Friday, September 9, 2011

Rug Sizing Tips

What size rug do I need?

Size does matter in selecting the right rug. Below are some suggestions -- not rules!!!


The foyer might be the most aesthetically important space in your house. It’s the entrance -- the first impression people see upon entering your home. A good quality oriental rug can make a statement.

Depending on the size, shape and furniture in your foyer, you can go a couple of different ways. It’s hard to generalize because foyers can come in so many different layouts. Some basic options are:
  • Putting a rectangular rug, either horizontally or vertically, in the largest, squarish section of the foyer.
  • Putting runners in longer, narrower sections.
  • Some combination of the above

But this is all highly subjective and dependant on the specifics of your foyer.

Here are some additional foyer tips:
  • If you have furniture against the wall, a rug lying in front of the furniture looks nice.
  • If you have a table in the center of the foyer a rug looks great under it
  • If you have a very long hall, break it up with runners and scatter rugs
  • Don’t feel obligated to use round or oblong rugs with round tables -- they look good with rectangular rugs.
  • Keep some floor showing between the rugs and the walls. For smaller foyers, allow at least 4-6 inches; for larger rooms, 1-2 feet.

If you’re really confused, send me a diagram! We’re happy to offer suggestions on how to lay out your rugs.

Dining Room

A dining room is the easiest room to fit a rug. The most important rule is that you want your rug to fit under the table and accommodate all the chairs when people are sitting down. And you want at least a 1 or 2 foot perimeter between the rug and the walls. That’s basically it!

Some other dining room tips:
  • If you have leaves for your table, but only use them occasionally, then base the size of the rug on the table without the leaves.
  • Furniture in the room can look good either on the rug or off of it. It’s a matter of preference.
  • An all-over pattern -- that is, a rug without a center medallion -- works best for dining rooms.

Living Room

The are many options for living room rug layout, so it’s harder to give specific suggestions. For many living rooms, a good option is to put one large rug roughly centered in the room. How much floor you want you show around it is a matter of taste. Furniture can either be on, partially on, or completely off of the rug. For very large rooms, you can break it up by using two or more rugs.

It really depends on furniture placement and taste. Again, if you’d like some options, send us a diagram and we can help you select the perfect size.


There are a couple of standard options for bedrooms:
  • If the room is large enough, a 9x12 or 10x14 rug can go under the bed horizontally. This fills up the room without needing rugs on either side of the bed.
  • For smaller bedrooms, an accent piece at the foot of the bed or a small scatter rug beside the bed can complete the room.

For any bedroom, softer palette rugs tend to work better.


If you have an eat-in kitchen, a good durable rug will not only look good but it will clean up over and over, and add warmth to the room. A small scatter rug or runner looks wonderful in front of the sink or along side of a kitchen island.


These tips are just suggestions. Rug layout is a highly subjective and personal choice. Experiment with different layout ideas, and have fun! It’s your home!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Silk Rugs: Authentic & Imitation

Silk rugs are some of most beautiful carpets in the world; fine, colorful, and highly prized. Unfortunately, there are also imitation silk rugs that can be misrepresented as the real thing. Let's look into the differences between real and imitation silk rugs.

Authentic Silk Rugs
Real silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the silkworm. Pound for pound, it is one of the strongest natural fibers, and it’s highly prized for its beautiful sheen.

In a high quality, handmade silk rug, the foundation of the rug (i.e. warp and weft) will also be made of silk. Since silk is so fine, this allows the rug to be woven very tightly, which results in a high knot count -- between 300 and 800 knots per square inch. High knot counts allow for fine, detailed designs that you simply can’t get in a coarser rug.

In addition, the rug will be woven with rich, colorful dyes. Combined with the natural appearance of silk, this gives the silk rug a distinctive vibrant look.

While silk rugs are very durable, they don’t clean up as well as wool rugs. For this reason, consider using them as a wall piece, or placing them in a lower traffic area of the house. They should only be dry cleaned.

Imitation Silk Rugs
Imitation rugs can be made from a few different materials. Mercerized cotton is a common substitute and can look and feel very much like silk. It is sometimes called art silk, India silk, or viscose. Whatever it’s called, though, it’s an imitation material -- an inexpensive cotton, treated to look and feel like real silk.

Real silk and mercerized cotton look very similar, and so it is easy to fool people into thinking that they are buying an authentic silk rug when in fact they are getting an inexpensive cotton rug. If it seems too good to be true...

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if a silk rug is authentic?
If you can compare a silk and cotton rug side-by-side, the differences will likely be obvious. The silk rug will be finer, will feel different, will roll up tighter, and will give an overall impression of higher quality.

But without a real silk rug to compare to, telling if a rug is authentic can be difficult unless you have some experience. If you see that the fringe has been sewn on after the rug was woven, that’s a good indication that the rug’s foundation isn’t silk. Also, if the rug has any general signs of being low quality, such as being crooked or having dye run, that’s another warning sign.

If imitation silk rugs are so hard to tell from the real ones, why should I care what I get?
You want to ensure that you’re getting what you pay for. Due to the quality differences and the cost to make them, silk rugs are worth much more than cotton rugs. If a cotton rug is decorative and priced fairly, there’s nothing wrong with it. But if it’s being represented as a silk rug at a bargain price, then you are getting scammed.

Are silk rugs “better” than wool rugs?
A silk rug is not better than a wool rug. It is different. Personal preference comes into play as with all handmade rugs. You might prefer the fine designs and glossy sheen of silk rugs, or you might prefer look and feel of traditional wool rugs.

Why are cotton foundations bad?
Cotton foundations are not bad. In fact, most handmade rugs use a cotton foundation. But a high-quality authentic silk rug will only use a silk foundation, since it will allow a finer design that accentuates the best qualities of silk.

I bought a silk rug overseas or at a liquidation sale. How can I tell if it’s real?
Unfortunately, this is the most likely scenario for buying an imitation rug that’s being advertised as the real thing. If you bought it for a price significantly lower than a real silk rug normally goes for, there’s a very good chance that the rug is imitation. You can always bring the rug into a reputable oriental rug dealer to find out.

Are imitation rugs good for anything?
Sure! A cotton rug can be quite decorative. If it’s being sold as a cotton rug, and priced correctly, there’s nothing wrong with it.

How do I avoid overpaying for an imitation silk rug?
Know what you’re buying. Buying from a reputable local dealer is one safe way to avoid buying a fake silk rug.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Similar Rugs With Vastly Different Prices

Some buyers are confused by the fact that two rugs, similar in design, country of origin, and size, have vastly different prices. To understand why this is, you need to understand all of the factors that go into the price of the rug.

Handmade oriental rugs are a little more complicated to evaluate than most household products. Even rugs that look very similar may be quite different in quality and value. This is true for one-of-a-kind antique rugs as well as contract lines, where a particular design can be made-to-order and purchased in any size. Let's consider some of these factors:
  • Wool. There is a high variance in the quality of wools used to make rugs. Better rugs use 'live wool', which is sheared from living sheep. Such wool retains the natural oils, and will retain its beauty for a long time. Lower quality rugs may use 'dead wool', which is collected from slaughtered animals using harsh chemicals. Not only does dead wool look and feel worse than good quality wool, it will not hold up over time nearly as well.
  • Dyes. Dyes also come in a variety of qualities. At the top, you have vegetable dyes that have been created by master dyers, which not only look beautiful, but will also stand up to repeated washings. Cheaper chemical dyes (aniline dyes) will typically look more artificial or garish, and may run when washed.
  • Knot Quality. Better rugs often have higher knot counts, which simply means that are more knots for the same size rug. It takes more time and skill to make a high knot count rug, but the advantage is that the rug may have a more detailed look, and it should be more durable.
  • Condition. There are many aspects to the condition of a rug that a buyer might not be aware of. Some lower quality rugs may be excessively crooked, sheared unevenly, unable to lay flat, or even be infested by moth!
Now that we've covered the basics, let's consider a hypothetical buyer who's looking at two rugs:
  • Rug A. $1200 9 x 12 Agra made in India. (This rug seems like a great deal!) It's reasonably attractive in the lighting the buyer can see it (online photograph, auction floor, merchant space). What the buyer doesn't know is that it was made with dead wool, chemical dyes, has poor knot quality, and has some subtle damage he can't see. This rug will not last very long, probably won't look so good in different lighting conditions, has an overall cheap feel, and will depreciate in value very quickly.
  • Rug B. $7200 9 x 12 Agra made in India. At first glance this rug seems like a worse value than Rug A. But it's made of very high quality 100% merino wool, with expertly mixed vegetable dyes. The knot count is approximately 300 knots, which gives it fine detail, a smooth feel, and exceptional durability. The rug will exude quality, and will look stunning in a variety of lighting conditions. It will last for decades, look beautiful after many washes, and may appreciate in price over the years.
Which rug is the better value? Well, it depends on what the buyer is looking for. An informed buyer can understand the real trade-offs between the two, and make the purchase best for them. Note that these rugs represent different ends of the spectrum. In reality, there are a wide variety of qualities and prices between the two for a buyer to choose from. Reputable oriental rug dealers can tell you why a rug is priced the way it is, and can help you make the right choices for your priorities and budget.

Keep in mind that you usually get what you pay for, and if someone is trying to sell you a $1200 rug that they say is 'just like' the $7200 rug a reputable dealer is selling, you should consider that there might be more (or less) to it than meets the eye.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Where to Buy Oriental Rugs

Today you can purchase an oriental rug just about anywhere. You'll find them on sale online, at auctions, going out at business (GOB) sales, or even weekend motel sales, with all them advertising the opportunity to buy amazing rugs at great prices. So, is it true? Well, it's possible to find a great deal, but it's a longshot. And if you're not familiar with rug types and styles, your chances of finding a good deal are even lower.

Consider this: Would you buy an expensive piece of art from a GOB sale if you weren't familiar with the artist? Or would you buy an antique car if you're not a mechanic? Probably not, and if you did so, you'd have to realize that you're taking a gamble. The artwork could be a print, or the car could have series mechanical problems, and you wouldn't be able to tell. Rugs are no different. Obviously it's important to find a rug with a design you like, and you're more qualified than anyone to decide on that. But many things can be wrong with an auction rug. It could have moth infestation. There could be dye run. It could have quality issues such as being excessively crooked or having mismatched dyes. The rug may be represented as being much older than it really is. All of these things mean the same thing -- the rug isn't worth nearly as much as is being portrayed. So you may end up finding something you like, but you could have bought the same rug for much less at a reputable store. Or, you could have bought a rug that's much higher quality for the same price -- meaning that the rug will last much longer, and ultimately have much more value if you ever decide to sell it later.

One last consideration. Normally, GOB or auction sales are final. So if you decide later that you don't like the rug, or if you notice that the quality is bad, or it just plain doesn't work in your house, you're now stuck with a rug that you don't like and is worth much less than you paid for it. Ouch.

Compare that to buying at a reputable rug dealer. You'll be guaranteed to be get rugs that are fairly represented and fairly priced. The best option is to shop a store that allows you to take home the rug before buying. Now, you're sure to get both value and enjoyment from your new rug.

So if you're tempted to buy where the prices are "too good to be true", consider it carefully. Chances are, it is too good to be true.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Let's Get Started!

Hi all.

Are you interested in oriental rugs? Perhaps you're a long time collector, or perhaps you don't own any, but would like to learn more. Either way, you've come to the right spot.

I'm Richard J Shehady, owner of Shehady's Carpets & Rugs in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, PA. This is the first of what will be a series of blogs discussing all aspects of rugs. We'll talk about the different styles of rugs, how they're made, how to effectively care for them, buying guides, and much more.

In the meantime, if there are any questions you have about these wonderful rugs, or if you have suggestions for a future blog topic, by all means please leave a comment.