Decorating with Oriental Rugs and Persian Carpets, Part 1

by Lisa Stewart 14 Sep 2012

Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Carpet Merchant, c.1887, oil on canvas, Minneapolis Institute of Arts

(See part 2 of this 2-part series)

I fell in love with this painting as a teenager. My curiosity was piqued by the beautiful carpets crumpled on the sidewalk waiting to be unfurled on the wall for auction. I imagined each one as a flower bud waiting to open in full bloom, a masterpiece of its own. 

Purchasing carpets is much easier today, nevertheless there are a few things you should know before you invest:

- Rugs are more affordable today than ever before. Beautiful selections are available at discount stores, retail outlets, and online.
- The words “rug” and “carpet” can be used interchangeably in most places, but dealers in estate and antique pieces most often use the word “carpet”.
- Carpets add an extra layer of beauty to any décor.  They’re also practical, by absorbing sound, protecting floors, and hiding flaws.
- The term “Oriental” refers to carpets coming from Asia. Iran, China, India, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Tibet and Nepal are some of the biggest exporters of Oriental carpets. The term “Persian” is reserved for those carpets made in Iran, formerly Persia. 
- Hand-knotted, one-of-a-kind carpets are like pieces of art and are priced accordingly. Skilled weavers create them by painstakingly tying each knot. Their patterns can be irregular. Size and quality may vary. 
- Machine-made rugs are usually less expensive because they are mass produced. They come in standard patterns that are usually available in several different sizes. Shedding can be a problem.
- Both hand-knotted and machine-made rugs are extremely durable. 

Are you ready to purchase a carpet?  Stay tuned for my next post (part 2) where I share some suggestions for decorating with carpets.

(See part 2 of this 2-part series)

Lisa Stewart is an Interior Designer in Raleigh, NC.