How To Pick A Vintage Rug

Vintage Karen Persian Rug from Casablanca by NuLoom

Going vintage really isn’t as new as many people think. For decades, folks furnishing their first apartment actively sought out second-hand furniture and home accents because they couldn’t afford to purchase brand new items for their living space. Those with do-it-yourself talents could easily refinish a piece for a fraction of what it would cost in a retail store. Thrift shops, garage sales, and markets were the place to shop.

When vintage became a hot trend, it quickly moved into the realm of home decor. Unlike many design trends that make a splash and fizzle, vintage appears to have longevity just like a quality find. While going vintage may not always be as budget-friendly as it once was, it is still a fashion-forward method to furnish a living or work space. However, when going vintage with rugs, it is important to go about it the proper way. So, before you start searching for the perfect vintage rug for a coveted spot, keep these five important factors in mind.

What Makes a Rug Vintage?

Distressed Mabelle from Bodrum by NuLoom


By definition, vintage describes an article of high-quality from the past. In the design world, antique and vintage aren’t necessarily used interchangeably. Vintage typically refers to an item that is approximately 25 to 50 years old. Older articles are classified as antiques. When shopping for a vintage rug, it is important to note the age of the rug in order to determine whether or not it is actually vintage. A rug may look vintage simply because it has seen better days and is in reality just about five to 10 years old.

Now that vintage is chic and trendy, it often comes with a price tag. An authentically vintage rug can run anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars and up depending on the size. Vintage style rugs (new rugs that copy vintage patterns and techniques), on the other hand, are much cheaper and easier to find.

Where to Look for Vintage Rugs

TZA04 from Tiziano by Kaleen

When vintage first become hot, options were limited to heading to local markets and second-hand shops to try and score the perfect vintage rug. Of course, if you happen to live in or near hubs like NYC, Seattle, Nashville Boston, and other larger cities, you will definitely have a lot more brick and mortar vintage or antique shops to scour. However, thanks to today’s technology and the worldwide web, options are plentiful for vintage carpets with the internet offering a wide variety to choose from.

When shopping for a rug online, it is still important to do your research. Make sure to google the rug seller and check customer reviews. Look for whether or not site customers were pleased with the purchase or if they were complaining the rugs were not authentic. This is, of course, easier to do with in-person shopping because you have the opportunity to handle the rug and ask face to face questions. Search using keywords specific to the vintage rug you are looking for like a runner or even a certain material or size.

Have a Specific Space in Mind

AMA05 from Amaranta by Kaleen

Since it is very easy to drown in vintage rug selections, make sure you begin your search with a certain spot in mind. Often, designers decorate around a rug or use it as the final piece in the process. Either way, you are coming at the vintage rug search with an area in mind. Perhaps a vintage area rug will be the icing on the redone foyer or adding a runner will totally highlight the new paint job in the hallway. Whether you are in the market for a vintage rug for the bedroom or mudroom, know the spot and the color scheme you envision because it is very easy to fall down the vintage rug rabbit hole.

Once you have the space, measure it carefully. Size does matter when it comes to rugs vintage or otherwise and be certain not to have the rug cover the entire space of the room. A good rule of thumb is, a rug should sit at least six inches from the wall. Of course, small area vintage rugs make for ideal accents too and can be a lot of fun especially when you find one at an awesome price.

Signs the Vintage Rug is a Great Find

Vintage Karen Persian Rug from Casablanca by NuLoom

When going vintage for a rug, it is important to have realistic expectations. A vintage rug is not brand new, which means it will show signs of wear and tear along with fading. While machine rugs are attractive, if your goal is to go vintage, then make sure the rug is hand-woven or hand-knotted from high-quality natural materials like wool, cotton, silk, and jute. Finding a hand-woven vintage rug from hand-spun yarn is truly a score.

Machine-made rugs are usually described as being “power loomed” or “tufted”. While this is perfectly acceptable if you’re looking for a new rug, if you want true vintage, stay clear of rugs that have been deliberately faded to appear vintage from chemicals and repeated washings.

Things to Avoid

Things To Avoid

Since you are going vintage you understand the rug is going to have tell-tale signs of usage, but some signs should be avoided at all costs. Hardcore stains are a major no. While fading is fine, if any area of the rug looks threadbare, pass. The same can be said for frayed ends. This is actually the most difficult and costly part of a rug to repair and most folks know that once a rug starts to unravel from the edge it does not take long for the thread to pile up. Walk away from a rug that has already had a patch job. Since true vintage rugs do not have a backing if the bottom and the top of the rug seem to look and feel differently, move on. This is a red flag as well.

As with anything else in your home, you have to love it and that includes your vintage rug. While you may absolutely love the vintage find you scored, someone else may wonder why the rug isn’t on the curb.

If you decide a truly vintage rug isn’t worth the effort, try looking for a new rug in a shabby chic or bohemian style. These rugs will save you time and money.

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