There are many things to look for when you want to buy an Oriental rug. It is important to understand the process fully in order to be sure of your investment.
A beautiful Oriental rug should be seen as a piece of art work. It is functional as a floor covering but should also be enjoyed as art for its beauty and its appreciation in value. Many Oriental rugs stand the test of time and are passed down through three or four family generations. By 50 years old, an oriental rug is considered semi-antique and by 100 years old it is considered an antique.
Three staples of an Oriental Rug
- must be made of natural fibers (wool, cotton or silk)*
- must be woven by hand**
- must have been made in Asia (this includes Iran, India, Russia, China, Tibet, Nepal and Morocco)
*Note that an Oriental rug can be authentic but lacking in quality if it is made with poor quality fibers, running dyes or poor workmanship.
**Machine made Oriental design rugs are like “knock offs” most lack the enduring quality of a hand knotted rug. They typically last about 20 years versus 100 or more. The exception from a “rug cleaners” point of view is an American made machine woven rug manufactured by Karastan.
Signs of Quality in an Oriental Rug
- The rug should lie smoothly on the floor without puckering, wrinkling or rippling
- The width dimensions should match on its opposite side
- The weave should be consistent throughout (look underneath to catch flaws)
- The colors should be bright and consistent throughout (check the colors on the bottom of the rug to see if the top has faded)
- The wool should be from long-staple, high elevation flocks
- The edges and ends of the rug should be straight without any fraying
- Fringe should be straight and evenly cut
- Fringeless ends should be neat and secure
- The knot count is the number of knots tied in each square inch of the rug and can vary from 20 to 500. Typically, the higher the count the more valuable the rug.
How to Choose the Right Rug for your Room and Taste
Consider the purpose and space of the room when measuring for the ideal sized rug.
- In a living room, family room or den measure the open space up to the couch and/or chairs. Your feet should be on the rug while seated. You should plan to leave eight inches of floor exposed around the baseboards.
- In a dining room pull the chairs out like you are sitting down to eat. Measure the width and length around the rear of the chair legs and table, adding eight inches to the total measurement. You can go larger than this if desired.
- In a bedroom, the rug should extend beyond the base of the bed by three feet all the way around.
- The most commonly purchased sized rugs are either 8 foot by 10 foot or 9 foot by 12 foot. Generally from a design impact perspective, bigger is better.
- In a large room with more than one seating area, it is ideal to have a separate rug for each grouping.
- If you find the perfect rug but want it in a different size, ask the manufacturer about making a custom order but be prepared to wait three to six months.
Consider your taste and the furniture in your room when deciding on a rug design.
- A rug with a small pattern is best suited to making a small room appear larger.
- If you choose a rug with a central design it should be centered with the center of the couch or under the dining room table.
- If necessary, choose a rug design that compliments your existing furniture and paint. Ideally, choose the rug first then furnish the room around the rug.
- Finding the right Oriental rug is like the perfect pair of shoes; it “makes” the room.
Your Oriental rug will likely be the focal point of color in your room. If you can, choose the colors of the rug first then match the furniture, curtains and paint to the rug. It is best to pick a rug with a timeless design and color palette so you will be able to re-decorate around it down the road.
Once you purchase your rug, be sure to have it cleaned or washed by a professional rug cleaner to preserve its value and beauty.