Why Vintage Rugs are Almost Always a Good Idea

updated Nov 14, 2022
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I love a good home center or big box find as much as the next person. And yet, there are some instances where I think vintage is the way to go. The only problem is that old often means rare, and that, my friends, we all know can translate into expensive. I’ve been toying with the idea of a new living room rug, and I’m not taking this potential purchase lightly. New carpets can be pricey, so dare I go with something vintage and add insult to that injury?

Well, if you ask a few Decorist designers, vintage rugs are worth it, especially if you’re looking for something that could be heirloom-worthy one day. And turns out there are some styles that might be better than others, at least in terms of longevity. Here’s why vintage rugs are pretty much always a good idea, in your living room and beyond—plus, what to look for if you can splurge on one and how to make sure it lasts for the long haul. 

Vintage Rugs Can Last Forever

When it comes to area rugs—and really lots of things, they just don’t make ‘em like they used to. It probably has something to do with the fact that so many vintage rugs are handmade using age-old techniques, versus machines (though you can certainly find new rugs still made by hand, too). “Vintage rugs only get better with time,” says Audrey Margarite, a Decorist elite designer. “They may fade slightly with use, but this creates the most beautiful patina.” Basically, getting older and timeworn only makes vintage rugs more unique, so you don’t have to worry about putting one in a high traffic area like the living room.

Embrace any quirks but also remember to rotate your rug every couple of years. This will ensure the carpet gets even foot traffic so it wears more uniformly. You also want to avoid over-exposure to intense sunlight and moisture when possible. 

They’re Super Versatile 

“I’ve always loved vintage rugs because they feel classic and can be mixed with many different design styles,” says Caitlin McBride, a Decorist classic designer. She suggests looking for something with a neutral base that has small pops of color in it. That’s precisely why geometric Heriz carpets, among other styles, are so great. They basically hand you a room color palette on a platter—all you have to do is take the accent colors woven throughout your rug and repeat them throughout the rest of your space in the form of art, accessories, pillows, throw blankets, and more. And yes, vintage rugs obviously work outside of living rooms—and can pack the same decorative punch in dining areas, bedrooms, home offices, and even kitchens.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Low Maintenance is Their Middle Name

Vintage rugs are very forgiving,” says Margarite. “They hide dirt and wear very well!” Even better, many vintage rugs are made of wool, which is super easy to clean, should you spill something—just steer clear of chemical cleaners. If you’re the clumsy type, Margarite recommends Turkish Oushaks in rich browns, mossy greens, and rust colors. Spotting stains on these guys is a real challenge.

Vintage Patterns Feel Fresh

When it comes to rugs, “antique” certainly doesn’t have to mean stodgy or dated. So many vintage rugs play well with today’s furniture silhouettes. And as Margarite points, there are plenty of styles with patterns and colorations that feel totally current. 

Need a little rug shopping inspiration? These vintage rugs caught our eyes and just might work your your home, too. 

Turkish Tulu

Margarite likes vintage Turkish Tulu rugs for their bold, graphic quality. The earth tones in this rug would be lovely in a living room, layered over a larger sisal or jute carpet.

Buy: Turkish Tulu, $999.00 for a 3’3′ x 5’6” from One Kings Lane 

Vintage Heriz

This Heriz from the 1960s would be the perfect thing to ground a tufted sofa in gray or navy. Pull your room’s accent color—sky blue, for example, out of the rug’s geometric border.

Buy:  Handmade vintage Persian Heriz Rug, 1C684,$1,690 for a 6.6′ x 9.8′ from Apartment Therapy Bazaar

Credit: Revival Rugs

Faded to Perfection

If you want something a little more subdued, find a vintage style with what’s called a crosshatched fade. Essentially, gentle wear over time produces a soft, distressed look that tones down the original color palette.

Buy: Adalgira, $718.00 for a 6’8″ x 10’0″ at Revival Rugs

Credit: Etsy

Turkish Oushak

Somebody please buy this pretty pastel number now. For the price, you’re getting a whole lot of rug! Sure, she’d look good in a living room, but I can also see this striking a slightly glam note in a home office or even a nursery.

Buy: Turkish Oushak Rug, $1,390.00 $417.00 for a 10.5’ x 7.6’ from Etsy

Credit: Rejuvenation

Turkish Konya

Fond of stripes? Then this golden guy is for you.  Mustard tan bands are punctuated by geometric strips of reds and burnt oranges in this traditional Konya flatweave, which has a lower profile than some of the other rugs featured here.

Buy: Turkish Konya Flatweave Rug, $800.00 for a 2’9″ x 5’5″ from Rejuvenation