Buying an Antique Rug? Read This First

Photo: Woven
Everything you need to know about sourcing and buying an antique or vintage rug you’ll love.

Just like an old pair of Levi's or a plain white tee, a vintage or antique rug will always be in style. The tricky part is actually finding one you love that also works for your space. We chatted with the CEO and creative director of Woven, Sam Moradzadeh, for tips on all things rugs so you can find one you'll have forever.

Discover Your Style

Take the time to think about what patterns, materials and colors will work in your room and with your personal aesthetic. Whether you're looking for an eye-catching statement piece for your sitting room or a classic neutral option for your foyer, consider these factors before taking the plunge.

Think Motif

antique rugs

When it comes to styling your space, the overall motif of a rug is the most important factor, no matter if you're buying a rug based off what's already in the room or plan on designing around one. If you're looking for an ornate statement piece, consider Persian rugs—probably the most popular of all antique rugs. Vintage Scandinavian rugs have a bolder, folky vibe that feels more simple, but just as impactful. Moroccan rugs—which are having quite a moment—vary in color depending on which tribes weave them, but what we've seen in homes lately tend to be more muted and geometric.

Know Your Materials

antique rugs

Rugs differ in construction and look depending on where they're made. Before you buy, think about where you intend to put your rug and how you want it to feel. Most are made with either wool or silk, but other materials can be used. Sheep bred in colder countries of higher elevation (think Afghanistan) yield wool that's thicker and denser, producing more lushly woven rugs. On the other hand, some regions of Persia, like in Kashan, Iran, use soft and ultra-rare camel hair in their rugs. For high traffic areas, consider a durable yet soft wool Persian or Turkish rug or pileless Kilim. For something more decorative and luxurious-looking consider silk Chinese, Persian, or Samarkand rugs.

Start Sourcing

antique rugs

Know its age. Moradzadeh explains that antique rugs are more than 100 years old and vintage rugs are over 50, but less than 100.

Check the knots. To determine if a vintage rug is authentic, look closely at the knots of the rug. “A good indicator of quality is the tightness of the knot—rugs with a tighter weave generally last longer," Moradzadeh says. If you're still unsure, it's best to speak with a reputable rug dealer in your area.

Confirm its origins. Before 1960, you could generally place a rug based on the knots used to create it, but after that things changed. “Many countries looked to one another for inspiration and adopted designs and knots from other locations, so it has become much more difficult to specify the origin of a rug," he says. Consult your dealer for information on where your rug is from.


Consider fabric types.
If you have children or pets, or plan on putting your rug in a busy area of your home, opt for a wool rug. They're durable, soft and generally less expensive than other materials. If you're looking for a more decorative piece, think silk. “Silk makes for a very beautiful, luxurious look. However, silk rugs require professional cleaning, so it's not always the ideal choice for families with young children or pets," Moradzadeh says.

Cleaning is easier than you think. “Cleaning a vintage rug should be approached the same way as cleaning any other type of rug," Moradzadeh says. “The care depends on the pile height of the rug, but we generally recommend that you vacuum the front of the rug once a week, the back of the rug once a month and professionally clean it once a year depending on the traffic it receives," he says.

Wear and tear is totally OK. When you buy a vintage or antique rug, it's always going to come with a story, and with that rich history comes some wear. “The beauty of vintage rugs is that they've lived amongst so many different families and homes," Moradzadeh says. Clean it regularly and enjoy the story behind your rug for years to come.

Time to Style

“Most people jump to the conclusion that antique rugs can only be paired with other antiques for picture perfect results," Moradzadeh says. Woven introduced their Studio Woven series, a line of rugs to complement vintage or antique rugs just for this purpose. Consider layering your vintage piece with a neutral jute or sisal rug to save a few dollars (a 4x6 antique Persian becomes a 10x12 statement piece with an inexpensive jute underneath). Try out a smaller rug in your kitchen or hallway first and see if you like the feel before committing.

Want to learn more about Woven or see their gorgeous rugs in person? Visit their galleries in West Hollywood, CA and in the New York Design Center in NYC.