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It’s Educational: Rugs That Go With Anything

Welcome to Rug University… or more likely, Rug Kindergarten. The art and craft of weaving carpets is centuries old and even though I have spent years off and on reading about rugs, my knowledge is just a blip on the radar of fiber history. People who really know their stuff usually possess deep generational knowledge about the subject. I am just a crazy person who loves rugs and I’m sure I’ll say something stupid somewhere. Oh well. What I can offer you is information on how and where to buy, and hopefully how not to get ripped off.

Deal? Let’s do this.

For this series of rugucational posts I’m only going to deal with woven natural fiber rugs, or rugs that do not have a latex/canvas backing. They could be made of wool, or cotton, or other natural fibers, but they have no backing and the design is visible on both sides.

This is the backside of my handwoven (knotted) malayer rug.

I’ve been moving away from tufted (latex/canvas backed) wool rugs and towards handwoven wool, cotton, and jute rugs for a while now. Reading The Rug Chick’s blog about how shoddily (and stinkily) many tufted rugs are produced totally confirmed a lot of my fears about mass produced wool rugs. I’m not saying all tufted rugs are poorly made — I’m very happy with the Safavieh leopard rug in our front room:

I’m just saying I prefer to spend my skrillaz on rugs that have the potential to last for decades… if my boys don’t burn holes in them first, that is.

Anyway, today let’s talk about woven rugs that will go with anything. These are your cheap and chic workhorses that generally come in under $5 sq/ft — sometimes a lot less.

rugs nazmiyal oushak

It’s a good idea to decorate a room from the ground up. If you choose your rug first, you’ll never have a problem finding fabrics and (even easier) paint colors to coordinate. Working from the opposite direction really narrows your opportunities for interesting and hopefully cheap rugs. Trust me — I found out the hard way.

This post goes out to all the peeps like me who need a rug to play nice with the stuff they already have.

A solid field is the very easiest thing to decorate around. I suspect that’s why jute/sisal/seagrass rugs are so popular. Plus they can be pretty inexpensive and they hide dirt well. Of the three, seagrass is the best to clean but the most expensive, although you can custom order seagrass rugs in any size with dozens of border options at The Perfect Rug for a very reasonable price. Jute is second, and sisal is the pits of hell. To maximize your cost/benefit ratio, you can buy jute and get it from Overstock (wait for a 10% off sale and try to stack a coupon on top) or get it from RugsUSA during one of their 50% sales.

This handsome guy is $180 for an 8×10 HERE.

I don’t consider these to be forever rugs, but natural fiber rugs definitely deserve consideration. I like how they can casual up a room and add a natural element, which is especially nice if you don’t already have wood floors.

rugs sheepskin-sisal-hide

Plus these rugs layer up right pretty and they can be so cheap.

A very simple geometric that runs edge to edge is the next easiest to decorate around. I put wool Moroccan beni ourains in this class. MFAMB just did a round up on cheap sources HERE so I won’t cover that ground again.

beni ourain

Any furniture, any colors, almost any fabrics will do. Your rug will be an unsanitary disaster in no time, but that’s another story.

I am constantly picking pollen and leaves out of the West Elm faux beni in our very low traffic nursery. It sure is cute, though. Don’t spend much on this type of a rug, and for the love of all that is holy buy something small enough to shake it out every now and then.

All over patterns (like the one I just bought, for example) are also relatively easy to decorate around because they have no borders and no center medallions — things that can make furniture placement tricky.

rugs Hollywood+Regency+Living+Room+grand+living+KLOmIYEt1hwl

Tony Duquette makes it look easy, but let’s face it — nothing about this room is easy.

If you have a wonky inflexible furniture plan and buying a rug is stressing you out, an allover design is your friend.

madeleine weinrib

I don’t hate this Madeleine Weinrib rug, but I personally would never buy a giant cotton rug I couldn’t throw in the washing machine. You want wool — delicious stain repellent wool.

rugs overstock

Dhurries (aka kilims, aka flatweave rugs) are relatively inexpensive because they use fewer materials than full pile rugs. This wool dhurrie came from overstock and it’s dirt cheap — $262 for an 8×10. Even Ikea can’t beat that price. Overstock actually has a multitude of well priced wool flatweaves in various colors and patterns. I’m partial to striped or tribal versions, personally… trellis and chevron are feeling pretty dated.

rugs eskayel

This looks like it might be a wool kilim. I would hit that. Dhurries are nice because they can be used on both sides before they need to be washed. I like to think that a wool dhurrie rug could last for decades if padded, rotated and treated to the occasional bath.

If you buy a dhurrie, a good rug pad is a must. I’ve shopped around and this one from overstock is the best I’ve found. It’s soft, squishy, does the job and doesn’t mark up my wood floors.

The next level of quality and design represents a fairly significant jump in expense. I’m talking about Tibetan type rugs.

rugs tibetan tiger

I wish I were talking about Tibetan tiger rugs, but a) they aren’t cheap and b) they don’t exactly go with just anything.

Who am I kidding? This goes with everything.

But really I’m talking more about tone on tone hand knotted wool Tibetans:

rugs tibetan

This may or may not be a Tibetan, but they are often woven in simple muted patterns.

This one is silk and wool. Unlike other handwoven (hand knotted) wool pile rugs, they do not have fringe.

Warning: there are a lot of creepy 80s Memphis wannabe patterned Tibetan rugs out there. Don’t buy them.

Anyway, “Tibetan” rugs are interesting in that they aren’t made in Tibet (because of Chinese occupation). Most are made in India by Tibetan and Nepalese workers… or not. The could also just be handknotted Indian rugs made in a “Tibetan style.” I don’t really have a problem with that as long as the wool is nice quality and it’s handmade. Just don’t pay $8000 for a rug unless you get an appraisal.

Shouldn’t be an issue, right?

I bought mine off Ebay from Pakobel Rugs. He doesn’t have any Tibetan/Nepalese (he spells it “Napalese”) rugs right now, but you should check back since he gets them in waves. I HIGHLY recommend him — totally professional and courteous.

In the meantime, may I suggest this 8×10 handknotted Tibetan style rug for $375? So awesome with kelly green and white. Available HERE from brandrugs on ebay.

I would buy from them because they have a 100% positive feedback rating. Also, all good pro ebay rug dealers will give you a 14 day return option. It’s a safety net that could be expensive to use (I have return shipped a rug and it’s not cheap), but it’s good to have just in case. Also, use paypal in case you need an extra level of protection for disputes.

The last category of neutral rugs I have the strength and endurance to tackle today is the beloved Turkish Oushak.

rugs darryl carter oushak

This super light super subtly patterned rug is an antique Oushak (Ushak). Every decorator and their mama wants an antique Oushak because it goes with anything and it adds that certain handmade, natural/organic element every room needs.

Problem is, a real antique (80+ years old) Oushak is expensive… even on ebay. You can, however, buy a newish one at a competitive price. They will most likely be knotted in India or Pakistan (Peshawar), but they still have the soft colors and large scale patterns that work with a variety of decorating styles. I like Rug Emporium’s listings:

He lists new Oushak type rugs every day. Some are blue, some green, some very light and neutral. I’d wait for a light neutral one with an allover pattern (no center medallion) to pop up. 9x12s tend to close in the $500-700 range, which is not bad for a large hand knotted rug.

Just fyi, Oushaks can also come in fabulous pastel colors that may not go with everything but are still awesome and amazing. Here’s a rug I wish I had bought… it’s an actual vintage Turkish rug and it is HUGE (like 10×16). It went for over 1K which is totally worth it, but totally out of my price range. It sure is good, though.

Can you even imagine how long it would take to make a giant rug like that?

Forever, that’s how long. And that’s why hand knotted rugs are expensive.

That’s all I have for today. Thanks for reading this giant long novel. I hope you’re still awake.

For my next installment I’m planning a post on purchasing Persian type rugs. Excitement! And I also have a post in the works about other kinds of fancy antique rugs.

Let me know if there’s anything specific you want to see and I’ll try to work it in.

Until then, happy shopping!

[Images via pinterest]

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Spending Binge!

After all the hemming and hawing and threatening and waffling I’ve been doing recently, I finally bought something that cost more than $2 at the thrift store — a new rug. Well, a really-old-but-new-to-me-rug. Mostly this happened because Karly is buying a new rug. In my infinite kindness and generosity, I started “helping” her look at rugs, which actually entailed very little other than selfishly hoarding rugs in my Ebay bid basket.

After enduring a day of no sleep cranky toddler, I became fed up with whining in general (mine included) and I pulled the trigger. This all occurred while riding home with an overly full stomach after a very delicious gumbo dinner, so it is possible my brain was destroyed by an overabundance of impatience, salt and sassafrass, but I don’t think so. Let’s check out the goods.

malayer rug

Oh, I really really hope I like it! You never know with these crazy Ebay rugs, and this one is antique with some funky abrash issues:

persian malayer

Plus I really hope the color is ok. The listing says it’s rust, which should jibe with this painting:

erin williamson living room

But if that rug is actually salmon, I am skrewed. I also hope the fancy new-old rug will be ok with our couch, because if it’s not then I will just have to buy another couch.

pace chrome glass table

I’m also also thinking about switching our marble coffee table out for this Pace table that I bought 8 million years ago (you can read all about that crazy saga here), but I’m worried the chrome will make all the brass look weird… I guess I’ll just have to buy new lamps, too.

And this, my friends, is how I will end up living a life of poverty. Damn, you decorating domino effect.

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Save Me From Myself

Not even 4 days back into the design blogging lifestyle and I’m already trying to justify a $650 coffee table purchase.  Let’s start with some back story:  Some of you may remember that I’ve been living large with the panthers for the better part of 2 years:

But since the introduction of the tiny blessing baby Eero into my life, I’ve come to realize that the wobbly glass topped felines may not be the best-baby-walk-trainer out there.  After several frantic craigslist and ebay linked emails with Erin I found this:

$650 of pure, swirly, formica and bronze cocktail table magic (plus $180 shipping).  I tried.  I really really tried to justify this purchase but if I were going to spend $830 on a coffee table, would this be the one?  Ok, yeah, probably.  Can you guys save me from myself, or is this actually justifiable keeping in mind that my budget was $200? Share your wisdom.  Pretty please.

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Reader Help: Calling All Restoration Experts (That Means You)

My new virtual bud and soon to be Austinite Rosie just sent me an email brimming with urgency, and when I saw the item in question my head almost exploded. Check it:

“Looking for some sound advice: I bought the attached chrome/mirrored sideboard on Ebay, and was chagrined to find that the seller left out some condition details: there’s a light coating of hardened schmutz in various spots on the doors (Actually somewhat visible in the pic). I tried to scrape it off (bad idea) and am considering Goof-off, but am nervous about using it. Any other ideas?”

First of all, ZOMG! Did you really just buy that? Because I feel like it should belong to me…

It sure looks a lot like the mirrored credenza in one of my favorite rooms of all time, designed by Laura Day. I also feel like I have seen this beaut in another prominently featured interior, but I can’t remember where… if you know what I’m prattling on about, send me a link and I’ll post the pic. You will also receive my eternal gratitude for rescuing me from an Alzheimersish haze.

Ok, back to the matter at hand.

So I am having issues focusing on Rosie’s request for help because I can’t see through my angry tears of envy, but I’m going to try my best. First of all, do not scrape! The surface is fragile and can be scratched. Rosie says that the goo is mostly on the chrome parts, so she might have luck buffing it out with a balled up piece of foil, but I’m not an expert.

I know several of you out there have knowledge in this area, so if you know how to return this gorgeous hunk of bling to its pristine glory, let us know.

Meanwhile, I am going to try to figure out how to steal something for which there is no known location…

Rosie, maybe you better not move to Austin, after all.

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10 Things That Make Me Happy

I’ve been tagged by lovely Sherri of The Claw to play a little game, and hooray! lucky for everyone reading this, I love games. I’m supposed to list 10 things that make me happy, and the hardest part was whittling down a universe of goodness into an earth sized post. Let’s get this party started, right? Quickly!

#1. SLEEP

amazing bedroom

Rees Roberts

Having a baby means never sleeping again. Ever. Just thinking about cozying up in that bed and snoozing for eight straight hours makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And don’t think I’m so sleep deprived that my glazy eyes missed that rock wall. After I wake from my beauty sleep, I plan to strap on a harness and scale that puppy… or maybe just sleep some more.

#2. FRANCIS BACON’S ART STUDIO

FRANCIS BACON

Francis Bacon

Artists with clean work spaces are like studio gangstas. You gotta make a mess to get shit done, yo… or at least that’s what I tell myself when my house looks like this. Obviously, I am getting A LOT of shit done.

#3. FANTASY LITTLE CABIN IN THE WOODS

cabin

OWI

Ok, so maybe it’s a not so little cabin, but let’s face it — asceticism was never my strong suit. I need polished floors and mod furnishings to make my stay in the wild worthwhile. Oh, and big fat windows from which I can view The Hunny doing his hot lumberjack routine outside (while I rest comfortably indoors, sipping a cocktail, thank you very much).

#4. TRAVEL

prague

I took this picture about four years ago, and the cathedrals of Prague still set my flying buttresses atingle whenever I look at them. Someday we’ll go somewhere again. Someday.

#5. LIGHTING

ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST

If the Lampshade Fits

I could probably open up a lighting store with just my leftover lamps and chandeliers. I can’t walk into a thrift store without buying something electric, and lately I’ve been taking my light lust to Ebay in the hopes of snagging something as magical as this chandelier. Oh, and I’ll also take the sideboard, the chairs, and the MARBLE wall. I’m passing on the dining table, because I don’t want anyone to think I buy my furniture at Office Depot.

#6. PIERRE CARDIN

pierre cardin

Pierre Cardin

Did someone say Ebay? Well, I am currently OBSESSED with Pierre Cardin anything — clothes, jewelry, and most importantly, furniture. The hot credenza in this pic is currently up along with an entire bedroom set in mint condition. If you have a ton of cash, let me try to talk you into buying it… you know it would look amazing in your house.

#7. BARGAINS

erin williamson

Hell yes, you know I love me some bargains! My house would be a barren wasteland without the bountiful trifecta of Craigslist, Ebay and thrift stores. That goes for the hoop chairs, Brian the golden deer, the marble and teak coffee table, the teak plantstand, the couch, etc. But not the rug. I can’t do a recycled rug. Gross.

#8. BIG CRAZY ART

marilyn minter

OWI

I have a thing for big stuff. That sounds dirty, and maybe it is. After all, is it properly chaste to find my pulse racing at the sight of this colossal Marilyn Minter painting? I think not.

#9. SILVER AND GOLD

silver and gold togos

Richard Powers

And what’s even better than silver and gold? Silver and gold TOGO COUCHES. Raina is probably having a heart attack right now. Sorry, babe!

#10. SWEET BABY IKE

ike roy

You suckas didn’t think you were going to make it through this post without seeing a picture of Ike, did you? This one was taken on Christmas Eve in Hawaii, when we were out visiting my family. He’s pretty cute, so I think we’re going to keep him — at least until puberty attacks.

That’s it for the things that make me happy. Ok, there are a zillion more, but I ain’t got time for all that. If one of you dudes want to play the game, let me know in the comments and I’ll hook you up with a shoutout.

**********************************************************************

Well hootie hoo, guess what? I’m twisting Alison of Lipstick On Your Teeth‘s rubber arm and forcing her to play along. Go get ‘em, tiger!

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