Marni Jameson: Here’s how our high-end Turkish rug saga ends

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Marni Jameson: Here’s how our high-end Turkish rug saga ends

Marni Jameson: Here’s how our high-end Turkish rug saga ends

When I first heard the voice message, I played it two more times to be sure I’d heard right. Hakan Zor, the rug merchant my husband and I met six months earlier in Turkey, was in Florida — with a large collection of rugs. He wondered whether he could stop by our house.

This seemed so improbable it had to be true.

While DC and I were on a cruise, our ship docked in Kusadasi, Turkey, where we visited a rug shop to learn about the ancient art of Turkish rug weaving. If you know nothing about that subject and want to make your savings last, stop reading right here.

Since I saw the painstaking process that goes into making a hand-knotted rug, and developed an eye for what makes a fine rug fine, my rug standards have been elevated considerably. Imagine that all your life you’d ridden in an old mail truck, and then you ride in a Bentley.

Still, before making that kind of investment, I wanted to see the rugs in my house, and take my time deciding. So Hakan promised that the next time he was in the States, he would call. I doubted that would ever happen.

A day after I got the voice message, Hakan and his assistant, Sam, pulled up.  I showed him around the house, and we settled in the great room. “I have the perfect rug,” he said, “but I will show you several.” They dragged in a succession of rolled-up 10 by 13 rugs, unfurled one at a time and watched our reactions. Finally they showed us one with rich colors, an intricate pattern and plenty of  life.

Unquestionably, it opened up the great room and elevated everything in it, just as Hakan knew it would. After detailing this rug’s qualities and telling us how much rugs like it had sold for, he finally got to the “but-for-you” price. We negotiated, and ultimately the for-you price came down significantly.

I’ve heard many designers say, if you can splurge on only one item in your home, make it a great rug. I’m beginning to think they are right.  Here’s what I learned about what makes a rug great:

It’s an original: Handmade by master weavers, no two rugs are exactly alike. “You aren’t going to walk in someone else’s house and see your rug,” said Beverly Hills designer Christopher Grubb.

They’re pieces of art: They’re made by hand, not machine — of all natural handspun fibers, such as wool or silk. (If you rub your hand over the rug’s surface you won’t come up with fuzz.) The dyes are all natural.

They have lots of knots: The count is hundreds per square inch. The higher that number, the more valuable the rug. Make sure to ask who tied them to confirm the labor was fair. In Turkey, the government subsidizes training for weavers to help keep the country’s ancient art alive. You may pay more for that.

They’re thin: “Many consumers believe the plusher the rug the better,” said Hakan, “but that concept is totally wrong.” Pile length relates to the tightness of knots. The tighter the knots, the shorter the pile; the bigger the knots, the higher the pile.

They pass the sniff test: If the rug you’re considering smells like petroleum, the maker probably used synthetic materials or dyes. All-natural rugs do not smell like chemicals.

They price is negotiable: Many Americans get nervous dealing with foreign rug merchants because the price tags are almost irrelevant. These merchants expect to negotiate. Buyers can typically expect to reduce the initial price by 30 to 40 percent. So bargain.

Join me next week to further explore just what constitutes value in home furnishings, anyway.

Contact Marni Jameson at

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Published at Wed, 03 May 2017 21:00:33 +0000