The Washington Post
September 2, 2015
By Jura Koncius September 2
The September cover of House Beautiful magazine. (House Beautiful magazine)
The tangerine and brick-red vintage tribal Persian rug on the September cover of House Beautiful heralds a major design direction.
Oriental rugs are back. And they’re not just in your granny’s living room.
“Orientals add a lot of warmth and sophistication to a room,” says Sophie Donelson, House Beautiful’s editor in chief, who with her team selected the cozy sitting area in a Vermont farmhouse as the establishing shot for the all-important fall season.
It’s the first Oriental rug on the magazine’s cover since June 2008, she says.
“Most Orientals aren’t staid at all. They are really wild, gorgeous and intricate patterns — no two the same. They’re a friendly, non-obtrusive ground for a room,” Donelson says. “They’re part of filling a home with soulful objects.”
The old-world Oriental rug, long the anchor of Georgetown libraries and Central Park West salons, is making a comeback on Pinterest boards and in the homes of design lovers and millennials, who are decorating with it in fresh ways.
While the design community scours auctions and old-line rug dealers for fine centuries-old carpets, younger shoppers on a budget are hauling rolled-up Heriz rugs out of their baby-boomer parents’ attics or snapping up Oushaks on Craigslist. They are discovering that small Orientals are great for layering over their bland sisals or using as a rich color accent in a hallway.
And lifestyle bloggers seem ready to sign on for some warmth.
“I would have laughed a few years ago if you had told me I would own a Persian rug,” says Sherry Petersik, 33. She and her husband, John, the Richmond-based Young House Love bloggers, have two young children and a dog. They recently bought two vintage Persians for a house they chronicle in their new book, “Lovable Livable Home”: a tomato-red one for the living room, and raspberry for their dining room.
The Petersik living room, shown in a photo excerpt from “Lovable Livable Home” by Sherry Petersik and John Petersik (Artisan Books). (Todd Wright)
“This is sort of a new thing for us. We have never had a secondhand or vintage rug,” Sherry says. She, and others of her generation, seem to be getting past buying disposable furnishings and are looking for something with personality that will hold up. “The rugs added a lot of color and pattern to our home. They also can withstand spilled juices and crushed Pop-Tarts.”
Washington designer Annie Elliott of Bossy Color says her clients are requesting Orientals or pulling them out of storage. “I like the more colorful and tribal ones. But if you inherited one of these 1980s dark red and blue, intricate, small-patterned ones with a medallion in the middle, you can still make them work. You pick out a strong color, like aqua, from it and paint the walls bold. It gives it a very young feeling.”
Mark Keshishian is the manager of Mark Keshishian and Sons in Chevy Chase, which has sold Orientals here since 1931. The rugs seem to fit many styles and many generations, he says. “These rugs could always go well with the Chippendale-Williamsburg look or with super-contemporary paintings and furniture,” he says.
Flea markets and estate sales are often sources for affordable, vintage Orientals that can add a little Boho to a room of mid-century modern. “A good rug is like art. It’s an investment. I buy my Orientals used, with frayed edges to give off that worn look,” says Eddie Ross, a design blogger and editor at Better Homes & Gardens. Ross, whose new book is “Modern Mix,” was just in Nashville, where he Instagrammed a pink and deep violet Oriental he unearthed. He thinks the rugs are part of a new decorating trend. “It’s not just about fabrics anymore,” Ross says. “These vintage rugs are becoming the starting point for a room.”
The rug on the House Beautiful cover — a Bakhtiari with a garden theme — was selected by Ramsay Gourd, a Manchester, Vt., architect and designer. “These rugs bring a sense of tradition,” Gourd says. “But they don’t have to be stodgy.”
The home and design coverage of Jura Koncius has taken her inside hundreds of homes, from tiny studios in Penn Quarter to country castles in Warrenton. Jura also hosts the Home Front live chat, Thursdays at 11 a.m. ET.