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Style & Living Home and Design

Think You Can't Afford a Vintage Handwoven Rug? Think Again

Buying a fancy carpet no longer means simultaneously going into debt.

By Courtney Thompson

Adulting means a lot of things. It means paying bills on time, taking your vitamins, and using yoga and wellness as an overarching purpose (and not an Instagram-bragging tool). And when it comes to home decor, it means you're buying rugs. Rugs anchor a room while dictating the color scheme and the vibe. Your furniture is the the big investment, but your rug — well, that’s the showstopper. And until you get older, you often pay little attention to what’s on the ground.

But like all things that come with adulting, rug shopping can be a major downer. Before we were married, my husband and I bought a condo in Manhattan and we couldn’t wait to decorate all 600 square feet of space. We headed to the city’s premiere carpet and home destination, and immediately went to the basement where thousands of vintage rugs were stacked as high as the soaring ceilings. As we started going through them, a couple of things struck us. One: The carpets were dirty and stinky and this “hunt” was a brutal process. Two: We caught a glimpse of a few of the price tags, and holy sh*t, we couldn’t afford these. I kid you not, we were looking at 4-by-6 and 5-by-7-foot rugs that were retailing for anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000+.

We’ve since moved on and had kids and now, more often than not, choose cheaper, highly-washable, machine-made rugs because kids are filthy animals and because we still can’t afford vintage handwoven options.

But that's actually not true anymore. All the authentic carpet tribulations I previously loathed are now moot thanks to Revival Rugs, a new direct-to-consumer website that sources vintage handwoven rugs from Turkey and ships them directly to you for a fraction of what big retailers are charging. 

How much are we talking? The rugs, which are all one-of-kind (seriously, once you buy it, it’s no longer on the website), start at $120 for a runner or accent rug and go up to $2,000 for a full-room piece that's likely in the 11-by-13-foot range. So what's the shipping going to cost you? Nada. All orders over 50 bucks are free if you’re in the continental U.S., and your rug arrives in a tidy briefcase-like box with a handle. That’s right, kids, no more hauling an enormous, tightly-rolled rug into your home. Quality, vintage rugs now come in a box, like mattresses, linens and couches before them, and well, it's about time.

To fully get Revival, you have to understand how it came be, and luckily for all of us, the story is relatable (and adorable). Founders Ben and Amber Hyman were trying to find a carpet for the bare wooden floors in their Oakland, California apartment when, similarly to my husband and I, they were struck by how un-fun the shopping process was. “Everywhere we looked for a rug — whether in person or online — there was a general lack of transparency, unreasonable prices, and poor-quality machine-made replicas,” Ben said. “We didn’t have the money to spend thousands on the handmade rugs we loved, but we also didn’t want to settle for something inferior.” While traveling in Turkey on their honeymoon, the couple reconnected with friends based in the country who were designers often working with Turkish rug artisans … and the rest, as they say, is history.

Really, though: After realizing there was a drought of affordable, vintage rugs in the U.S., the friends eschewed the idea of becoming wholesalers and decided to instead sell rugs sourced in Turkey directly to consumers in a way that's transparent, affordable, and fair to the workers involved. What helped: Ben was one of three founders involved at the early stages of direct-to-consumer linen brand Brooklinen’s startup, which meant he had the know-how to make the concept a reality.

Brand-building aside, what makes the Revival experience a knockout is its crisp, clean website. No more sifting through stacks of stinky, unwashed rugs (Sidenote: All the Revival rugs are professionally cleaned before they reach you) and no more rummaging through terrible websites with blurry images and inaccurate descriptions.

Instead, Revival’s rugs are shoppable by size, color, or style and the photography, which the Hymans commission, depicts each rug against a white backdrop, in a minimally-decorated room, and up close. Each rug’s page also includes measurements, which heads up, are a little bizarre — for example, 6’2 x 9’6. Not your standard 5x7, but hey, if that’s the hardship of this process, I’m fine with it.

Revival would be nothing, however, if it weren’t offering a high-quality product. So, I decided to test the goods!  My rug, named Simon, arrived in that cute-as-can-be briefcase box and not only looked exactly as it had in the photo, but measured exactly as it had in the description. The smell was a wee bit funky at first, but that disappeared after the windows were open for a few hours. Once I rolled Simon out, arranged my furniture around him, and dimmed my lighting just so, it hit me — this is the only way to shop for a vintage rug. Simon is gorgeous and authentic and CLEAN and vintage, and I can afford it and I can also feel good about it. This is the rug I’ve been chasing since I became an adult, but could never quite snag for one reason or another. And Revival made it happen.

Two more things to note: Parents, you’ll be relieved to know that my Revival rug proved highly washable. Of course just days after I rolled ol’ Simon out, we had a kid-puke incident that left me screaming, “Noooooo!” (in slow motion, falling to my knees… I’m joking … not really). Anyways, warm water plus dish soap got the stain and the stench out after a few minutes of washing. Who knew?! Also, the pile of these carpets is low at .2 inches, so be prepared to invest in a rug pad as well — Revival sells them starting at $55.99.

OK, my last thing to leave you with is the selection. Revival is constantly curating and updating its rug collection, which features everything from muted original vintage rugs that come to you just as they were found (after being cleaned, of course), to vintage rugs that were overdyed or distressed or antique washed by the Revival team, to kilims, which have zero pile and a major consumer following right now. Whichever rug you choose — and you might choose a few — know that you’re getting the best deal you possibly can thanks to Revival eliminating the wholesaler and needless costs, but that you’re also uplifting the importance of safer worker practices overseas. That’s right — this is a purchase you can feel good about. And who doesn’t want that?

Revival Rugs

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