I realized last week after posting an unpopular opinion that machine-printed “vintage” rugs don’t look that great, that there’s a big misconception about buying vintage rugs vs. buying new rugs. I was called a snob by more than one person for dissing machine-printed rugs, and that I “shouldn’t assume everyone can afford vintage rugs”
Maybe my delivery was off. But I assume the comments were made by those who haven’t been around for long enough to realize that my literal ~identity~ is scouring the depths of the internet for cheap (but quality) secondhand finds.
I promise that gorgeous, quality, cheap vintage rugs are out there. And by cheap I mean, not that much more than those disposable, machine-made rugs that will unfortunately end up in a landfill in a few years.
I found this gorgeous vintage runner on Chairish for $125 and it inspired our whole bathroom scheme
WHY YOU SHOULD BUY VINTAGE OR HAND-MADE RUGS INSTEAD OF PRINTED, MACHINE-MADE RUGS
If you want to argue that a new, machine-made rug is better for your phase of life and they’re budget-friendly, that’s totally fine, but I guarantee a vintage or hand-made rug is just as durable if not more durable than any modern machine-made rug. Vintage rugs have taken a lot of shit over the years, and there’s a reason why they’ve been around for centuries and hold their value.
A machine-made rug won’t last, so you’ll likely end up having to buy another rug in a few years. My two cents, since you’re reading this, is that you’d be better off buying vintage the first time.
Tip: If you find a vintage rug that’s smaller than the size you need for a room, you can always layer it with a sissal rug underneath. I’ve purchased sissal rugs for cheap from this eBay shop (use the best offer button to get a deal). This 9×12 is the same one I have in our living room that I got for $150 a few years ago, and I layered my hand-made Bovino Loom & Co rug on top.
If you prefer to buy new, I don’t recommend buying machine printed or machine-made, but instead buy a hand-made/hand knotted/handwoven rug if it’s in your budget. These rugs are durable and will last a long time.
WHERE TO BUY AFFORDABLE VINTAGE RUGS:
I see tons of vintage rugs (some are straight-up FREE) on FB MP and Craigslist. I plan to share all the keywords I use for searching rugs in my upcoming book, but here are just a few:
- Vintage area rug
- Floral antique rug
- Vintage Oushak
- Antique rug
- Old rug
- Persian rug
- Bokhara rug
- Heriz rug
- Lilihan rug
- Muted vintage rug
Don’t sleep on eBay. Seriously. There are THOUSANDS of vintage rugs to be found on this site. Read this post for more tips for how to shop on eBay!
Also contains thousands of budget-friendly vintage rugs. Check out this post for a list of my favorite Etsy rug shops
Other places to shop for rugs:
HOW TO CLEAN VINTAGE RUGS:
I recommend doing this outside, on either a driveway or any hard, flat surface.
- Step 1: Vacuum both sides
- Step 2: Spot clean. I like using Folex, it’s a water based cleaner. But first test your product on a small, inconspicuous area.
- Step 3: Add part clear liquid soap and part water in a bucket, mix it, and pour it on the rug. Then use a gentle scrubber to scrub in the direction of the pattern/weave
- Step 4: Spray it down with cold water and scrub it a little more
- Step 5: Use a squeegee to get the water out, making sure that you’re squeezing in one direction
- Step 6: leave it out to dry. Flip it over after a few hours
- Step 7: Once it’s dry, use a handheld upholstery cleaner to give it one last good suction. You can also just use a vacuum but upholstery cleaners work really well on rugs!
VINTAGE RUG ROUNDUP
I did some digging and found some beautiful vintage/handmade area rugs that cost the same as a machine-made rug, maybe slightly more. All of these rugs are 5×7, 6×9 or 8×10 and the prices are between $100 and $800. But the quality and durability will far outlast a machine made rug, and you can always re-sell if you outgrow them or find your ~unicorn~ rug!
I 100% agree with you — all my rugs are vintage and they stand up to so much wear, plus 2 dogs and 2 cats. It’s really the most sustainable type of rug, and I love the slight imperfections that make them unique.
Yes!! Nothing better than a nice patina 😌
I love the idea and look of vintage rugs. But dog/cat pee..how do you know if you’re buying a gross rug and then how do you clean pee messes sufficiently?
you can also get the rug professionally cleaned for peace of mind. however, most of the rugs that I linked are professionally cleaned before they ship to you. you can reach out to a company/seller to confirm if they cleaned it before shipping.
great article and wonderful tips!
Alexandra Lamm says
What kind of upholstery cleaner mqchine do you use? I want to buy one but the reviews are all over the place! Thanks!
Catherine Skepnek says
Hi! I have a questions about the 9×12 rug that you have in your living room. Would you say that it is more on the soft side, or more rough. I know Sisal is a bit rougher, but your looks smooth. Thinking of getting one for our nursery, but don’t want it to be scratchy. Thank you!
Laura from Birmingham says
Totally agree! We really enjoy the vintage, hand-knotted Persian rugs I find at our local auction. I pay about the same or less (sometimes way less) than a machine-made rug every single time since vintage rugs have fallen out of favor around here. Go figure. Auctions are a great place to look since you can put your hands on the rug and give it the once over before you bid. Since I pay very little, I always take a chance and put the new (to me) rug out in the driveway and clean it with Tide and the garden hose and let it dry in the sun. I push the dirty water out with a large squeegee. Works well for wool. I had a red dye run on one rug, but it still looked fine in the end since that rug was mainly red anyway. A dozen others were perfectly gorgeous and had no running. I do not wash silk rugs in this way, however. Silk does not hold dye well. Also, you have to wash the rug on a hot day so the water evaporates quickly or your rug could develop a sour smell. So worth the trouble! Persian rugs are artwork for the floor! Love your blog and all your ideas!
Wow! It looks like you’ve had great luck with finding amazing rugs. I always seen some gorgeous rugs at auction but have never bid on any! Thanks for sharing how you clean 🥰🥰
Jeff Carbine says
I appreciate that you explained I guarantee you that there are wonderful, high-quality, low-cost vintage carpets out there. My best friend is looking for some info, this should help him. I appreciate that you helped me learn more about antique area rugs.
So incredibly helpful! But how do you use these types of rugs in the bathroom? I would be so worried about them getting wet!