It’s no wonder that designers frequently gravitate toward vintage rugs: Such pieces are full of warmth and character, can be sourced affordably, and are truly one of a kind. A bonus? You’d be hard-pressed to find an item that’s more versatile. Vintage rugs can be placed in the living room, bathroom, and anywhere in between, and they look stunning whether layered atop a larger jute piece or styled solo. Etsy in particular is chock-full of vintage rugs of all kinds with reasonable prices; the website boasts thousands of pieces ranging from faded Oushaks to brightly patterned kilims.
However, purchasing a rug online—particularly when it’s nonreturnable—can be a bit daunting. But that’s no reason to hold back. We spoke with six top designers who share tips that will make your Etsy rug hunt much simpler. Read on and get ready to add that gorgeous piece to your cart once and for all.
Catering to shoppers across the globe, Etsy rug sellers tend to be diligent about uploading as many images of a piece as possible, designer Michelle Gage says. “Most sellers have upwards of 10 photos showing any markings or signs of wear,” she explains. “The detailed images also give you a chance to get a better feel of the texture or pile height.” Still wavering? If the posted photos aren’t fully comprehensive, it’s always worth messaging the shop owner to ask for additional shots, notes Kira Obermeier of Kira David Design. “Most sellers are more than willing to snap additional photos of rugs you’re interested in,” Kira says. “I ask them to take a photo outdoors in natural light and from a variety of angles. I also request up-close shots to see the level of detail—or sometimes damage.” In general, vintage rugs, like most secondhand pieces, aren’t without signs of age. “Often, there are small imperfections that add to the character of the piece, but it’s always best to determine this beforehand,” says designer Emma Beryl.
Comparison is key
The extremely detail-oriented shopper may also wish to compare a rug’s hue to an existing or chosen wall color—and that’s a possibility too, Kira adds. “Some sellers have paint decks or swatches on hand, and it can be incredibly useful to have them photograph rugs next to a color reference,” she says. “I will often ask for a clean white, such as Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace, so I can see what undertones are present in the rug.”
Patience (and adaptability) is a virtue
Still, Kira says that this process isn’t entirely foolproof, so being flexible and patient is key. “Even with additional precautions, there’s always a chance that the rug will look different in person than it did online,” she explains. As a result, Kira generally waits to select a room’s remaining fabrics and finishes until the rug has been delivered. “If the piece comes in looking greener than you anticipated, try experimenting with different fabrics to see if you can come up with something you like,” she says. And if a rug arrives that truly isn’t the right match, it may still shine in another space. “Rugs are easy to move around,” designer Zoe Feldman says. “If one ends up looking a bit different in person, just try it in another room. Rugs are like art—they can adapt well to many different spaces and tones.” And if a piece features one light side and one dark? Simply try flipping it over to achieve a whole new look, Zoe advises.
Stick with what works
Once you identify a seller whose items you love, stick with them, designer Clara Jung says. “I have several vendors that I source from over and over again because often the descriptions and photos are extremely reliable. Often vendors have types of vintage rugs they specialize in, and it’s worth it to find a specific vendor if you have a certain vintage rug in mind.”
Learn to love imperfections
Lastly, being flexible with regard to measurements is also key. “The sizing on vintage rugs is often slightly off, as the edges aren’t as straight as new, machine-made rugs,” designer Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski explains. Yet it is this weathered quality that makes vintage rugs so unique. “When shopping vintage, it is really about finding beauty in the imperfections,” Zoe adds. “A true vintage rug tells a story.”
Ahead, find eight Etsy shops that the aforementioned designers often frequent.
Whether you prefer zigzagged kilims or pieces a bit more subdued in nature, it’s worth taking a browse through Turquality Rugs, where prices begin at just $28 for petite circular designs. None of the rugs currently for sale cost more than $1,800, with several sizable pieces priced for less than $200.
Turkish Rugs Garage
Turkish Rugs Garage is an excellent place to look for small throws to place in the kitchen or bathroom, but also offers a selection of classic runners and area rugs. Every hue, style, and shape under the sun seems to be present.
Turkish Rug Designer
Turkish Rug Designer offers over 500 large area rugs alone for sale, meaning that even if you’re an especially discerning shopper, we bet you’ll come across a special piece or two. If you’re drawn to geometric designs, you’ve won the jackpot.
House of Séance
Shopping for an investment piece? L.A.-based House of Séance offers luxury kilims, Oushaks, and more, with most rugs retailing for several thousands of dollars. If you’re a color lover, you’ll gravitate toward the many brightly hued options, which often feature vivid pinks, blues, and oranges.
Rugs Vintage Art
Rugs Vintage Art features variety–lots of it. Whether you’re looking for a shaggy throw to set beside the bed or prefer something with a lower pile, you can certainly source it here. The most sizable pieces begin at about $400.
Turkish Rug Sarikaya
Turkish Rug Sarikaya boasts the largest selection of any of the stores designers recommended. If you gravitate toward muted rugs in particular, you’ll want to scroll through the shop’s many listings rooted in soft pinks, blues, and beiges. You can easily score pieces in the five-by-nine-foot range for $180.
Silk Road Rugs
Silk Road Rugs is another shop that truly offers a bit of everything and is priced similarly to Turquality Rugs; pieces begin at $30, and nothing is much more than $1,800.
Vintage Carpet Shop
Though its selection is smaller than that of most of the other retailers highlighted here, Vintage Carpet Shop certainly doesn’t lack in terms of quality and price. If you’re a pastel fanatic, don’t miss the many options in soothing hues.