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How to Pick the Best Vintage Rug for Your Space

Whether used to add warmth to hardwood floors, provide visual cohesion in a room, or liven up dull carpet—vintage rugs are always an inspired choice. While new rugs will always entice, vintage rugs are built to last, and choosing a secondhand rug can often provide you the best bang for your buck.

However, it can be tricky figuring out how to utilize vintage rugs in the home (especially if you’re new to them). To help, we’ve created a vintage rug guide, chock full of tips on how to choose the best vintage rug for your space.

How to Use a Vintage Rug

While the color, pattern, and design of a rug are all important features, the size is perhaps the most important feature of all.

As a general rule, rugs should allow 18 inches of exposed floor space surrounding the perimeter of the rug. Too-small rugs can make a room look small and uncoordinated. When in doubt, purchase a larger area rug for your space to ensure things go off without a hitch.

Between Two Sofas: If your goal is to place a vintage rug between two facing sofas, ensure that the rug is placed at an equal distance between the two. Symmetry is best. If the rug doesn’t fit between the two sofas equally, then the rug is not the correct sized rug for that particular space.

Under a Modular Sofa: Custom rugs will be your best bet for pairing with modular sofas. Standard rugs measure 230 cm by 160 cm, which is difficult to match with a modular sofa. Instead, take the time to measure the space of the rug to ensure you find a large enough rug for the space.

In a Small Living Space: Larger area rugs can provide the illusion that a room is larger than it really is—as long as the rug is positioned correctly. To use an area rug in a small space, place the used rug in front of a sofa with a thin strip of floor showing between the sofa and rug. This strategy makes a room feel more spacious and airy.

In an Open-Area Space: In a large, open space, a rug should be positioned under the front legs of the sofa. If there are two sofas (or chairs) facing one another, the rug should be positioned in the middle of the furniture pieces, with the rug under all front legs of the sofa and/or chairs.

Vintage Rugs Styles & Materials

Wool Rugs: Because of wool’s stain-resistance and durability, wool rugs are perfect for high-traffic areas in the home, including hallways, foyers, kitchens, and entryways. Due to the natural oils that are present in wool fibers, wool rugs are naturally stain-resistant. Additionally, material’s durable fibers allow the wool to bounce back after being stepped on. Various styles of wool rugs include: hand-knotted, hand-loomed, hand-tufted, and machine-loomed.

Natural Fiber Rugs: Natural fiber rugs are made of organic materials, plants and grasses like sisal and jute. Natural fiber rugs add a casual, neutral look to any room. However, they are only intended for indoor use and should not be used in damp areas, such as bathrooms. Natural fiber rugs are best when used in low-to-medium traffic areas like bedrooms, formal living rooms, guest rooms, dining rooms, or home office.

Hair-on-Hide Rugs: Hair-on-hide rugs are a contemporary style of rug, featuring a blend of stitched together cowhide, which has been glued to a cotton-latex backside and then stitched together on all four sides. Hair-on-hide rugs must be vacuumed and rotated regularly to ensure that it holds up over time. Additionally, hair-on-hide rugs are best for low-traffic areas.

Cotton Rugs: Cotton rugs are a creative and inexpensive way to change the look and feel of a living space. Many smaller cotton rugs can be placed in a washing machine, and can even be placed on top of carpet; however, a rug pad should also be used. But even though cotton rugs are easy to clean or switch out, they do attract dirt more easily.

Synthetic Rugs: Synthetic fiber rugs are comprised of durable man-made materials, mimicking the style and sophistication of wool and natural fiber rugs. Because synthetic fiber rugs are so durable and stain-resistant, they are perfect for high-traffic areas in the home or for everyday use. They hold up against wear and tear, dirt, and fading. Plus, they are easy to clean, making them a great addition to a mud room, kitchen, laundry room, or basement.

Silk Rugs: Although gorgeous and soft to the touch, silk rugs are made of very fine materials, making them ideal for low-traffic areas like the bedroom. As a bonus, silk rugs can act as a pleasant surprise for your feet when you first hop out of bed in the morning.