Paige Albright joins us today to talk about the art of buying and collecting rugs. Paige, proprietress of Paige Albright Orientals, has a degree in art history and interior design and is considered one of the area’s leading rug experts. She offers a well-stocked, curated collection of rugs and textiles in her shop, located on Petticoat Lane in Mountain Brook Village. Welcome, Paige!

Before we talk about collecting, let’s establish a basic knowledge of rugs. Traditionally, I would discuss knots and provenance with a map. After all, rugs are named and defined by the areas in which they are woven, not only by country — Iran, Turkey, India, etc. — but by region, as well. City rugs are very different from tribal rugs, too, due in part to the influence of trade and access to more sophisticated materials, like silks and unusual dyes. Tribal, or village, works are smaller … coarser, perhaps made from nomadic groups who are only able to weave with indigenous materials, like goat or camel hair.

Identifying rugs is based on their type of knot, weave, colors and motifs. Their purpose is often to convey history, whether cultural, personal or political, as they tell stories and commemorate special occasions. Remember, this is an ancient art that goes back hundreds of years. It is how the region expressed itself. While we could discuss the intricacies of all aspects of weaving, today, as I said, we are going to talk about collecting, an interest of those who often share a passion for textiles.

Rugs can be used in so many ways, even just draped over a table top.

Rugs can be used in so many ways, even just draped over a tabletop. Image credit: Beth Hontzas Photography

I have a client who has been collecting for years; her home is seriously gorgeous! She has the very first rug that she ever bought, and has been adding to her collection for almost 30 years. Her living room rug, a traditional mellow blue Persian Mahal, has been through many different houses with lots of different kinds of upholstery from chintz to velvet to linen, a testament to the versatility of a fine rug and how, when you buy what you love, it’s with you for life.

When you’re ready to start your collection, here are some key points to consider before you purchase:

1. Buy things that you love. You will never tire of things that speak to you.

2. Buy the best quality that you can afford.

3. Remember that pretty things enhance other pretty things. It’s not always so important to match. I love to mix things up. Don’t be afraid of color! And pattern! I’ve even started to layer smaller rugs on top of larger rugs lately. I can’t get enough!

4. Pick up fun items when traveling. I love to find pieces of art, accessories and books that are significant from a special trip or city. Items with a personal story can become a family legacy.

5. There are no hard and fast rules. You can use different sizes. Since rugs define your spaces, they should follow your architectural points and traffic patterns. However, you can layer smaller pieces on top of grass or any underlay and achieve a similar effect.

6. Consider any family pieces that hold sentimental value. You can mix these with your new finds and make them modern.

A runner helps bring warmth to the kitchen.

A runner helps bring warmth to the kitchen. Image courtesy of PAO

Still need more inspiration? You’re not alone. Clients are always asking me what to do with their grandmother’s rug. Why not use it with all white furniture to ground a space? If it is too “heavy” in color or pattern, simply turn it over to the reverse side. The colors will be more saturated. Often antique Persian pieces have a blue weft and appear softer on the backside. Use them in a guest room under a bed if you want a lighter look in your main area.

Here we see rugs transformed into pillows, headboards and a loveseat in this boys room.

Here we see rugs transformed into pillows, headboards and a loveseat in this boys’ room. Image credit: Beth Hontzas Photography

I have a chair covered in a rug, which is a great way to achieve pattern and repurpose your piece. Cover an ottoman and use as a coffee table instead of a room-size rug, or simply make pillows. This will save your piece and give you some texture. Throw a smaller piece over a table as a table skirt. How fun is that? I even have a framed fragment of an antique kelim hanging in my den. It belonged to Carl’s grandmother and was a gift for my 40th birthday.

Here a rug fragment has been framed making a beautiful statement. Don't be afraid to mix colors and patterns as we see here on the floor.

Here a rug fragment has been framed, making a beautiful statement. Don’t be afraid to mix colors and patterns as we see here on the floor. Image credit: Beth Hontzas Photography

People also always ask me what my favorite type of rug is, or what types of rugs I have in my home. Well, I love lots of different types of rugs. I have a traditional Heriz in my den, with camels, greens and blues. A pale pink Oushak in my living room, and, just for fun, a citrus overdyed patchwork in my master bedroom. The kelim in my guest room started out in my first dining room. I also have a zebra hide that has been around for a while. A few years ago, I sent my dining room rug out to be cleaned, and I dragged the zebra from my study to underneath my dining room table because I was having a dinner party. I loved it so much that it is still there today. My dining room rug is now in my den. I love to move things around in my house and change things up every now and then. You can too, and I promise you will be surprised at how well it works.

Not just for a floor covering, rugs can be transformed into pillows, bed spreads and so much more so be creative!

Not just for a floor covering, rugs can be transformed into pillows, bedspreads and so much more, so be creative! Image courtesy of PAO

Antique textiles add a layer of warmth and texture to a space that cannot be achieved any other way.

Also, I love to entertain. Doesn’t everyone enjoy a party? Often I will put a large rug in my driveway or in my backyard. It is so unexpected, fun and welcoming. Why not? Use your pieces. You don’t always have to be serious and formal.

An unexpected backyard entertaining idea.

An unexpected backyard entertaining idea | Image courtesy of PAO

So in closing, remember to buy what you love at the best quality that you can afford, and don’t be afraid to mix pattern and texture.

Inside Paige Albright Orientals you will find a treasure trove overflowing with rugs, textiles, art and more.

Inside Paige Albright Orientals you will find a treasure trove overflowing with rugs, textiles, art and more. Image credit: Beth Hontzas Photography

Thanks Paige! Paige is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to rugs and loves to “talk shop” with novices and experts alike, so feel free to stop by her gorgeous shop in Mountain Brook Village, Paige Albright Orientals. There you can browse through hundreds of beautiful rugs, pillows, furniture and more and delve a little deeper into the wonders of rugs!

Got Holiday Cheer? Well, we’d love to share it!

CHristmas house lights

Share with your friends!