Calling All Fabric Fiends

Has something ever hunted you down and utterly possessed you in a wholly unhealthy way? In a way that pervades even your dreams and interferes with the ability to eat or watch project runway or maybe even shower? This is that thing. WHAT IS THIS PILLOW FABRIC?!

nick olsen bedroom

Everything about this bedroom by Nick Olsen is magical perfection to my eye... even the west elm rug. But I really need that pillow fabric. Need. It. I also saw that Suzanne Kasler used it on a chair to captivating effect, though I can't track down the image and frankly can barely even think to type this short post.


Unhealthy Tribal Rug Obsession

First of all, thank you for the kind comments about the site redesign! It's definitely a work in progress since I finished construction on the fly, so please let me know if you encounter any technical difficulties. And for those of you mourning the loss of a certain beribboned zebra, that guy may stage a comeback tour. You just never know what might happen around here. If you're following me on instagram you might recall my tears of regret over leaving this rug behind:

antique peking rug

It was a 4x6 handknotted Chinese rug of some sort... maybe antique Peking? I don't know as much about those types of rugs as others. Anyway it was of excellent quality and I am in dire (using that term loosely) need of a rug for the foyer that you can kinda sorta see here:

erin williamson design

Problem is Chinese rug had an east/west design and I have a north/south entry. Still, it was only $80 and I stood in the store hemming and hawing for half an hour before walking away with my lip on the floor. Stupid cheap rug.

But then I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and turned to ebay in a quixotic quest for an affordable antique caucasian rug. "Affordable" and "antique" do not belong in the same sentence.

antique tribal rug

For example, this rug blows my mind up. Sure, it's only a 4x7 and $700 -- which is more than I would spend on a 9x12 rug, but LOOK AT IT! Over 100 years old and in fabulous condition. I love that you can see where the weaver changed her mind and switched to a different color. So much work, beauty, and history wrapped up in such a functional package. I have considered selling body parts and/or children for this rug.

antique tribal rug

I am really drawn to crazy abrash in vintage and antique rugs. If you don't already know what abrash is, let annoying Professor Erin tell you: it's those bands and striations of color change that happen naturally over time where wool from different dye lots has been used. Tribal rugs are made on location with small vats and therefore small dye lots. So as they age some of these rugs tend to exhibit crazy abrash due to the differing amounts of dye used. You don't see near the amount of abrash on city rugs because they have vats big enough to dye wool for an entire rug.

antique tribal rug

Here is a tribal rug where the chosen colors are super consistent, but there is still a fair amount of abrash in the field area. I think it gives it a lot of depth. It's a super old rug and that particular blue is very hot on ebay. Hot = $$$ and my paltry bid got smacked down and stomped on.

Normally I wouldn't be looking at flashy rugs with so much contrast, but since it's for my foyer and will kind of stand alone like a piece of art for the floor, I figured I could afford to get nutty. Except I can't actually afford flashy or nutty.

antique tribal rug

Here's another rug I was massively outbid on. $500 for a 4x6 and that is CHEAP for one of the better antique rugs.  This rug was made in the 1920s, which I think is a sweet era in terms of age and design aesthetic. I pretty much always like a persian rug woven in the 20s.

antique tribal rug

A lot of 19th century rugs anywhere near a middle class budget have major wear, brittleness, and loss of edges. I'm not really into the ancient but trashed look -- I prefer medium old and structurally sound with some pile left. Look how delicious and velvety soft this is! I want to rub my face all over it. The seller has the rug folded to demonstrate "flop" which is a desirable quality in handwoven rugs.

antique tribal rug

And here's the rug I finally bought. It's by far the least exciting of the rugs I just showed you, but it's fairly old, clean and in good condition. I like the tight weave and colors, the seller was nice (that counts in my book), and best of all it was also only $130 shipped. Hopefully I won't fall asleep just looking at it on my floor.

If it doesn't work in the foyer, I'm thinking it can disguise the hideous tiles in my (still) hideous kitchen.

And then I can buy more rugs!

Because apparently that's what I do.

Rug Mystery Solved!

So, remember the crazy rug I bought in a parking lot? The one from the sale that showered dirt all over my babe and surely gave me a bacterial infection of some sort? This rug?

I couldn't decide whether to keep or sell. You guys were not impressed by its Versacesque glamours, but I saw something in there... My spidey senses were a' tingling. Lucky for me I have awesomely smart blog buddies. Cassie sent me a link to Lisa the Rug Chick, a textile expert who knows EVERYTHING about rugs. Read her blog... it's amazing. Anyway, Lisa was kind enough to email me with her take on Mystery Rug.

Drumroll, please...

1940s Spanish Savonnerie.

Exciting! I mean, it wasn't a $4 million 18th century French Savonnerie rug:

4 million rug

But it was something.

In the meantime, I had grown very attached to Mystery Rug. I had plans.

erin williamson

Master bedroom Versacefication plans.

However, Lisa the Rug Chick had some not so glamorous news: Mystery Rug was very dirty, and because it was woven on a jute foundation it would need to be painstakingly hand cleaned by a professional. No hosing this 100 pound beast down in a driveway unless I wanted it to disintegrate. Plus the jute edges had some unraveling and repair issues... plus Ben hated it.

I called Deep Eddy rug cleaners and they quoted me $425 to start -- which is not insane to clean a giant dirty antique rug -- but I didn't want to put more money into that particular rug.


I decided to try to sell it, so on a whim I emailed Nazmiyal Rugs in New York. They deal in all sorts of amazing antique rugs, rugs that cost more than my car.

Aaannnnd, I got an immediate call back. They wanted to buy it at the price I had set... If you watch Pawn Stars you know that dealers make you set the price because dummies like me have no idea what their stuff is worth. Therefore I had probably underpriced the rug.

I emailed another dealer, who told me the rug was possibly Austrian. Then I looked up Austrian savonnerie rugs and found this one on Ebay. Looks similar, right?

It's $12,000. Kinda more than I asked for. Ooops.

By this point I had already entered into an email contract with Nazmiyal. Hey kids, a written email agreement between a seller and buyer is legally binding.

Good to know, right?

And then I had to ship my rug off to NY on approval, which was nerve wracking. What if they stole my rug AND I was out shipping???

They didn't. They are professional dealers with a fancy brick and mortar location in New York. My little ole rug was chump change to them. Also they were very nice and reassuring.

Cherry popped. Check cashed. Tidy profit made.

Nazmiyal will make a tidier profit, but unlike many people I have no issues with selling to dealers. Yes, they will sell your item for more (a lot more) than you sold it to them, but they have massive overhead to finance PLUS they have invested time and money into building a clientele.

I mean, I could have put my rug on Ebay and asked $10,000, but who would buy it?

Probably nobody.

I hope.

So now I am a tiny bit richer and minus one rug.... guess what that means?

Rug shopping!!!

Probably for the living room (AGAIN), because I think this is going to happen:

I feel pretty good about this plan. I mean, I LOVE my blue rug, but I don't love it with the red persian rug in the living room.

Two rugs in the same room is just tricky town.

We will discuss this ad nauseum later... I have 700 pictures and opinions ready to share regarding this subject.

And someday I will finish my next how to post on buying rugs. Sorry I am so slow.

In the meantime, don't forget to enter the mega Graham and Brown wallpaper giveaway!

It ends Thursday night.

Do it.