Tuesday, January 19

.How to fill your bungalow with oriental carpets for little or no money

I love oriental rugs. One of the best parts about owning a bungalow with 3/4" hardwood floors is that you can use them to show off your collection of rugs.

I'm no expert, I haven't yet learned to tell the difference between a Kashan and a Kerman, but I know what I like when I see it.

I have figured out how to tell whether or not they are handwoven, and it's a fairly simple task to master. When I look at the back of the rug, and see tight little knots in uneven lines, it's a pretty reliable indicator that it isn't a machine made carpet.

Modern, cheap, machine made, synthetic fiber carpets are easy to spot, with their extremely straight lines and visible white warp threads.

There are better quality, "power loomed" wool rugs like the Karastan brand, which don't look so obvious. But even then, it's still pretty easy to tell. They are too uniform.

Another help in identification is that fairly often you can find the maker's tag still attached to the rug. The tag will tell whether it's hand woven or machine made, and it will also state what fiber the rug is made from.

Rugs with the tag are the most fun to find because then you can tell when, where, and how they were made.

I usually base my purchases of rugs on by ability to tell if they are handmade and my innate sense of frugality (Tory has another word for it...). If I can find a handmade rug for $8, I figure there's no way I could have overpaid, so I buy it and bring it home. I don't ever recall spending more than $100 for an oriental carpet except once, when I bought a machine woven round carpet specifically for the hall. I find rugs of all sizes in my travels, but never round or octagonal ones.

So how do I find $8 hand woven oriental carpets? Thrift stores. Lots of prowling in thrift stores. You'd be surprised what you can find, and what they will sell it for. Don't get me wrong, I've seen plenty of rugs in thrift stores at prices I'd never pay, but fairly often I can find them pretty cheap, too. You just have to keep looking.

Auctions aren't a bad source for rugs, either. And I've bought one or two carpets at Home Depot over the years, when I found a closeout at a steep discount, and had a specific room in mind for the rug.

Because we have a cat, I originally intended to store my hand woven rugs and only put down machine made examples. One of my favorite finds was a carpet that probably came from Target, left out in the alley for pickup. It was in almost new condition, except for the smell of urine from the previous owner's housepet. I thoroughly cleaned it, left it to dry in the sun for several days, and put it down in the sunroom to catch the dust and snow tracked into the house from coming and going through the back door. It fits the space well.

Tory prefers not to think too much about where that particular rug came from. However, since we have so many pets and children in the house, I occasionally have reason to remind her that urine is sterile. It's just water and salts, basically.

Though I never intended to put down my hand woven rugs until the cat grew up and the kids passed on (or somehing like that), today I observe that rule more often in the breach. I've ended up with a number of hand woven rugs in various rooms, and the cat never did turn out to be a problem.

But I digress, I was speaking of handmade rugs for $8. Last week I picked up a new carpet at the Brown Elephant. Here it is:

It's got plenty of wear to the face of the carpet, and at least one visible mend, but for the price I think it makes a very nice rug for my entrance hall, to replace the rug I got on sale at Home Depot two years ago. Here's another picture:

The size is perfect. It almost completely fills the space.

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