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Antique Rugs 101: Things to Know Before You Buy

DLB's rug featured in Architectural DigestAn antique rug is one of the most important and fundamental decorative purchases you’ll make. A rug is the building block for the interior as a whole, so deciding on the right one is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Here are some basic and comprehensive tips on buying antique rugs – some things to consider before you search online or set foot in a store or gallery.

Materials and Architecture

The only thing that comes before a rug is the structure itself. The look and feel of walls, ceilings, and floors may influence the kind of rug you choose to buy. Rooms with a lot of exposed beams or hard surface elements, like brick or stone, can benefit from the softening effect of high pile or a weave that contains a lot of movement.

What Aesthetic are You Most Drawn to? … And Why?

Right now we receive a lot of interest in Mid-Century Swedish rugs, a category of antique/vintage textile that is in line with the overall Mid-Century Modern interior trend. These large area rugs are popular for good reason. They encapsulate the timelessness of the modernist ethos and simultaneously honor a generations-long tradition of craftsmanship. But that doesn’t necessarily mean this is the right kind of antique rug for you. What appeals to us visually is essentially instinctive, but spending a little time considering what it is about a piece that engenders that feeling can go a long way to making you feel secure in your purchase. Do a little research into the weave or the workshop or weaver – understanding his or her textile tradition will lend context to your decision.


It can be a challenge to make a rug that’s too small work in a big room – not impossible, but a challenge. Measure out your room and think about where you want to place the rug and about how big it should be to match your vision.

What Other Elements Will Complement Your Rug?

 If you have furniture or decorative objects, antique or modern, that you’ve already decided will go into the room, make a list of them so you can think about how they will pair with your textile. The beauty of antique rugs is they transcend design aesthetics – you can create a myriad of different interiors with an antique rug – but it’s still worth considering your must-have pieces before making a decision.