Vintage Area Rugs

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I love incorporating vintage area rugs into my home. They can add so much character to a room and work well across multiple décor styles. A vintage rug can instantly make a room feel warm and cozy. They’re durable, easy to clean, timeless and will never go out of style, making them well worth the price tag in my book! In this post, we’ll dive into what classifies a vintage area rug, where they usually come from, their characteristics, and some of my favorite places to purchase them, as well as some inspiration for a few rugs that I’ve styled in my own home.

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Hand-knotted vintage area run in primary bedroom.
Vintage rug in our bedroom is from Greenfront Rugs | Photography credit Caitlyn Motycka

What is a Vintage Area Rug?

The below characteristics can help you determine if the rug you’ve got your eye on is truly vintage:

  • The rug is between 20 and 100 years old. Anything older than 100 years is classified as antique.
  • To be authentic, the rug must be hand knotted and made from wool on either a cotton or wool foundation, making it extra durable.
  • There should be no backing.

Types of Vintage Rugs

Vintage rugs are typically identified by their place of origin. Different locations have different styles and it’s important to find the type that speaks to you and your own personal style.

  • Oushak: thin with subtle pastels; often with a center focal point and patterned border; have a worn look to them
  • Overdyed: single-colored with a subtle pattern; can be faded or bold; typically from Morocco, the Middle East, Central Asia, Northern India, Northern China, Tibet, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan
  • Agra: light and airy with faint patterns; typically colored with vegetable dye; come from Agra, India-home of the Taj Mahal
  • Swedish: simple patterns and muted palettes; usually have a folk-art vibe; best for minimalistic homes; come from Scandinavia
  • Moroccan: base material of black or white sheep’s wool; shaggy and very soft; final color and pattern is determined by their specific tribe of origin; come from Morocco
  • Kilim: thin and flat-woven with stripes or other geometric designs; originate in counties of the former Ottoman Empire, such as Turkey
  • Chador: a subset of Kilim rugs; traditionally used as a tent by Middle Eastern tribes; typically large with a tough weave, making them ideal for high-traffic areas

I tend to gravitate towards Oushak and Kilim rugs in my designs and spaces. They’re super versatile, adding character for your space. I always say, set a budget for your room design and splurge on a few items, then fill in the gaps with thrifted and budget-friendly items. I find myself splurging on rugs because they ground a space and play such an important role in design.

Vintage area rug in primary bedroom.

Why I Love Vintage Area Rugs

I like incorporating these rugs into my own home for so many reasons. They can add instant character to a room and come in so many unique styles that pair well with the ever-changing trends in home design. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including round, accent, area, and vintage runner rugs. While they do tend to be a bit more costly than a typical rug, vintage rugs are extra durable and so easy to maintain. They’re a great way to be sustainable and pair perfectly with some of my favorite thrifting finds! They also look even better as they age, given that you take proper care of them.

Vintage rug runner in primary bathroom.
Vintage rug in bathroom from Zuma Imports | Photography credit Caitlyn Motycka

Cleaning your Vintage Area Rug

Before following the steps below, consult with a local rug cleaning company. They might have different recommendations but I’ve found this process works great for the rugs in my home. Make sure you’re using gentle pressure and don’t scrub too hard because it can cause the fibers to loosen. Also, when drying in the sun, this can cause fading. ALWAYS TEST, TEST, TEST to confirm the dyes will not bleed.

  1. If possible, take the rug outside and shake out any loose debris. You can also hang it up and beat gently.
  2. Vacuum both sides of the rug; I recommend starting on the backside to release as much dirt and dust as possible. The goal is to get out as much dirt as we can before wetting the rug.
  3. Lay the rug out on a clean, flat surface (like the driveway).
  4. Fill a large bucket with laundry powder or soap and warm water.
  5. Pour mixture over your area rug and begin scrubbing with a soft bristled brush or non-shedding sponge.
  6. Leave the scrubbed rug to sit for about 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. This is the most important step to getting a clean rug, so make sure you rinse very well. I recommend a hose or pressure washer!
  7. Hang the carpet to dry outside, such as over a porch railing. You can also lay it flat on a table or floor, but be sure it’s somewhat lifted off the ground to prevent mold.
  8. Optional: brush down the rug once dry to soften any fibers.

Where to Purchase Vintage Rugs

You can find vintage rugs in so many places these days. I love buying them from Etsy, Zuma, Revival, and small shops on Instagram. By searching some of the terms listed above, you can nail down your own personal rug style to help narrow the search results. My favorite vintage rug style is Oushak-they’re perfectly subtle and play well with all the neutral tones in my coastal home, as seen primary bedroom, fall decor ideas, and bathroom.

You will find vintage rugs at most antique malls and some home decor stores have them as well. Zuma Imports just opened their new location which is a large building housing beautiful imported goods. They’re located in Mt. Pleasant but you can also shop their selection online. After shopping there, pop over to Celadon and Steven Shell Living where you’ll find a smaller selection of these rugs.

Not able to shop in the stores? Check out some of my favorite online options for vintage rugs below:

Revival Finds:

  1. Alaeddine
  2. Behrouz
  3. Arty
  4. Isacco
  5. Anjana
  6. Tanno

Etsy Finds:

  1. Aqua and tan vintage rug
  2. Soft blue and brown vintage rug
  3. Peach and blue vintage rug

The Look for Less

As I mentioned, vintage area rugs are definitely more of an investment piece (and for good reason!) but for those of us who want to score the vintage look at a fraction of the price, I’ve rounded up some great options below from Marshalls & T.J. Maxx. These area rugs and runners can bring you the character and warmth of a vintage rug at a more budget-friendly price point.

  1. Neutral area rug
  2. Navy and peach area rug
  3. Light blue and gray area rug
  4. Blue and gray runner
  5. Terracotta runner
  6. Gray and peach runner

How to Style Vintage Rugs

Vintage rugs looks great with any decor style. The rugs are timeless and can transition with different home decor styles as trends come and go. You’ll see them used in several designs like with farmhouse, modern, traditional, and coastal. Depending on your color preferences, they are red, muted, green, pastel, blue, and more. They really are versatile and can be used in every setting.

Have I talked you into incorporating a vintage rug into your home decor? If anything, I hope you will now understand they are timeless, durable, and easy to clean! Do you currently own one of your home? Let me know how it’s holding up for your household.

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