more than a magic carpet

By+Shelly M. Kurz

Thinking of throwing a piece of art on the floor? If you decide on the beauty and practicality of a handmade oriental rug to enhance your décor, you’ll be in for many years of comfort, durability and aesthetic pleasure.

Once thought of just for royalty and the elite, oriental rugs have become more popular and attainable over the past 25 years as the industry has become more modernized. An increase in production has resulted in the price of these rugs coming down to a range that fits into most budgets. And as more and more homeowners look for alternatives to dust and dirt collecting wall-to-wall carpets, rugs have become a very environmentally correct choice for every room. Not only do they provide color, softening and soundproofing, they’re also easy to care for. And if you decide to sell your home, you simply roll your rug up and take it with you. When choosing the best quality rug to fit your home and your budget, there are a few things you should know before making your purchase.

First, buying a quality, hand-knotted wool rug is like buying fine jewelry. To the naked eye, it may not look much different than a mass-produced, machine-made knockoff so it’s important to know from whom you’re buying the rug. A reputation built on trust should be a prerequisite when choosing a rug dealer. If you don’t know any dealers, ask friends and family for recommendations. Remember that your rug is a piece of art, an investment, so make sure you invest in someone who stands behind what they sell. If you’re still not sure whether a rug is made by hand or machine, turn it over. “With a handmade rug, the pattern on the back should be as clear as the front,” explains Michael Tehrani of Hickory Oriental Rug Gallery, North Carolina. “Also, the rug should feel much denser. When you push your fingers into it you shouldn’t be able to reach the base. And since the fringe is the foundation of the loom, it should be attached to the rug, not sewn on.”

Second, look for the right size and pattern to fit your room. A professional rug dealer will be able to assist you with this once you tell him about the room, what its primary use is and what the existing patterns and colors are. For example, if your room is more monochromatic, you may want a rug that adds a splash of color. Or, if the fabrics and shapes in your room are large and bold, you’ll probably want a rug with a smaller, subtler pattern. Hand-knotted wool rugs are extremely durable and made to withstand a lot of activity. Keeping your rug clean is easy, too. According to Tehrani, “The best way to clean your rug is to sweep it with a broom but if that’s not practical, use the air suction attachment or the higher level of the rotary brush of your vacuum cleaner.” You’ll want to vacuum the backside of the rug once a year and, if necessary, let a professional wash your rug after three to five years.

Finally, and maybe the most important thing to remember when purchasing a rug, make sure you absolutely love it. Art should be a reflection of your personal taste so buy the one you love and it will bring you many years of pleasure. “The longevity and durability of having a rug you love will enable you to create many rooms around it instead of just buying something to match your room’s current décor and then changing it each time you change your room,” concludes Tehrani.