Monday Inspiration: Why a Persian Rug is a must have item

It’s one of the questions I am most often asked: Where did I get my Persian Rugs? So I can only assume that many of you agree with me that such a rug is a vital ingredient in the making of any home. In the same way that a mid-century modern chair will fit into any room of any period from Tudor to modernist and, especially modern, so a Persian rug – preferably vintage so that it’s already faded – will enhance any space you choose to lay it in.

design by ben pentreath
design by ben pentreath chair by gp + j baker (magnolia) walls in farrow & ball setting plaster for more of the house visit House & Garden

They work with other patterns; see the room above designed by Ben Pentreath where the exuberance of that classic Magnolia fabric by GP + J Baker sits against the intricate patterns of the rug against the pale pink walls. And note also that while rugs on carpets doesn’t tend to work, you can absolutely put a rug on a sisal or seagrass floor if what’s underneath doesn’t bear stripping and sanding.

persian rug via
persian rug via WhiteShantyatHome (US-based)

But you don’t have to live in a country cottage to enlist the help of a Persian rug (although the Ben Bentreath room above is actually in Highgate, north London. Above and below are two American spaces. The first is more Spanish colonial with leather seating and exposed wooden joists and panelling while below is more modern space with washed out neutral colours. The giant rug also serves to define this seating area around the fire in a large room. If all that furniture was round the edges it would a) make it difficult to have a conversation without shouting and b) with that many chairs would look like a doctor’s waiting room. But with everything pulled together round a focal point it looks inviting and everyone can reach the coffee table with their drink – see last week’s post for anyone who missed it.

persian rug via amber interiors
persian rug via Amber Lewis of amber interiors

Moving from pale walls to dark and I showed you this room the other day and it’s still one of my favourites of recent months. The rug adds colour and character to this dark space. Persian rugs are also brilliant under tables as they really don’t show the dirt. I have had one under my kitchen table for years and it absorbs red wine, breadcrumbs and cream sauce with equaninmity. Everything sponges out and vacuums up and it’s none the worse for it. That’s the joy of the intricate patterns. I love a Beni Ourain rug and have one in my library but it’s always a bit  tense when it’s Monopoly night and there’s a mix of wine, beer and juice round the table.

dark walls and persian rug via @white_rabbit_living
dark walls and persian rug via @white_rabbit_living

A Persian rug will bring character to a new build, its intense colour and pattern will mix happily with the clean lines of mid-century modern furniture as well as a more traditional english country style. It can part of both maximalist and minimalist schemes and you can find one to go with all colours although the most common are burgundies to palest pink, cobalt blues and faded soft yellows. They will warm a grey room and bring out all the other colours you choose.

persian rug neutral space
persian rug neutral space via christopher howe

Even here, in this empty, yet to be furnished room, this giant vintage rug looks perfect wearing nothing but a rocking chair. But the other point to note is that if you can’t find (or afford) a rug this large, you can layer them up perfectly. They tend to be heavy so they don’t slip and sometimes they come with leather strips on the edges to help them grip the floor, and each other better. Because they are so flat woven you shouldn’t have a problem getting a door to open over a couple of rugs as they will probably be no higher than traditional carpet. The tonal patterns tend to mean that they will all go together although do check as I have one that is distinctly more rust in tone than the others – which are more shades of pink – and it lives alone in the loft currently.

Yes you can buy new ones but, for me, they are better 20 years on when the vibrant colours have faded a little. Try ebay – with caution – there are a lot of modern horrors on there. Or, on instagram Broomhill Rugs, Frances Loom (US-based but will ship) and, if you are near North London, mine came from Seneh Carpets, which has a website and a phone number but doesn’t sell online, although in the current climate you may be able to do a deal over the phone.

persian rug from ebay via man with a hammer
persian rug from ebay via man with a hammer 
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Thanks! Finally, I have a hard time pitching us to get a persian rug but now I can show of this post to help back up my claim they are amazing 🙂

  2. Hi Kate,
    It took me 4 years to find the perfect Persian rug for the livingroom of my 1970’s house but I love it. In the end found it on Gumtree just before lockdown but had a couple of bad experiences on ebay including one rug arriving covered in (I think) strawberry jam!
    I’ve always wondered are the rugs in your livingroom stitched together?
    Thanks for the blog posts,

  3. If it’s a smallish rug that you hope to place on carpet, (in front of the fire or by the bed), John Lewis will sell you some felt like stuff to put under the rug, (measure rug before shopping). The rug won’t slip.
    With eBay search under ANTIQUES for you rug. Better chance of getting a desirable rug.

  4. Thanks for a concise, informative, greatly written and yet somewhat entertaining post, as always, Kate.
    I have a question. Reading your blog and listening to The Great Indoor Podcast, I’ve picked up a few tips on rugs. What I am going and pondering about lately, is whether I can use two completely different rugs in an open space room. So, I have a dining room open space, a part of which I turned into a low sitting area, with those bean bags. I wonder, if I can use IKEA multicolored checker rug there, and then a Persian rug under the dining table (dark solid wood). Or should I rather be more conservative and pick one colour from the checker rug and use that for the dining table rug?
    Long question 😁 Hope you can share your view.
    Thanks 😊

    1. I would go for it. If the two rugs have any colour to link them. The two styles are so completely different that they might work together. That said, I haven’t seen the check rug and if the colours are very primary they might fight with the softer Persian colours. You can definitely mix the two styles but there should be some tonal link. If they are far apart and you can find another way of linking the spaces then do that – maybe candlesticks and candles from the ikea end to the dining end? Cushions from the persian end to the ikea end? You might have to play around but as long as you can find some sort of link to make it look like it was deliberate styling decision and not that you had two rugs that needed laying then you should pull it off.

      1. Oh! Thanks a lot, Kate! I think I know exactly what I want to do now. Your cushions tip gave me an idea. Thanks 😀

  5. Yes, I found that with eBay too, easy to go wrong on there, but I was lucky with my purchases. I have a wee collection now, almost one in every room and they’re all nicely faded! So glad Persian rugs have become a must-have item!

  6. Thanks a lot for a beautiful post. My favorite blog ever.
    Please, advise on how the persian rug will fit in a low ceiling space. Wouldn’t it be too much?

    1. No I don’t think so at all. I might keep the furniture fairly plain so as not to overwhelm the space with too much intense colour but it really depends on how you react to lots of pattern. Go for it. x

  7. I also love Persian Rugs, primarily tribal flatweaves. They always look their best with a good rug pad underneath. I purchased mine at auction and Etsy also has some great sources.

    1. For one thing it’s often then too high for doors to open over the top, for a second a rug tends not to grip to it so it “walks” across room and doesn’t always stay where you put it and finally – it’s two textures that are too similar – sisal, boards, tiles etc all are different textures. Those are the rational explanations – it can also be a gut thing. Sometimes a very neutral carpet can work but it isn’t ideal. Feel free to disagree however, none of these are rules (apart from painting radiators to match the walls) more thoughts and guidelines.

      1. Many thanks Kate. I have a rig on carpet as I’m not allowed floorboards in my flat but definitely agree about the radiators!

  8. No questions, just a Thank You for giving my lockdown week such inspiring and gracious stepping stones. Beautiful images and chatty but elegant commentary. Thanks so much.

  9. Love you blog and books but still have a couple of questions if you can help would be soooo appreciated.
    1. How do you learn to see the warm or cold in colours eg a blue tone in a yellow etc.
    2. How do you create flow with wall colours in an open plan home?
    3. How do you chose a colour pallette without a picture to link it all together?
    I have been struggling with these questions for year and years

  10. I do love a Persian rug, all of mine have come from local auctions where I have got them for a great price. I do love them on my wooden floors but do also think you can put them onto neutral low pile carpets and not just sisal or seagrass, I do and they look fab!

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