Handmade can mean many things. Price and quality depend on a number of factors in San Diego.
Hand tufted: A tufted rug is made using a mechanical tufting tool that secures and inserts the yarns in the backing, often canvas. Since the tufted yarns are not securely enclosed by a knot, the backs of these rugs are usually sprayed or painted with adhesives to secure the pile yarn. These rugs cannot be truly called “Persian rugs.”
Hand knotted: In a hand-knotted rug, each yarn is individually tied in a knot by the weaver. Each knot of yarn is tied securely around two or three strands of warp yarn, which is the vertical yarn set up initially on the loom as the basis for the rug that will be woven upon it. This is a completely handmade process, no mechanical tools are used.
A hand-knotted area rug will be more expensive than a tufted rug. In addition, a hand-knotted rug made in the crossed style of weaving is more time-consuming and durable (and expensive) than an uncrossed rug.
Shearing: After the rug is woven, overall shearing of the pile is done by hand, to an even depth or to variations of textural depth specified by the designer. Shapes within the overall design are usually incised, cut around carefully by hand to create dimension and clarity of design.
Knot count: This term refers to “knots per square inch.” The more detailed and complex the design, and the finer/thinner the wool, the more knots are required for clarity of color and design. High-quality rugs usually range from 50 to 100 knots per inch. Imagine the work that goes into that kind of hand weaving. Knot density will affect the cost of the rug.
When we moved a few months ago from our fairly small, thoroughly carpeted house to our new home, we were thrilled with the lovely old oak floors. We had the floors cleaned and polished before we moved in, and have lived with the rich, warm glow of the bare wood ever since. But now it's starting to get cold, we're all inside more and the kids (and the cats) are skidding crazily through the hallways when they run in the house. Also, it bothers me that my voice echoes even in the relatively small space of my office. It's definitely time to buy some area rugs.
I've never purchased a rug in my life and have the feeling that it's like buying a car: The less you know the more you pay. I called three different experts for advice on where to begin. While they disagreed on just a few points (most notably whether or not the rug should be the first or last purchase in designing a room), they offered loads of helpful tips.
- John Kurtz, former host of the PBS show Art Underfoot, is the designer for New Moon, a rug company he owns in Wilmington, Del.
- Karl Lohnes, interior designer in Toronto and co-host of HGTV's This Small Space
- Patrick J. Baglino, Jr., a Washington-based interior designer who was recently voted one of America's top young designers by House Beautiful.
You should buy the best rug you can afford, even it means living with bare floors while you save up your pennies. Look for good quality natural materials such as wool and silk. A high-quality wool rug will wear well and even look better over time, says Kurtz. "Wool has the capacity to develop its own patina through exposure to light and air and feet walking on it. It's like having a wonderful piece of wood furniture and rubbing your hand over it every day."
Sisal, jute and grass rugs often cost less, but are difficult to clean and don't last as long. "If you spill red wine on it, that rug is gone," says Baglino.
In general, use the cost of the other furniture in the room as a guideline for how much to spend, says Lohnes. In the living room, for instance, the rug should cost as much as the sofa, or slightly more. (Since our 12-year-old sofa has been spilled and spat up on through a decade of kids, I'm using what I'd spend on a new sofa as a guideline.) Set your price limit before you shop then add 10 percent, so you have some flexibility in that range.
Lohnes' rule of thumb: Choose a rug that is two feet shorter than the smallest wall in the room. So for my 10 x12-foot office, I should look at rugs no more than eight feet wide. For our bare front hallway, Lohnes says I should swing open the front door and then measure the floor from that point, so the first three feet or so remain clear. Hall rugs should have at least six inches of floor showing on all sides.
Dining room rugs should extend at least 18 inches beyond the edge of the table so that the rug accommodates the dining chairs. In bedrooms, try runners at each side and even the foot of the bed, or place a rug one-third of the way under the bed so the rest of the rug creates a nice mat at the bottom of the bed.
In large rooms, rugs should fit the configuration of the room and furniture. Our 15 x 20 foot living room, for example, is arranged in one large conversation area, so we should look for a rug to cover and frame that entire area, big enough so that at least the front third of the furniture sits on the rug. A big room set up with two smaller conversation areas would look best with two separate rugs, as long as they're linked by color or material (they don't have to match exactly).
Start by shopping with your eyes — not your wallet — so you know what you want. "Look in high-end magazines for ideas about what great interiors have on their floors," says Kurtz. If it?s an antique it will be very expensive, but there are probably contemporary versions of the same rug.
Baglino says he would stay away from department stores ("the markup is HUGE") and "would always avoid the `Going out of business' rug sale." Look for name brand retailers and manufacturers, such as Karastan, Royal Intercontinental, Merida Meridian, Elson and Tufenkian and Rug and Roll.
Ask friends for referrals to good rug dealers. And while all the experts emphasize the importance of seeing and touching and experiencing a good rug before you buy, they also suggest browsing online to get a feel for designs and colors and trends. I found lots of options at www.arearugsonline.com and www.rugandroll.com, as well as the web sites of some of the makers listed above.
The most important consideration in buying a rug is finding something that "has a beating heart and is going to please you every time you look at it," says Kurtz. "A great rug, a place to sit, a can of paint and you're done."
What if you have the opposite dilemma: you own great area rugs but buy a new house with wall-to-wall carpet? If they're really beautiful rugs, hang them on the walls, the experts say. In general, putting area rugs down over carpet just doesn't work, unless you have wall-to-wall carpeting with very low pile. Another suggestion: If you own a beautiful area rug, "it's great incentive to tear up the carpeting in at least one room and put down hardwood floors," says Kurtz.
We are going to talk about vintage rugs, and vintage rugs is a very unique product that's really popular today. A lot of people think that vintage rugs arerugs that were old rugs that are aged and have been around for a long time and theyare basically antiques, or maybe they are not antiques or…they really don't know what the difference between a vintage rug and an antique rug is. A vintage rug is a rug that's made to look old. It has what we call a vintage -- like in jeanstoday where they'll wear it out and make it look like it's been, you know, around fora hundred years and it's got holes in it and things of that nature. Where, in a rug, basically what we do is wetake an old Persian rug -- usually, I mean it could be any rug, it doesn't have to bethat, it could be a machine made rug, it doesn’t really matter -- basically we shear it downto the back so it's almost zero pile. We’ll will take it and then we’ll stripthe color. Usually it's some kind of caustic or chemicalsthat we use in order to strip the color out, so once you get done, it’s a rug that basicallyhas no color in it. It's just basically shadows of grays and brownsmostly, and maybe hints or hues of blues and blacks, that kind of show the design whichwas woven into it originally. You have taken a perfectly brand new rug,very bright and colorful, and you have taken all the color out of it that point. Then there's also a process that we do alsowhat we call over-dyeing, and that can also be part of that vintage look. The rug behind me is an example of basicallya vintage rug that's been over-dyed. So we’ve take a 30-year old Persian rug,and basically what we've done is stripped it down, sheared it, recolored it to makeit more into today's world. It is so popular, I can't even explain howpopular it is. Mainly because it looks so real, it looksso worn, it looks so inviting, and also it's just a dream to decorate around. You can imagine that you're not like mostoriental rugs with a lot of patterns and color, you know, popping off the rug. This is a rug that's very subtle and you backoff of it 10 to 15 feet into the room, you really don't even see the pattern. You just see the beautiful warmth of the coloringand the irregularities to those colorings. What you are seeing in the back, the whitestuff, that is actually the foundation of the rug popping through, because again youare at zero pile, so there's little imperfections that happen because of that. Also, there are also some damages done tothat as well, so we correct those damages as best that can be done, and so part of thevintage thing is to have those holes in them or wornness in them or repairs in them. Either you get it or you don't, I always havecustomers who get it home and they'll realize, ''Hey, it looks like it's been repaired”. Yes, it has, and it's been done professionally,it's going to hold up, but a lot of people are saying, ''I want my money back''. I can understand that too, and we unfortunatelyhave to accept that that is part of them not understanding the product, and we didn't reallyexplain it enough, but it really is a gorgeous product that allows us to take rugs that are…notselling, basically, and convert them into a very popular, hot item, that has a lot of appeal. So that's what a vintage rug or an over-dyedrug can be.
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