Category Archives: Rugs 101

Persian Rug Embargo Lifted

persian rug embargo

After months and years of unfounded rumors, the Persian rug embargo has been lifted.  The embargo has been in place fully since September 2010 as part of an effort to persuade Iran into dismantling their nuclear programs.  Tensions have been high between the US and Iran since the 1970’s, and embargoes have been commonplace.

Persian Rug Embargo Lifted

Iranian and U.S. officials announced on January 23rd that Iran had complied with the terms of last summer’s landmark deal to dismantle its nuclear program and that the sanctions that have crippled the nation’s economy would be lifted. The move will give the Iranian government access to more than $50 billion in frozen assets and oil revenue. It also allows some exceptions to trade embargoes against Iran. (The full trade embargo has not been lifted.)  Of particular interest to us is the ability to now import Persian rugs.

Estimates show that the United States accounted for more than 20% of all of Iran’s rug export prior to the re-enactment of the embargo in 2010.  The lifting of the Persian rug embargo will certainly help oriental rug dealers in the US and Iran, but will the market follow suit?

How will this affect prices?

I’m no oracle, but I think that prices of Persian goods will drop from current levels.  (More supply with slipping demand.)

Throughout the most recent embargo, many oriental rug dealers raised prices on all of the Persian goods, saying that the lack of supply could no longer meet demand.  While this may have been true of exceptional quality high-end pieces, it was not necessarily true of more common pieces.  Supply abounded in the US, even without trade lines remaining open.  The move to raise prices by oriental rug dealers proved a poor decision, and the market for true Persian rugs in the US faltered.

The supply of Iranian rugs is now beginning to trickle in again.  Will the demand for Persian rug return to pre-embargo levels?  Only time will tell.  Personally, this rug dealer doesn’t think so.  Quality and construction techniques from other countries such as India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have increased to meet or exceed most Iranian rugs that will be imported.  For collectors and consumers wanting an investment-quality piece, exceptionally fine Persian rugs and antiques will dominate the market.  But for consumers looking for antique reproductions at a more affordable price-point, other countries will likely lead the way.

Looking to the future.

On a personal note, I am very excited to see the re-introduction of Persian rug into the market.  The significance of these items not just in the world of textiles and floor covering, but in the art world in general, is impossible to measure.  Over 3000 years of design and art history are represented in each one.  Anytime you can bring something of that nature into your home, it is a great experience.

Stay tuned for more information on this subject.  We will be sure to update as events unfold.

It takes a village… Rug Weaving

weaving oriental rugs

Not all oriental rugs are made the same.  Even some rugs that are made in the same method, start in very different places and travel a differing path.  That’s part of the reason why many of our program rugs (available in different sizes) can actually cost more than our one-of-a-kind pieces.  Seem confusing?  We can explain.  Read on to learn why.

Basic Rug Pricing

In it’s simplest form, oriental rugs are priced by the square foot.  How much cost is involved in the materials and time needed to produce that square foot of rug is key.  One-of-a-kind handmade rugs take a long time to make, but the infrastructure needed to make such a piece is relatively small.  Programmed rugs require a much larger infrastructure to keep reproducing the same pattern and colors in multiple sizes, and therefore will generally cost more per square foot.

Unlike machine-made rugs, handmade and hand-knotted rugs stand apart , with over 80 steps in production before a rug is ever inspected and shipped to the United States.  From the purchase of raw wool to the final finishing and washing steps, massive amounts of skilled artisan effort is needed to ensure a consistent product.

Weaving Oriental Rugs – The Numbers

When they say it takes a village, in terms of weaving oriental rugs, the statement is literal.  As an example, Jaipur Rugs, one of our manufacturers based out of India presents the following numbers:  Initial sorting of the raw wool takes 50-60 workers.  Another 15-20 are employed to wash the raw wool.  60 skilled workers are needed to card and separate the wool.  For hand-spinning wool into yarn (about half of our inventory is made from hand-spun wool) approximately 12,000 skilled artisans are needed to create enough wool yarn to keep up with demand.  35 master dye-makers will procure and create dyes to be applied to the yarn.  A whopping 28,000 weavers will be employed under master weavers, and another 500 will be used to specialize in finishing.  40-50 workers specialize in transportation.  THAT’S A LOT OF PEOPLE needed to create the rug in your living room, huh?

Bamboo Silk Rugs

Loloi Kensington 100% Bamboo Silk Rugs

Loloi Kensington 100% Bamboo Silk Rugs

Food for pandas?  Or is bamboo something much more than that?  As it turns out, bamboo is an extremely versatile textile that has an amazing range of uses including the old world industry of oriental rugs.  There has been a massive surge in rug production with the use of bamboo silk as a pile material.   These rugs are soft, stylish, and durable at a fraction of the cost of a real silk rug.  Continue reading for more information about bamboo silk rugs.

Real silk is a wonderful product.  It is soft and smooth, extremely durable, and is a natural product.  Unfortunately, real silk is very expensive and difficult to care for.  Unless it is blended with another fiber such as wool, real silk rugs are reserved for extremely low traffic areas or for use as wall hangings.

Bamboo silk gives rugs the look and feel of real silk, but at a fraction of the cost and with added cleanability.  Bamboo is essentially a woody grass.  It is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth, with some breeds growing as fast as 1 meter per day!  Bamboo is an organic product, easily sustainable, requires very little water, limits soil erosion, and is extremely efficient in CO2 reduction and oxygen production.  With properties such as these, it is no surprise that oriental rug manufacturers have looked for ways of incorporating bamboo silk into their production materials.

Bamboo is steamed and crushed to release the cellulose fibers within the plant.   In this process the woody part of the bamboo is crushed mechanically before a natural enzyme retting and washing process is used to break down the walls and extract the bamboo fiber. This bast fibre is then spun into yarn.  In fine counts the yarn has a silky touch.  The same manufacturing process is used to produce linen fabric from flax or hemp. Bamboo fabric made from this process is sometimes called bamboo linen.

The biggest downside to bamboo silk rugs lies within stain resistance.  While somewhat resistant to stains, bamboo silk is not as resistant as our most popular material, wool.  We suggest that 100% silk or bamboo silk rugs be reserved for areas with lower traffic and little likelihood of staining.  Probably not the best choice of rug for underneath a kitchen table…

In terms of performance, our Bamboo Silk tests 3.7 out of 5.0 for Stain Resistance (after cleaning).  To put this score into perspective, the rating key has 1 being lowest performance and 5 being superior performance with a rating of 3 considered satisfactory.  As a comparison, high grade New Zealand wool tests 4.6 out of 5.0.

Regarding cleaning of our Bamboo Silk, it is best to use a professional.  However, there are times when a quick response is needed.  Gently blot the soiled area, using a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb liquids from spills.  Air dry; heat drying should be avoided.  Do not scrub.

You can see more 100% Bamboo Silk rugs by clicking here.

Timeless Rug Designs

timeless rug designs

I spend a lot of time focusing on design trends, interior styles, and emerging colors.  These areas of interior design change quickly and losing track of what customers want in their home can be devastating to small businesses like ours.  The oriental rug industry is very aware of changes in the consumer market and work quickly to react to the changing landscape.  But even in this “wild west” of styles, some designs and colors remain almost immune to these changing tastes.  What makes these timeless rug designs so special?  Let’s take a look.

timeless rug designsAs it turns out, most of these timeless rug designs have common traits.  And many of them have been around for hundreds of years, while some of their design motifs have been traced back over 3000 years! These designs have evolved over time and have essentially survived through changing styles over centuries. They rose to the top, best of the best, survival of the fittest and all that…

The first common trait among timeless rug design is color.  Most of these rugs are dominantly red and blue with highlights of golds, soft blues, and green.  This color palette is one of necessity, not necessarily of choice.  Chemical dyes didn’t really emerge until the 1890’s, so until then people had to use natural vegetable dyes that they could collect locally and manufacture themselves.  The ultimate goal of ancient times was to create vibrant color, and reds and blues were the easiest to create.  That’s why there is such an abundance of these colors in the market, there are simply hundreds of years with no way to make greys, purples, or varied greens.

timeless rug designs herizThe second common trait is pattern.  Typically there are two variations of “field patterns”, medallions and repetitive motifs.  Medallion rugs were often prized, as it took skill to create a uniform medallion well centered in the rug.  Both of these styles are usually bordered with one of 5 major border types, but most of these involve repetition of floral or geometric motifs that “meander” or rotate 180 degrees every other repetition.  While all of these patterns can be classified as geometric or floral, they are all basically stylized floral forms.

The third common trait is origin of the pattern.  With the exception of just a few Indian and Turkish designs, all of our most popular timeless rug designs originated in Persia (modern day Iran.)  While we can trace back many carpet patterns nearly 3000 years, the height of rug design occurred during the Safavid rule of the 16th and 17th centuries.  These Safavid rulers placed emphasis on art, design, and architecture and the rug industry flourished because of this patronage.  These timeless patterns spread across the globe and represent the majority of most basic patterns produced today.

If you would like to see some of these timeless rug designs, visit our Lexington, Kentucky showroom.  We would be very happy to show you some of our personal favorites.  You can also see a huge variety of rugs on our website at www.lexingtonorientalrugs.com .

Oriental Rug Cleaning

oriental rug cleaning

The great hallmarks of hand-knotted oriental rugs are their durability and ability to be cleaned and repaired. Professional oriental rug cleaning and repair will not only keep your rug looking great, but it will also ensure that your oriental rug investment will last for generations to come.

Our client in the Hamburg area of Lexington, Kentucky was in need of some restoration for their 9×12 Indian Oushak.  This soft woven rug was placed in a main traffic area, and was also at the mercy of two large dogs that used it as a launch point for running across the house. (The main floor was all tile.)  With just a few years of use, this rug began to show heavy wear, damaged fringe, and torn selvedges (the bound area on the edges of the rug.)

First, the rug was professionally cleaned, using a delicate technique that removed dirt and soil from the pile without stripping away the natural lanolin oils in the wool fiber.  This brightened the light background, enlivened the color, and made the wool soft and supple once again.  Oushak rugs are desired for their high-grade wools and soft piles, so proper cleaning was essential to restore the wool to its original texture and feel.

After the rug was cleaned, damaged fringe areas were trimmed and secured to ensure further wear would not continue to damage the foundation of the rug.  All four corners of the rug had experienced heavy enough wear that the selvedge had pulled away from the foundation of the rug in large sections.  These damaged areas were removed and replaced, restoring the selvedges to their original condition.

After the cleaning and repair phase was complete, a custom fit pad was used to hold the rug in place on the tile floor.  Because of the soft, flexible nature of an oushak weave and the slick tile floor, this rug was experiencing undue wear and tear.  The use of a correct pad fixed this problem.

If you have any questions about oriental rug cleaning and repair, contact your local oriental rug expert.  DO NOT have your rug steam cleaned or dry cleaned.  Oriental rug cleaning is a delicate and specialized task and should be done by trained professionals only.  You can learn more about our cleaning and repair services by clicking here.

Oriental Rug Water Damage

 

Mother Nature has been particularly unkind to the Southeast lately.  Our home in the heart of the Bluegrass in Kentucky has seen amazing temperature fluctuations, 3 feet of snow, and enough rain to cause flash flooding in the last 30 days.  With this crazy weather, our oriental rug cleaning service has been working overtime to help our clients who have experienced oriental rug water damage.  From flooded basements to burst pipes, here are a few tips for how to care for your investment experiencing oriental water damage.

Hopefully, your rug is only exposed to clean water.  This makes cleaning and decontamination much easier, and usually prevents color bleed.  Water from flooding is much more difficult to clean and often does not allow for restoration of original color and pile texture.

If the rug is still wet, it is going to be VERY heavy.  You need to remove the rug from the wet area as soon as possible.  You will likely need to use a shop vacuum to suction out water from the pile before attempting to move the rug.  Moving the rug while it is still soaking wet can not only damage the rug, but can also lead to personal injury.  Try to eliminate as much water as possible from the pile before moving.  Roll the rug, do not fold it to avoid permanent damage.

Next, your rug will need to be professionally cleaned, sooner rather than later.  Many people think that getting the rug dry should fix their problems, but that may actually be one of the root causes of their problems later down the road.  While the water from a burst pipe or flooded basement may look clean, by the time it reaches your rug, it is filled with contaminants.  Improper drying and storage of your rug will likely cause mold and mildew to set into the foundation of your rug.  Once this happens, the oriental rug water damage may be irreversible.

We know that you will have many problems to think about if this happens to you, but keeping your oriental rug investment safe involves acting as quickly as you can.  Contact your local, professional oriental rug cleaner as soon as possible.  If you do not have one in your area, contact your rug dealer.  They will have a cleaning service they can recommend for you.

Leave the rug damp (this may keep some stains from setting and becoming permanent.)  A soaking wet room size piece will be too heavy to move.  Some rug cleaning services have pickup services.  If not, you will need the rug to be as light as possible in order for you to transport it.  Use a shop vacuum to suction out as much water as possible.  If this is not available, a squeegee may also be substituted for decent results.

If possible, check your rug for any specifically damaged areas, such as rips, tears, or color bleed.  Be sure to let your rug cleaning professional know if you find any specific damages.

Assuming that your rug is cleaned quickly and does not have any major damage such as tears or color bleed, professional cleaning will likely restore your rug to it’s original condition.  Other damage success rate is dependent upon the type of damage, type of rug, and how quickly the rug was treated.  Hand-knotted wool rugs have our highest cleaning success rate.

For more information on oriental rug cleaning and oriental rug water damage, please contact us at 859-254-4412.  You can also get more information about our cleaning services at http://www.lexingtonorientalrugs.com/rug-care-cleaning/

 

Antique Reproduction Rugs

antique reproduction rugs

Antique Oriental Rugs have been a status symbol among the wealthy and elite for centuries.  Traditionally, antique oriental rugs have been reserved for the upper levels of society by high cost and limited supply.  In the United States, oriental rugs were not even readily available to the public until the early 1900’s.  With this status symbol out of reach of most consumers, manufacturers immediately responded by creating machine made rugs and handmade antique reproduction rugs for a fraction of the cost of the true antique.  Fast forward a century later, and handmade antique reproduction rugs have not only taken a large share of the handmade rug market, but have become the preference of most consumers.

Kalaty Allegro AL-636

Kalaty Allegro AL-636

Why is the antique oriental rug style so popular?  Beyond the status symbol, handmade rugs develop character and patina with use and age.  As the pile wears down and grows closer to the original knot and foundation, patterns get sharper.  And as natural dyes oxidize, they develop a softer color palette.  For years, manufacturers have worked to recreate the antique look in a new rug for a lower price, but most techniques involved chemically washing or manually distressing the pile which in turn damaged the rug.

As it turns out, the key to creating antique reproduction rugs that would pass the inspection of even the most discerning collector was not in creating new technologies, but in the return to old technologies and techniques.  Instead of spinning raw wool into yarn by machine (which creates a very uniform, perfect thread) manufacturers have returned to using hand-spinning wool, which creates a nubby texture and low pile.  Natural, vegetable dyes create soft, aged looks and striated colors from smaller batches of vat dyes (in contrast to chemical dyes which create uniform, high contrast colors.)

Kalaty Allegro AL-647

Kalaty Allegro AL-647

High quality antique reproduction rugs from manufacturers such as Kalaty, Pasargad, and Loloi take the process a step further with careful pile distressing and fringe dyeing techniques to add a worn, weathered look and texture to the pile.

If you would like to learn more about antique reproduction oriental rugs, visit our Lexington, Kentucky showroom.  We stock a huge selection of these rugs in various sizes, colors, and patterns.  You can also visit our website at www.lexingtonorientalrugs.com .

Oriental Rug Cleaning and Repair

The purchase of a quality oriental rug is an investment.  You give your hard-earned money for a product that you expect to look and feel good for a lifetime of use.  Normal wear and tear will take many years to damage your rug, but along the way accidents are bound to happen.  Professional oriental rug cleaning and repair will ensure that your investment survives unexpected damage and lives to be passed down for generations.

Oriental rug cleaning and repairWe are a retailer of oriental rugs in Lexington, Kentucky.  We also provide oriental rug cleaning and repair services for our customers to make it easy for them to maintain their investment.  It is important to make sure that your oriental rug is cleaned and repaired by professionals who specialize in area rugs.  Be sure to avoid places that steam clean, dry clean, or use harsh chemicals on your rug.

Take this Indian Heriz we recently cleaned and repaired for our local client recently.  She came in with a rug that was beginning to look slightly “dulled and dingy” and had area along the selvedge (the bound edges) that were torn and beginning to fray.  Without proper oriental rug cleaning and repair, the dirt and dust trapped in the pile of the rug would begin to erode the foundation of the rug causing accelerated wear and tear.  The torn selvedge would continue to grown and would eventually damage the foundation of the rug, requiring reweaving.

oriental rug cleaning and repairAfter an extensive cleaning, the color and softness of pile returned to the rug.  Our staff also repaired the selvedge and overcast the edge with double thickness for added strength in a heavily trafficked area.  This rug not only looked better, but was now softer and stronger than when it came in!

if you would like to learn more about our oriental rug cleaning and repair services, please contact us at 859-254-4412 or visit our website.

 

Round Dining Table Decor

Working in oriental rugs, we get a lot of questions regarding round rugs and round dining table decor.  Creating the perfect room with a round dining table isn’t always easy, but can be managed with the right planning and design.

First off, why do people decorate with a round dining table in the first place?    New home construction places a premium on larger living spaces and open concept design.  Fewer families are using dining rooms (mine only gets used on Holidays) and are congregating in family rooms and kitchens.  Because of this, dining room footprints have been getting smaller and smaller.  Round dining tables not only soften a room with a lack of hard edges, but maximize your seating space with minimal overall square footage.

Round tables also serve a purpose as a great way to get family and friends closer in a way that invites conversation.  A round table has no head or foot.  It has no beginning, and no end.  Every person seated at the table has equal access to both the item on the table and the conversation around it.  Think Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table and how it represented them all being equal, but in a way that substitutes your grandparents and kids…

Round dining tables can also comes with their own set of problems.  To maximize seating, many people purchase tables that are functionally too large for their space.  Sizes of round tables are somewhat limited.   Finding the perfect round oriental rug to anchor the room requires the correct size and style.  And other considerations such as whether the table can be centered in the room take on added importance.

Here are a few points to consider before selection your round dining table.

First, measure your room well and roughly lay out any other furniture that will be with the table. Sideboards, servers, and dining hutches can take up a considerable amount of space.  You want to be able to center the table in the room if possible to visually balance the setting.  Make sure that you are able to comfortably pull the chairs away from the table and sit down without coming off of any oriental rugs or hitting other furniture.

Second, while custom made tables can be made in any size, most manufacturers stick with a standard size of 36″, 48″, 54″ and 60″ diameter tops.  54″ inch tops are the most popular that we sell at our store.  Take these sizes into account with chair options before finalizing your purchase.

If possible, make sure that your round dining table is centered in the room or on any major focal points such as large windows, mirrors, or lighting fixtures.

Dining chair sizes vary greatly.  Most customers elect use either arm chairs or arm-less chairs solely instead of a combination of both.  If you decide to use arm chairs, measure to ensure that the top of the arms will comfortably fit underneath the table top.  Want to know how many chairs you can easily fit around the table?  Use this equation we got directly from the interior design pros:  (Diameter of your table x 3.14) / (width of a single chair)

Some tables allow for seating to be expanded with the use of leaves.  Round dining tables are no exception, although there are not as many.  Expansions may be made by adding leaves to the center of the table (creating an oval) or by adding leave to the circumference of the table.  In either case, make sure that you take in this added square footage when measuring out how much space the table will occupy in your room.

When selecting an oriental rug for your dining table, make sure you get a rug large enough for the table to remain functional.  A common mistake is to select a rug that is too small, even though it looks large visually.  Measure by pulling out your chairs as if you were going to sit in them.  Now measure the diameter of that area.  If the rug is too small, your chairs may come off of the rug when you sit down, and get caught of the rug when you push back in towards the table.  While this may be a small inconvenience if you do not use your table often, it can become a larger issue if you entertain regularly.  Common round oriental size are 6′, 8′ and 10′ in diameter.

You can see our entire selection of round oriental rugs here: http://bit.ly/1yO8zNh   You can also see a great selection of round dining tables on our furniture website at www.lexfurniture.com For more interior design tips, visit our store or give us a call to speak with one of our on-staff interior designers!

 

Decorating with Rugs

The right oriental rug may be the perfect solution for a room that lacks excitement or needs an anchor for a furniture setting.  Decorating with rugs, while not always easy, can be simplified if you go into the process knowing a few tips.  Here are a few ideas from our on-staff interior designers to help make decorating with rugs a little easier.  (If only choosing a rug was as easy as swiping a tablet like in our commercial!)

Use a rug to define or separate areas, such as seating or dining areas, and foyers. This can be useful in smaller confined spaces, or larger rooms that need definition.  Consider and oriental rug as an anchor to a furniture setting and not something to cover the entire floor.

If you use more than one rug in a room, try to use rugs that are not the same size. Same sized rugs can make a room look smaller and too much repetition can be boring visually.

When using more than one rug, it’s better when the rugs complement each other in style.  While you can find perfectly matching rugs, this can limit your ability to create a pleasant, inviting space.  Too many similar patterns or motifs in a room will do away with any sense of harmony.

Use a favorite rug as the basis of the color scheme in a room.  If you have the luxury of decorating from the floor up, this may make your selection of colors and fabrics much easier.  Your selection of oriental rugs will be much more limited, while the number of fabrics and paint colors are endless.

Use a rug to visually quieten a room or turn up the volume as needed. If your upholstery or wallpaper have an ornate pattern, choose a rug that is more subtle. When walls and upholstery are fairly subdued, you can try a busier pattern to add more interest to the room.

Use a rug as the focal point of your room, as rugs can make a huge impact. To do that you can create contrast by painting your walls a hue that echoes one of your rug’s accent colors.

Don’t assume that a rug has to be a rectangle. Let the way you group your furniture dictate the shape of your rug. Try figuring out what shape would look best, and then go with a square, round or oval shape if that seems like the better option than a rectangular one.

When you buy a room size rug, subtract 3 feet from the length and width of the room. Leaving the floor bare at the edges makes it look a little larger. Also, when laying a rug under your dining table, leave at least 24″ of rug from the edge of the table out on all sides. This enables the back legs of the chairs to stay on the rug, even when pulled out to let someone sit. Runners should be 4 inches narrower than your hallway and 18 to 24 inches shorter. Make sure they are wide enough to accommodate both feet on the rug when you walk.

Change out rugs and pillows to update a room for changing seasons, or as a way to introduce new color trends.

If you have questions about decorating with rugs, you can always contact our staff or visit our showroom.  You also see our entire inventory on our website at www.lexingtonorientalrugs.com  Thank you to all of our awesome customers!