Your Starter Guide To Buying A Persian Rug

Lovingly woven by hand, Persian rugs, and all handmade rugs for that matter, are a testament to the talent and creativity of the artisans who craft them. This art form has been passed from generation to generation. Just as every person who weaves these rugs is a different person, every Persian rug is completely unique. No two are the same. 

Understandably, because of the lack of uniformity and the huge variation of qualities, buying a Persian rug can be an overwhelming process. One that a lot of people don’t entertain. Hopefully I can lay out a few steps that can help you start your journey to finding a Persian rug you love. You have to enter the process looking to be captured and find your fit. It’s a bit like finding your perfume scent. You may have to try a few, but once you find your scent, it’s really you. You wouldn’t want a scent that smells like everyone else, just like you wouldn’t want a rug that everyone else has. With a Persian rug, the latter is guaranteed.


1. Know the difference between a machine made and handmade rug

Machine made rugs are made quickly on a ‘power loom’ aka a machine operated loom. They are made from mostly synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon. They unusually follow interior trends, so likely won’t last too long. Which is absolutely fine if you are moving into your first place or renting. Sometimes you need to buy a quick fix, to keep your space warm and homey. When you’re ready, and have saved up some pennies, you can divert your attention to something a little more long-lasting. The ‘investment piece’ – like a good piece of furniture, or a painting.  

Handmade rugs are pieces of art, and take a long time to make (have a read through the previous post to find out more on this). They are made with natural materials, mainly cotton and wool, and are dyed with all-natural vegetable dyes.

 Some quick tricks to tell the difference between the two: 

  • Have a look at the back of the rug: look for slight imperfections in the knotting on the back. If the knots are too perfectly aligned, it could be machine made.
  • Have a look at the fringes: if the rug has a fringe, have a closer look at it. If it’s machine made, it will be falsely attached in some way (sewn or glued) but if it’s handmade you’ll see that it’s an extension of the material that has made up the weave.
  • Ask an expert. If you’re ever unsure, just ask someone that has the experience. You can always contact us on this.

So now you’re set on handmade, and hopefully have a good understanding of what you’re paying the premium for.

lilla rugs how to buy a persian rug guide

2. Measure your space – with some flexibility

Handmade rugs do not come in exact uniform sizes in the way that machine made rugs do. Some size ranges are also more common than others (such as 300x200cm). Certain styles of rugs are made more often in certain sizes too. The best place to start it to measure the MAXIMUM width and length you can fit into your space, and also the MINIMUM length and width. I usually recommend keeping at least half a metre between any rug and wall. Especially if you have lovely wooden floors, let them shine too! It’s important to have the max and min so that you can be a little flexible on size, to give you more choice. 

Check out our rug fitting guide here for more. 


3. Think about your colour palette

 I use the word palette, as it’s important you don’t go into buying a Persian rug with a very strict colour in mind. If you want to find an exact shade of blue, with an exact shade of cream, you will be narrowing your choices a lot. Persian rugs have lots of different shades within them, so just think about your room and the overall complimentary colour palette. If you’re going into a warehouse or store, I always advice taking a picture of the room to show to the owner or sales representative. 

You can send us a picture for FREE online advice. 


4. Consider your budget

Think about what the maximum you’re willing to spend is and be open about that if you’re asking for help. Persian rugs vary from a few hundred, all the way up to double-figure thousands. If you filter your choices online by price, or tell the sales representative your budget, you’ll already be looking at a more condensed array of choices, which will help! 


5. Floral or geometric?

A good way to filter Persian rug designs is thinking about whether you prefer geometrical designs (usually more the tribal and nomadic pieces) or floral designs (usually the city pieces, such as Nain & Kashan). See two examples below.



6. Go & see it, or just try it!

If you’re really on the fence about a rug you’ve seen online, or even in a store, just try it! Of course, check if the place you’re buying from accepts easy returns. We always encourage taking the rug, or a few options, home. Lay it down and see it in daylight and evening light. Then you’ll really know if it’s right. If it is, you keep it. If it isn’t, simply drop or send it back. Then go through your steps again, and have another go! Don’t give up, it’s something you want to keep and treasure forever, so sometimes it needs a little perseverance. 

Persian Rugs will last a lifetime, so long as you ensure you look after it properly! Have a look at our clean and repair guide for further information.

Good luck & happy discoveries! 

Shout if you have any questions, or have a look at our FAQ's page. I'd love to hear from you x