March 3, 2014

Vintage Rugs 101 with Old New House


I'm so excited to introduce you to Melissa + Dave, the couple behind Old New House, a shop specializing in treasures - new and old - for your home.

photo source

You might recognize Old New House as a featured Etsy seller in 2012.  Now you can also find the beautiful wares from their New York-based shop on their own website in addition to their Etsy shop.  I'm so thrilled for the success Melissa and Dave have enjoyed because they are so hard-working and talented.  A nifty little tidbit: LargeRugsCarpets.com, my first blog sponsor, is Dave's family's business!  I'm so touched that they're long-time fans of Dans le Townhouse.  I'll be celebrating their shop, highlighting my picks for the next few months, and kicking things off with an interview today.  I took the opportunity to pick Dave's brain about vintage and antique rugs and learned a LOT.  Read on for the full scoop.  

Your store, Old New House, is gorgeous.  Tell me a little about it.

We sell antiques, vintage and new original creations of our own design.  The Old New House shop represents us and is our very personally curated collection of unique items with a focus on antique and vintage rugs, as well as wall art and custom furnishings.

What's around the corner for Old New House?

At our core, we are artists.  The plan is to delve further into our ONH originals section and run with the ideas we feel are ripe.

Eames Chair
Melissa, you have such a great eye for finding amazing vintage pieces - especially your incredible luck finding unique chairs.  I am salivating over your Eames First Production PAW chair.  What is your favorite piece in the shop right now?
  
Thank you, and I have been salivating over it myself ever since we acquired it and I just really love old chairs. We take them for granted because they are everywhere but they are such design staples of everyday life. Right now I am really feeling wall art also and as a photographer, I have been completely smitten with the insanely awesome antique DR Peretti Griva bromoil transfer collection we have in the shop – it is a process of photography print that I had never heard of before and the dreamy ephemeral effect is timeless and captivating.

Large Antique Kilim Pillow
Your rug pillows, especially the Antique Kilim Pillow, are so stunning and I think it's a great way to preserve a piece of rug that may have damage or only be a fragment.  What inspired you to start creating these one-of-a-kind pillows?

When my husband and I first started acquiring rugs, I found myself gravitating towards the old beat up, worn and end of the road type rugs – ones that a collector like Dave doesn’t really want to deal with because they are fragile and just not in good shape. I like feeling like a savior to them in some way, because after all, the pieces that are left are quite beautiful! Rug fragment pillows are nothing new but I like finding the diamonds in the rough, the best and most unique rug remnants I can get my hands on. I don’t want just any old fragments, I hunt for spectacular pieces and I mend them very lovingly with nice fabric and luxurious kapok filling, so that they can be like new again and ultra special to boot.

Dave, you're a 5th generation rug man with an impressive family history.  It's incredible to think that your family has been manufacturing, designing, and importing rugs since the mid-1800s!  Rugs are something I know nothing about and I'm sure my readers would love to learn more too.  First things first, which rug in the Old New House shop is your favorite and why?
 
I am very fond of the 4x7 Kashan.  If we had a large enough area to hang it I would prefer to not sell it! It is a very rare pairing of rug type and design. 

Antique Mohtashem 4x7  Kashan
What is the most unique rug you've come across?
 
I always thought this antique silk Heriz was a super unique rug.  Especially with the armorial theme atop a gentle soft blue field, it always sort of intrigued me, although there are a lot of carpets that are quite unusual and linger.

What should someone think about where they are trying to find the perfect size rug for a space?  Do you and Melissa have any guidelines?

For many years the rule of thumb was to buy the largest possible rug.  There are many instances where this is the right way to go, however, we like to urge people to buy the smallest rug, or several small rugs, if appropriate for the space.  It’s a fun way to diversify your investment and also have more versatile decorating ability down the road. 

Antique Farahan Sarouk Persian Rug
What makes a vintage or antique rug superior to a newer one?
 
I don’t know if someone could really make the claim of superiority of old rugs vs. new, but consistently antique and vintage rugs deliver a flash of history a new rug can simply not emulate.  I believe many of the vintage and antique rugs we offer in our shop may be considered proportionately better values than many new rugs made today.  There truly is something so special about an item with a story that comes with it and that is what certainly makes an old rug more charismatic than a new one. 

What qualities make for a good vintage rug?  What should buyers pay attention to when they're shopping?
 
A good vintage rug is one that you find yourself connecting with.  It is satisfying to your eye – the rug will evoke a feeling or emotion.  Perhaps you are unsure of why exactly you like it, but you realize that you do.  All of the carpets we offer are individually hand selected and acquired only if they meet specific criteria - which is authenticity, amazing aesthetic, great tone-on-tone or excellent contrast, or unusual yet desirable character.  Our collection is carefully assembled to make it easier for our customers to shop and find the connection to their future rug.

What sort of factors impact the price of a rug?
 
Often the most common factors influencing price include: age, rarity, condition, origin, aesthetic, and at times, size.  Going deeper, provenance of ownership or traceable production may reinforce saleability, which in turn may increase the value.

Blue Vintage Rug
What kind of care do you recommend for a vintage rug?  Can they be used in high traffic areas or in homes with pets?
 
Care is very easy.  Vintage rugs are very compatible with everyday life, and a well taken care of vintage rug will pay aesthetic dividends for years to come.  A vintage rug should be professionally washed at a washing plant every 2-5 years, or as needed.  Vacuuming should be performed once a week in a moderate traffic area, or on an as-needed basis.  Delicate rugs may simply be vacuumed with a suction vacuum or shaken off outdoors.  Small spots or spills can be dabbed up or scraped off and we suggest you go with as mild a cleaning treatment as possible.

A fine hand knotted rug is meant to last many, many years.  It’s not uncommon to see carpets that are 40, 60, 100 or even 120 years old or more still being used in moderate traffic areas of the home.  Be cautious of pets that scratch at rugs; while hand knotted rugs are certainly resilient, under repeated agitation from sharp claws they will likely sustain damage.  Pet stains are also particularly difficult to remove from a rug, so roll up the rug for the new puppy!

Antique Persian Runner
This last question will definitely reveal my naivetéCan you give me a crash course in understanding vintage and antique rugs?  I don't know what a Caucasian rug or Persian Hamadan rug is.  I see your beautiful rugs and think just that, "they're so beautiful."  Are they identified by pattern or region?  I have no idea how to classify or identify rugs - help me be a little more savvy.

This is actually a very important question.  Carpets are primarily named after:

1. The town, city or larger region woven.  As some attributions are estimations, it’s not uncommon for a rug to be identified by a more general designation.  For example, a Caucasian carpet would be a carpet woven in the Caucasus.  Going further, a Dagestan rug is a type of rug made in the Caucasus.  This rug may be conveyed as a Caucasian or Dagestan rug.  Each rug has it’s own character and unique attributes. Often, the more precise the identification, the more relatable to other rugs of that type the carpet may be.  In the larger scope of rugs, this can enable comparative analysis – how rare or common is the rug for its type.

2. The tribe or people who weave, or the firm who contracted the weavers.  The Qashqai for example are known in history as a nomadic pastorialists – a traveling people tending to their flocks, moving north to south in Iran based on the time of year.  Although now largely sedentary, their weaving is not exclusive to just one city, town or region – Their rugs are often simply called “Qashqai rugs”.

3. The type of style, motif or general classification of carpet. This is tricky since a carpet can be called a Persian ____ - but the real question is does the description align with the actual origin of weaving.  It’s not uncommon to find a Persian design made by Pakistani weavers and you may find the tag to indicating Kashan.  Kashan is a city in Persia, and while the rug may have a Kashan design, if it is made in Pakistan it is not a Persian rug.  If there is ever question, ask for clarity.

Although certain types of rugs may have a solid reputation, this does not mean across the board that type of carpet is superior to another.  You should always purchase what you are drawn to! 

A huge thanks to Melissa and Dave for answering my questions.  If you want to ask them anything, feel free to leave a question in the comments below, or drop them a line: md@oldnewhouse.com.  

8 comments:

  1. A) I totally learned a bunch of stuff that I didn't know, like Persian referring not to a style but the place a rug was made!
    B) What gorgeous gorgeous pairings with the Eames chairs and the vintage rugs!

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    1. Hi Brynne! I always thought Persian rugs were a style, too, and I think that comes from companies mislabeling them. I learned a lot too, although I know this is only the teeniest, tiniest sliver of what there is to know.

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  2. Thanks so much Tanya for the feature and the support! :-)

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  3. I'm looking forward to reviewing this excellent info when I finally get to the point where I can put in a rug! Right now we are renovating my mother's little house, which is in sore need of paint before the floors can be finished... And, as a fellow white-paint enthusiast, I need suggestions. What brand/shade of white have you found to work best for you, Tanya? Many thanks!

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    1. I used Behr's Snowfall in the townhouse, and had it colour-matched for the lakehouse. It's a nice white: clean and crisp, but not too cold. I used Glidden for the lakehouse which was a very thin paint. It didn't spatter much, but it needed three coats in some places. I do like Behr brand paint, although there are many I have not tried. I've used Benjamin Moore and a couple of others but I'm still experimenting. The Behr, so far, has been the smoothest. I am finding I like a paint+primer in one for more even coverage, no matter the brand. Even though it costs a bit more, I use less. Hope this helps! When it doubt, try a test pot of a few contenders. Also, folks at the paint department can tell you which whites have a certain colour undertone. I think my colour has a half shot of black and a half shot of ochre. So strange! Happy painting!!

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    2. Thank you, thank you! I'm auditioning paint chips right now and almost everything looks dingy in the room I most need to brighten up. I've got a $25 gift certificate for another store, but if I can get a paint chip for Snowfall, I'm sure I can get it matched.

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    3. I have found this trouble also: a lot of whites look kind of dirty. I hope you're able to track down a chip and I hope it works for you. I'm going to try CIL's white on white in a few weeks, which looks promising - kind of a creamy white. But Snowfall has been my go-to.

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