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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.