How to choose a handmade carpet
We have over 1,500 unique handmade rugs at Isfahan Gallery, an unparalleled selection but it can be quite daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Before visiting our showroom it is useful to be prepared:
Measure the floor (or wall) space you are looking to cover, thinking about Minimum size and also a Maximum size for both the length and also the width; as every rug in store is unique it is important to allow tolerances in each direction. You may be limited to a very set size or might want to keep options open for anything from a rug for under a coffee table to a piece which will go underneath furniture. Bear in mind that generally the larger the rug the more expensive it will be.
We find laying newspaper on the floor is useful to workout the shape and sizes that will look right in the room.
You may want to consider your colour scheme and bring along samples of fabrics, wallpapers, paints and sketch of the room and furniture position.
If a rug on our website interests you, please note its reference number so we can display the rug to you in showroom or send you more images and description at request.
It is also possible to source a rug if you don’t find a match amongst our current stock. Bespoke and custom rugs are another approach to realize your very own design, colours and sizes.
What to Consider
While searching for a rug, you should consider the following: functional use, decorative appeal, condition, price & investment potential.
When choosing a rug you should take into consideration the level of traffic that it will have to cope with, its functional use. Rugs are designed to be used, even the best ones, but you might not want kids running all over the top of your silk rug or highly detailed Isfahan masterpiece. Fine rugs are best kept for the bedroom, the wall or a formal lounge area which does not see a lot of heavy traffic. Of course darker rugs are best at hiding stains but all quality wool rugs have a degree of natural stain resistance. Common sense would rule that an ivory-fielded rug is not a great idea of the dining room or entrance hall. Thickness is not necessarily an indication of how hard wearing a rug will be, most of the better quality Persian rugs are quite thin in pile-height, around 10mm. Often the better the quality wool and more knots per square inch the shorter the pile can be cut. Persian & Oriental rugs can last for decades with heavy traffic, the best indication of resilience is the quality (not density) of the knotting and the wool; your local Persian rug specialist should be able to point you to the rugs that you should avoid if there is likely to be heavy traffic.
Decorative aspects of the rug are equally, if not most important when buying your rug. While it helps if the rug fits in with your existing décor it is also worth noting that if the rug is of good quality it will be with you longer than most of your furniture so you should go for a rug that you like, not one that will get along with your existing surroundings. Size is of course important and should be able to fit in your room but it is best not to restrict yourself, rugs can go in the centre of the floor or under furniture, it is entirely up to you. Size is a factor in the price so a 8 metre square rug will cost twice as much as a 4 metre square identical rug. Of course some 4 metre square rugs can cost twice as much as an 8 metre square one but it is worth noting. Persian and Oriental rugs have been around for thousands of years, they aren’t about to go out of fashion. We’ve seen people use traditional rugs in ultra-modern spaces creating a stylish transitional effect; traditional rugs perfectly finish any Victorian or Georgian home and exert a peaceful, calming effect in most interiors while geometric and tribal rugs are versatile in that they lend themselves to both traditional and contemporary settings.
It’s important to go for a rug that you like over anything else. Occasionally a rug ‘speaks’ to someone, it’s something we’ve heard many times over the years and we’ve all experienced it with certain rugs. It doesn’t happen often and of course it’s normally a top quality rug that will do it but if it happens to you we recommend you take the plunge or risk regretting it for years to come. These are special pieces and can somehow trigger some emotion to the right person, if you see a rug and it speaks to you the chances are it has your name on it.
The rugs condition ties in with both its functional use and the investment value of the piece. While a rug of any age can be an investment the ones that are most likely to raise in value are the older pieces which are in good condition, older rugs are obviously rarer than new rugs so to find one in pristine condition makes it valuable to collectors of rugs or antiques worldwide. Condition also has an influence on the rugs functional use, a worn or fragile rug is best used in low-traffic areas to ensure a longer life. That is not to say if a rug is not in perfect condition it cannot be used but frayed fringes or selvages (sides) should be repaired before the damage can spread. At times rugs with low pile or damage can be picked up at a reduced price however with very old pieces this is almost expected and low-pile antique rugs still sell for many thousands of pounds. Tip: rugs in worn condition can often be found at cut prices, although you may not like the idea of a worn rug on your floor the same piece hung on a wall makes an attractive and bold artistic statement, in fact often older rugs with wear and tear look better on the wall than new rugs.
Price and budget may of course be an influencing factor but we would suggest when looking for a Persian or Oriental rug you treat it as if you were buying a piece of art. Keep in mind that large rugs can take a year or more to knot and their price is reflected in this – use our time to weave rug calculator to find out how long it would have taken to knot a specific rug. Also consider the fact that a quality rug will last for decades and in many cases hold or increase in value. Price is of course a factor in most peoples’ decision and for this reason we have strived to gather a range of qualities in all sizes. Note that in the rug world you get what you pay for, a lower quality rug may have good decorative qualities but is unlikely to hold its value. Basically it is up to you to decide are you looking for a nice hand-knotted rug, a special piece or one which you may look to sell in future?
Investment value is a misunderstood aspect when it comes to Persian & Oriental rugs. For most it should be of little relevance, you should look for a rug which you like and would want to keep and cherish forever; very few people actually sell their rugs. It should be clear that not all rugs hold or increase in value. There are many rugs which are similar in design and made in large quantities, these are not going to appreciate in value with time as there are so many around – take the 90 line Chinese rugs for example – these rugs were very popular in the 80s with their very simple designs but because there were so many of them around their value is quite low. Antique rugs (particularly those in good condition) tend to be high value because of this reason; there aren’t many of them about so their value increases. That being said even 100 years ago they made low quality rugs so a bad rug today isn’t going to be worth anything 100 years from now. Expensive, high quality pieces made today are likely to rise in price, this is because with the way the weaving countries are headed and increasing labour costs these are less likely to be woven in future and if they are the costs will be astronomical. You should also consider that if you do wish to sell a rug who will you sell it to? For average rugs a local ad in the paper or selling it online is wrought with difficulties, trying to find someone who wants your specific rug may be difficult and could take time. Selling at auction is risky as the market can be turbulent and keep in mind the auctioneers take a proportion of the sale value. A local rug dealer may offer to buy your rug but they’ll want to pay trade prices and will need to deduct further for any cleaning or repairs. The most likely scenario is that a rug dealer will allow you to part-exchange your rug if you are looking for a change or need a different size. High end rugs and antique pieces do however fair well in high-end auctions such as Sotherby’s or Christies, this is often the best alternative for top pieces as rug dealers are unlikely to have the funds or be willing to tie up capital buying a rug which they may not sell for several years.
With all this in mind you should seek a rug which is suitable for the area that it is intended for, obviously the colours and design should go well in its surroundings but it is recommended to choose a rug that you really like over one which will go well with your curtains. You will know how much you can spend on a rug but keep in mind these are works of art, the good ones will hold or increase in value, the not so good ones wont.
As a result of their popularity, the market is flooded with imitations often using unreliable descriptions, and for the general public it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish a real authentic hand-knotted rug from the fakes on offer. Also, some sellers describe a rug as Persian even if it is Indian or Chinese, there is nothing wrong with these rugs but they should not be described as Persian as Persian rugs tend to be higher quality and value. Others may describe a Tabbas rug as a Nain or an Ardekan as a Kashan (similar designs, often from the same area, but not as good quality). Buying over the internet is a risk but a using a trusted specialist should reduce these risks. The benefit of using a rug dealer is that you can view the rug in their store as well as online and if there is a problem with it you should be able to send it back.