The Search for the Perfect Area Rug

Today I'm reflecting on the perfect area rug for our living room. I'm dreaming of an authentic Persian rug, with plenty of time-worn character. I've been inspired by, and drooled over, the layers of rugs in Jenna Lyons' bedroom (Domino, Nov. 2008)

I just love how cozy they look under her bare feet! I'm always drawn to just about any layered look - as far as I'm concerned, the more texture, the better!

My all-time favorite was probably Mara Brock Akil's living room (Domino, Aug. 2008). Perfectly faded and worn, and it must be at least 10 or 12 feet in both directions. (sadly i can't seem to locate a picture online...) But what I wouldn't give!

However, I'd be very happy with a modest 7'x10' like this one from

which still runs in the $1000 range, which is waaaaaaay out of my budget.

here's another beauty in the same price range

i could have fun with this one

just one more - a bit smaller and a bit less $, but still a bit pricey for me

I love that pink! And the medallion design is so striking and beautiful.

What a great website by the way - they include several photos of each rug, from different angles to get a good sense of the colors and design, folded so you can see depth/pile, etc. Sadly, the only rugs I've found in my price range are too small - so far!

I also spent a bit of time on, thinking maybe I could find an oriental design that somehow had enough of an aged look to it. I was tempted by this one ...

Mainly because of the great price ($189 for almost 8'x11'!!). But I realized that I would really be compromising and probably would be sorry in the long-term if I didn't hold out for something I absolutely love. I do like it though and will keep it in mind. For our place I like the red, but all three are nice.

I also toyed with the idea of a dhurrie rug, most recently inspired by Carolina Irving's mix of textiles featured on style court

I'm not sure the white furniture is for me, but the ottoman calls to me, and I love the way the dhurrie has plenty of character of its own yet acts as a neutral. I think it's mostly about the texture for me - the relaxed vibe of the cotton dhurrie just calls to me: "relax, come and put your feet up, pull up a floor pillow, stay awhile..."

There's an endless and fabulous collection of cotton dhurries at Dash & Albert. Their prices are excellent, and I'm pretty sure I will succumb one day.

On their own, a bit more nautical/traditional than I usually like, but I've seen enough examples of using them as a base and layering with other patterns in exotic, sometimes bohemian-inspired spaces.

I simply adore the designs at Indian Dhurries

So clean, crisp, fresh looking. But sadly a bit more than I want to spend. It's really hard to pry myself away from their website however ... perfection!

So, back to the reality of my current journey. After looking patiently at dozens of images (which I narrowed down from the hundreds I reviewed), my husband was more drawn to the orientals than the stripes or anything else. This combined with my need for a seriously casual texture/character vibe led me to focus on Persians.

So, during a long weekend in January, I spent hours and hours on all the websites I could find with somewhat reasonably-priced Persian rugs. I finally settled on one, ordered it... and received an email several days later saying that due a pricing error, they couldn't sell it to me for the price listed (and wanted several thousand for it).... argh. I started my search again and found another. However, when it arrived the colors were completely different than they had appeared in the photo. (This particular website included only one photo of each rug.) I also had compromised on the size (as a result of feeling discouraged and exhausted by my hours of searching), and definitely was not happy with how it worked in our living room:

So, back it goes!

Lessons learned include:
- I will likely need to buy my rug in person, to be sure of the colors.
- I will not compromise on the size - I definitely want it to be at least as wide as the couch (6'). I knew this going in, but like I said, I was feeling desperate, which leads me to...
- Don't make a purchase when judgment is compromised for whatever reason! (hours of looking at hundreds of pictures of rugs did it for me)

So, I wasn't sure where this left me, since one of my criteria was buying in person and I wasn't aware of any local, affordable resources.

(I've also been searching Craigslist all along but that hasn't turned up a winner yet!)

Then, a visit to the Alemany Flea Market a few weekends ago gave me renewed hope. A very friendly vendor had several beautiful rugs on display, very close to my price range. Success! I love, love, LOVE that I can see them in person - and touch them! - before deciding whether to make the purchase. He promised me that he's there every week, in the same location, so I'm planning to visit him again in a few weeks (just as soon as my schedule allows!). I'm still keeping my eye out on just in case a bargain pops up, but at least I'm not at the dead end I thought I was a few weeks ago!

This may seem like a lot of work for a rug, but to me it's an investment in a piece that will be a focal point of our living space, and I have no doubt the journey will be worthwhile. It's good research either way!

The fact that I already have quite a mix of textiles going on also makes it trickier than if I was starting from scratch. I'm willing to tweak my current collection of throw pillows, but the floor pillows have to stay.

I'd love to hear about any great sources for Persian rugs - especially in the Bay Area! Has anyone had good/bad experiences buying rugs online and having the colors match/not match?


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