Why Buy Vintage Rugs?
Rugs and carpets generally fit into three main age classifications: antique, semi-antique (vintage) and new. In understanding why to purchase vintage rugs, it is important to know what drives the antique rug market and new rug production.
Antique rugs are estimated to have a weaving date of 100 years or more. With antique rugs and textiles the late 19th and early 20th century is a pivotal time since this is the cusp of larger, world interest. In the eyes of a purist, the carpets made before this time are of great appeal since antique rugs are 1. Generally a bit more scarce 2. Made in a time with potential importance in regards to history or authenticity to purists. With scarcity and collector interest/demand come higher prices. Although the harmony and aesthetic of an antique rug with true age and patina may resonate well with many people, often cost may be prohibitive to the average buyer. If not cost, the importance of the rug may be too great for day-to-day use. With the latter, you may opt for placing the rug in a low traffic area, perhaps hanging or mounting it on a wall, or even consider storing for your private collection. Antique rugs and carpets of true age are not entirely common, and realized prices of excellent to exceptional carpets with unique character and excellent artistic merit continue to be well established every day.
New rug production has similar downsides to antique rugs relating to cost: Materials and labor making new rugs are quite high over years past. Replacement of new rug weaving at the consumer level is perhaps 35 – 50% more costly in the last decade alone.
Most importantly on in a trade-off consideration: If one were to qualitatively compare a very good condition 1940’s Persian Sarouk to a replica in new rug production, it is conceivable the authentic vintage Sarouk may only cost 50-70% the sale price of the new carpet that is made to look like the old.
While there may be some further considerations when purchasing a pre-owned rug, it certainly is appealing to consider a $4,000 9x12 authentic Persian Sarouk in very good condition over the cost of a $6,500 new 9x12 rug made to look like the $4,000 carpet.
It is also, however, worthwhile to note machine made rugs in similar comparison: For a well known manufacturers power loomed (machine made) carpet made of wool with similar density and aesthetic to a true American Sarouk, you may easily pay $3,000. Why not opt for the real, authentic, genuine original, hand knotted Persian rug for just a fraction more?
There is great validity and real cost-benefit of purchasing a vintage rug over an antique or new rug (or even a machine made rug for that matter). The manner in which hand knotted rugs are made today is little changed over the course of many centuries. However, the main difference now is vintage rugs are an extremely affordable option, and regardless, will continue to last for many, many years.
Finding the proper balance in utility and value: vintage rugs are a real contender in finding the optimal choice!
NY Stone Barns Farm Harvest Fest 2014
Me and Dave are very much into being a part of our local Westchester NY community and especially love visiting the farms of our county as it feels like such a privilege to have them so close just at our fingertips. One of our favorites to visit is Stone Barns Farm right around the corner of Pleasantville, New York and in the spirit of giving back, I decided that one thing I could donate to them was my time and photography. They invited me to capture their Harvest Fest on October 5th and it was such a pleasure. Even in college when I first started honing in on my photography interests, I knew that people would always be my primary focus. I love freezing in time the moments of human interaction that sweep past the periphery faster than you can blink the eye. Childhood, family, the Fall season, the joy of taking a day off from work, being with animals -- these were all my primary focus at Harvest Fest and it felt so good to truly connect with what I first loved about photography as well as to connect the dots to what I am enjoying now with Old New House. Everything we sell is handmade, from a long time ago or today by me + Dave, and my initial connection is with the idea of who made it and how they intended it to be enjoyed, with the second connection being who will have it in their home and how they will enjoy it. It is a beautiful process to me and Harvest Fest has gotten me especially excited to photograph our new line of tables and to share them with the world!!
Vintage Soft Tones + Faded Blanched Rugs
Tone on tone carpets strike a cord with us, especially those that are sunned and faded. A seemingly completely washed-out rug may appear absent of design from the light side from a distance.
However, a walk just a few steps closer to one end and the story may change. Go around from that end to one of the nearest corners, perhaps the hint of an intricately woven pattern may be slowly exposed.
Continue circling a corner to one full side, the design and tones may pop a bit more. Go all the way around another corner 180 degress from where you were, standing at the other end of the carpet, you see the full contrast and maximum depth of colors. Light is now being absorbed into the tips of the cut wool pile, and you are seeing full saturation.
If you are able to distinguish the subtle differences in faded earthen colors and pastel tones at the first corner rounded, you've probably already connected with the piece. To some, there is nothing to be seen. In a true tone-on-tone rug, these soft, subtle differences will be detected by keen color awareness within the first few seconds. If the subtleties can be perceived that quickly, you are identifying well with the rug!
It never ceases to amaze us how shimmering gold or predominantly ivory carpet has almost completely changed based on the unique character of hand knotted rugs. A soft lemon-beige may transition into a saffron-gold. A silver grey may transition into a dark charcoal black. A few delicate faded and blanched pastels such as a pale seafoam green or soft baby blue are clearly delineated as a livelier oxidized copper, or shade of near aqua. The carpet looks like it was kissed by the sun on either side, and it is gorgeous!
Decorative carpets evoke a feeling or emotion. We select all rugs in our shop because each has a place in our decorative dreams.
For us, a faded or blanched carpet brings us to a calming place. Rugs softened in tone have a relaxed way about them. Sometimes you just need a hint of something to get the full sense of it: Like water with a hint of lemon instead of a full-on lemonade. With a tone-on-tone carpet, you get the true sense of a color: How might a shade stretch when diluted in saturation? To what extent may pigment be drawn down before you lose the essence of the shade.
Identifying and embracing with the sensation of connecting to a shade or even adjacent shades (such as just one area of a rug) is part of the process of finding the right rug. The appreciation may just start with the love for how two colors seem to co-mingle as they buffer each other around an intricate design as outlines thin and thicken. Perhaps that identification is just in small hand-size area. It almost does not matter if the rug has a medallion or is an allover design, you may just find many areas where some field and outlines just have a harmony about them.
We look forward to introducing a few room size rugs in the upcoming weeks. These carpets draw upon the character of tone-on-tone with soft bursts of wooded browns and pastels in "sun kissed" fade.
David + Melissa
Persian Rug in Modern Context: ONH Sourcing Series 7
I chatted with an antique business owner recently and he said something that really struck me -- he said while he likes putting old rugs in his windows for display, he would never choose a traditional motif rug -- like a Sarouk or Kashan. He looked physically ill even talking about these types, for him it was tribal all the way. We each have our own tastes and preferences but I really and truly do believe that "traditional design" Persian rugs are very underrated. They can feel grandma-esque if you have the plastic covering over your couch to match but if you pair your traditional rug with modern or eclectic decor, it no longer looks so traditional or old lady but actually takes on a very cool and playful presence. A handmade rug is a work of art so it has to mix and match well with your style and other art but just as you would pick out pillows to have pops of color or interesting lines and shapes, your rug can be the perfect inspiration for a multifaceted kind of room. I read an article where they compared a classic oriental carpet to a classic Chanel suit -- they both truly never go out of style!
Here are my picks for awesome pairings of traditional rugs with hip and/or non super traditional decor.
Now off to decorating my own house!