Antique and Vintage Turkish Rugs

LAST UPDATED: Apr 25, 2021 | PUBLISHED: Sep 30, 2020 | By:

Discover all the details about vintage Turkish rugs and learn how to find one for a STEAL! Learn the difference between Kilim rugs and others, how to layer your rug on carpet, how they’re created and cleaned, dyed and more!

A vintage rug can bring charm and warmth into your room, elevating your decor to a whole new level.

A white kitchen with a kilim style antique turkish rug on the floor.

Originally published 2015, updated with new photos and details April 8, 2021.

Ever since I purchased my first Turkish rug for the foyer bath, I have wondered how these incredible rugs age so beautifully. So much so, in fact, that every rug maker tries to duplicate the look of antique Turkish rugs with synthetics.  

Vintage rugs not only add color, texture and warmth to a room, but blending old and new can add a lot of interest, too.

All the Details

While I’ve discussed rugs and carpet with you before, I love bringing you design information and tips and tricks you can use all throughout your homes.

I’ve written a lot about rugs, including the best easy to clean indoor/outdoor Stair Runner on Basement Steps, the Best Kid and Pet Friendly Rug, Indoor Outdoor Rugs, and Sisal Rugs you can Clean! You can even get my best tips for purchasing a rug according to size, budget, materials and durability!

So, in the name of more research, I decided I should learn a little more about these gorgeous rugs and share with you!

First up, let’s learn more about them, including where you can buy them and why I love my secret source so much!

Looking into a white guest bathroom with a kilim turkish rug on the floor.

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Turkish Rugs

I love the traditional look and style of wool rugs, but they can be so expensive. Several years ago when we moved into this home, I started my searches for traditional rugs.

Initially, I started searching for clean, used rugs on Craigslist and estate sales {and even perused a bit on eBay}. I set alerts and occasionally, something intriguing would pop up (learn how here), but nothing that ever seemedthe right size and color scheme. 

It was eye opening, to put it mildly. So many wool rugs are in the thousands, especially if you want anything sizable. Why does everything I love have to be so expensive, I wondered.

Maybe you’ve been there before, too. It’s frustrating to fall in love with a piece of furniture or a certain item and realize that it seems so far beyond your reach.

I love Turkish rugs for their timelessness. They are almost always made of quality natural wool with intricate patterns in a wide array of colors. 

A white dining room with a farm table and a vintage kilim style Turkish rug.

Turkish rugs tend to be geometric or slightly floral patterns that can feel traditional or modern. Even more than a fully perfect and restored Turkish rug, I have realized that I love the thin, worn and faded look of distressing.

Because they have a less feminine, floral quality than many other Oriental rugs on the market, they work beautifully in our home! 

Where to Buy Vintage Turkish Rugs

When I couldn’t find any vintage rugs on Craiglist, I looked elsewhere. Consider any of these options during your hunt.

antique traditional rug that's perfectly worn

Why I love Etsy for Vintage Rugs

I have purchased almost all of my vintage Turkish rugs on Etsy and have always had a great experience.

  • My best decision was to turn to Etsy. I started small – I ordered a traditional rug for our powder room and it exceeded expectations! It arrived within a few days, clean and just as described. It was perfectly worn and nearly 100 years old, which was just what I was seeking.
  • I have found them to be most affordable there!
  • I usually receive my rug in just a few days even when they are shipping internationally, which is far more impressive than most new rugs!
  • When I was seeking a rug for the living room in December, most were on backorder until February or even as late as April, so Turkish rugs can also be a great last minute fix.
A white kitchen with a kilim style antique turkish rug on the floor.

How are Distressed Antique Rugs Created?

The faded, pastel effect of many of the vintage rugs in our home is actually created by updating old authentic rugs to give them a more distressed feel. The process used to make them look and feel more modern and updated adds another layer of interest. 

Rugs are collected, put into a spinner to remove dust and then carefully shaved. This is why the vintage Turkish rugs on the market so often look somewhat bare and feel a touch “rough”.

After being washed, these vintage rugs are sunned to mute the colors, turning them into pastels.

A white upstairs hallway in a home with a Kilim rug on the floor.

Sometimes after discoloration, they are dyed to bring out their original pattern or to highlight certain elements of the design. There are also find overdyed rugs using this method, but I tend to prefer muted colors.

Then, the fringe is cut, any required repairs are made and they’re available for sale. Don’t worry, vintage / antique rugs are professionally cleaned when purchasing from reputable sellers.

A white kitchen with a vintage turkish rug on the floor.

Common Q + A about Turkish Rugs

How can you tell if a Turkish rug is real?

Real Turkish rugs have a few clear markers.
*They are made of wool.
*No plastic backing.
*Fringe is not sewn on or glued.
*Turkish rugs are hand knotted.
*They will not bleed colors.

Can you wash Kilim rugs?

Yes. As with all wool rugs, never soak them. Use a 100% natural soap meant specifically for wool carpets. Lay flat in the sun to dry.

Why are Turkish rugs so expensive?

Labor! Individual laborers will spin each rug by hand, dye, and then weave the wool. While the upfront investment can be significant, these quality rugs can easily last a lifetime and beyond.

Looking into a half bath with a kilim style vintage turkish rug on the floor.

A white bedroom with a Kilim style rug on carpet.

What’s the Difference Between Traditional Turkish Rugs and Kilim Rugs?

There are many different kinds of Turkish rugs. Most are created with hand knotting techniques. However, Kilim rugs are in a class all their own, as you’ll read below.

Distressed and aged Turkish rugs are perfect for my home because I love that thin, faded style they bring with their cut pile, but I also love the look of a Kilim rug!

The definition of kilim is of Turkish origin and simply refers to a pileless textile. Kilims are a flatweave that are produced on a loom instead of hand knotting.

A white upstairs hallway in a home with a turkish rug on the floor.

Why You’ll Love a Turkish Kilim Rug

  • Kilim rugs are still handmade, but they are not knotted by hand.
  • Because they take slightly less time than hand knotted rugs, they can be less expensive. Something to keep in mind when you are searching for the perfect vintage kilim rug!
  • While Kilim rugs are true handwoven wool rugs in the same tradition as others, they have no pile because they are a flat weave. 
  • By contrast, traditional rugs do have a pile. Kilims are not as thick, luxurious and heavy as traditionally piled rugs. This means they can remain cooler underfoot in the summer months.
  • Kilim rugs often have the same range of deep vivid colors and geometric patterns. However, because of their lighter weight, they are often used for walls, upholstery, and even fashion accessories.
A white bedroom with a vintage turkish rug on carpet for a layered effect.

Why You’ll Love a Turkish Oushak Rug

Most of the vintage Turkish rugs we have purchased for our home have been labeled as distressed or vintage oushak rugs. This can be helpful terminology during your online shopping experience.

  • Oushak rugs are produced in a traditional method in a certain area of Turkey.
  • They lean towards the distinctive Persian rug style in pattern, weaving technique and craftsmanship.
  • Oushak rugs are generally created of wool, cotton or silk or a combination.
  • They are generally geometric or floral motifs which can work with a variety of home decor.
A white upstairs hallway in a home with a turkish rug on the floor.

While all of my rugs are traditional Turkish rugs with a thinned out pile, they have the same effect as a Kilim, just in a more faded color range. The choice is up to you!

Because both of these options are so thin and lightweight, this can make them a perfect option for layering over traditional carpet in your home! 

What are your thoughts? Would you buy a used rug? Which do you prefer, a more vibrant Kilim? Or a faded, distressed Turkish rug?

A white upstairs hallway in a home with a turkish rug on the floor.

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