be easily shaken out and the thick textile holds up really well.
Anayah: I would always say hand knotted and vintage. Vintage rugs already have been tested with time so what you see is how it's held up for atleast 10+ years. Therefore you know how it'll be for you for the next 10+ years! Pick darker colors if you are worried, and/or busier patterns. A lower pile is always easier for high traffic areas to maintain.
Actual rug in Aubrey's kids room @gildedheights
Ok, so why can't I just get one of these new washable rugs I see a ton of ads for?
Aubrey: You certainly can. I've had plenty of clients purchase washable rugs when they weren't ready to commit to a hand knotted option. The problem is, those aren't long term solutions. Washable rugs are great for temporary use. Eventually, the backing will loosen, the binding will unravel, it will start holding odors.
Anayah: Yes, absolutely you could, however do you want to spend $100 every year? Because that's going to add up. The washable rugs are a great concept as they go into your washing machine. And who can beat the ease of that? I would say a hand knotted vintage rug can beat the ease of that because you only have to spot clean with a washcloth and a little bit of mild soap and water once in a blue moon when you get stains. And you only have to do a full clean every 2 to 3 years if they get loved on a lot! I have a hand knotted pakistani bokhara rug that my father gave me when I was 15 and I've had it for 15 years and it's only had to be cleaned twice in its lifetime! It also looks completely brand new. Pretty sure nothing that goes through the washing machine can say the same!
30+year Hand knotted on top, Brand new machine made underneath. Photo by Anayah of Kyoreder of Rugs
What’s the benefit of purchasing a vintage hand tufted rug over a new hand tufted rug?
Anayah: I think it s personal preference at the end of the day. I personally have both! But for me vintage has an advantage over new, the wear of age that creates a "patina" for lack of a better word as well as color variations just can't be replicated with new. Also vintage rugs are made from vegetable dyes which are always more pleasing to the eye. Newer rugs don't always gaurantee this.
Aubrey: For me, it’s the character a vintage rug has. The subtle variation of color can’t really be duplicated. And also, I deeply appreciate that buying second hand is better for the environment. I think people will continue to pay attention to this throughout 2021. Buying something pre-loved minimizes waste and our carbon footprint. More often than not, it’s also less expensive to source a vintage hand tufted rug rather than a new one.
How do I know if I’ve found a high quality rug?
Anayah: My answer is always going to be, let your trusted rug lady help you, just kidding, sort of. It's about knowledge. Look at the wool, does it have a pleasing feel and sheen? Is it hand knotted? Is the fringe attached or a part of the rug? Again, it might be hard to determine so always feel free to ask me! Even if it's not my rug, I'm happy to advise!
Whomever you are shopping a rug from should be able to tell you details about the rug. We know you have options so we would never pigeon hole you to shop from one certain place, however just keep in mind if they are truly rug savvy or just their to sell? If they don't know the differences between a Bokhara and a Heriz or a Turkish vs a Moroccan, go somewhere else!!
Aubrey: Ditto to everything Anayah said! I think the edge detail is a dead giveaway too. A hand knotted serge detail (a tightly woven cord along the edge) looks more high end than a fabric wrapped edge. Also fringe. It's not always necessary but it looks nice, and is a characteristic of a well made piece.
Why are wool rugs SO expensive?
Aubrey: Hand knotting is truly an art. It is a technique that has been done for hundreds of years and takes patience and skill. Anything hand crafted like this, is going to be more expensive because of the labor required to make it. Hand tufting also makes the patterns sharper and more intricate, which makes them more desirable than machine tufted rugs.
Anayah: It's not just the quality of the rugs but also the age of the rug that determines cost. I guarantee if you wanted or attempted to hand knot a 9x12 rug you would raise your hands and go yup I'll pay! Whatever the cost! It's incredibly time consuming and diligent and unfortunately also a dying art. The amount of rugs out there that are authentic are rapidly being consumed but not as much new ones are being made.
Photo by Aubrey from a Rug Riad in Morocco
Why do I need a rug in my space at all?
Aubrey: Rugs are SO important to add that last layer to your space. It's basically like wearing a really great outfit with bad shoes. It adds color and pattern and timelessness to your space. In my opinion, an investment in a good rug is just as important as investing in your sofa. You'll have it for your lifetime and it will easily last into the next one.
Anayah: I always joke "rug made the room". This is definitely an over generalization to some degree, but it really can make or break a space. It creates a sense of warmth, it adds color, coziness, a sense of personalization rather than cookie cutter and really trust me, playing Legos with kiddos on a hard wooden floor versus your gorgeous Persian? Your knees will thank you if you heed our advice.
Photo by Anayah of Kyoreder of Rugs
Long story short - you won't regret your investment in a beautiful rug and I hope you've found our love letter to hand knotted rugs persuasive to say the least! Lastly, I can't say enough about Anayah's eye for rugs. She has a beautiful collection of things to offer and I highly recommend you checking out her website by clicking here.