Carpets are like heirlooms handed down through generations | Here are few things to consider before you buy one
A “journey to the mystical world of carpets, kilims and rugs” to bring you a snapshot of the what, where and how of buying a carpet. IFM had a tete-a-tete with Mudita, niece of Mr Sheel Chandra, renowned connoisseur of carpets and Founder of Carpet Cellar that houses a range of antique carpets, modern designs, kilims and durries.
How should one decide on what kind of carpet/rug/dhurrie would complement ones style/décor | Carpets, unlike upholstery, are like heirlooms handed down through generations. A carpet remains a permanent fixture for a longer period of time. Hence, it should either speak to your heart or you can be pragmatic and choose colours and designs that will work for you and for your home for a long time. We all have personal preferences when it comes to carpets and there is no right or wrong. It’s important to know what you like. Do you prefer classic designs or more contemporary styles? Do you like light, neutral shades or more vibrant, colourful carpets/kilims? Geometric styles or curvilinear floral ones? Technically, raw material, dyes used and quality workmanship are other determinants when buying a good quality carpet.
What to consider when buying a carpet for a specific area of the home | When buying a carpet it is essential to look at the area that it is going to be placed in. Does that space have a lot of traffic in terms of people walking over it? Generally, we recommend that you use wool in high traffic areas as it is very durable and longer lasting in comparison to silk. It is also advisable to use darker colours in rooms that have a high foot fall as they will not reveal stains or dirt as easily. Another factor is the light. Does the room have more natural night or artificial light? Carpet colours can change depending on the light falling upon it so it’s imperative that you see the carpet in the day and at night, in the setting, before making your final decision.
Any thumb-rules when selecting the kind of carpet for the house | A carpet can add a lot of personality and character to your home. An elegantly placed Persian carpet gives a room the adequate amount of richness, opulence and feeling of grandeur that it warrants. A kilim or tribal carpet would work wonders in a study. In colder climates bright colours can create warmth whereas colours like blue and green work very well in places with hotter/ tropical weather. You can hang smaller carpets up on a wall in sizes ranging from 3×2, 4×2.5, 5×3 feet. These are generally antique Persian carpets or fine silk carpets from Kashmir or tribal kilims made by Nomads who carry their portable looms on their horses and camels. We generally recommend that you buy the carpet first and then work the remainder of the room around it as your carpet will be a permanent fixture whereas your curtains, cushions, upholstery will keep changing every few years.
What should one keep in mind when buying a carpet | Good carpets are affordable and long lasting. When buying carpets it is important to look at the raw material, dyes used, knot count, workmanship. Here are a few tips|
Machine made carpets are made on power looms whereas hand-made carpets are painstakingly created by hand and require more time to make. Hand-made carpets generally last longer as compared to machine made ones. I would recommend hand made carpets over machine made ones
It is generally better to buy carpets that have good quality raw material. The best wools come from Australia, then New Zealand, then South America. Indian wools are considered to be the 6th best in the world.
Opt for carpets made with natural or vegetable dyes. These are extracted out of plants, rocks, minerals and sometimes even insects. Natural dyes tend to last longer as compared to chemical dyes which fade with age.
The knot count of a carpet makes the lines straighter, the design more curvilinear. In silk carpets the knot count is a big determinant of price, as the knot count is much higher due to the thinness of the fibre as compared to wool.
Can you explain a little more about natural dyes and how they are sourced | To obtain different colours, a number of natural dyes from plants and sometimes even from insects are used and described below|
Blue– from indigo, a plant of the pea family
Red– from the root of the madder, kermes (chermes) and cochineal (dried lice).
Yellow– from saffron, reseda, vine leaf or pomegranate.
Green – from indigo + vine leaf, pomegranate skins or by mixing blue and yellow.
Brown– from walnut shell, oak bark.
Orange – from henna + root of the madder.
Beige– from walnut shell, pomegranate skin.
Black – from indigo + henna.
Saffron – Wild saffron makes a reddish-yellow dye, while, cultivated saffron makes a pure yellow. A lighter yellow comes from the roots of the turmeric plant, while the fungus of a mulberry bush provides a greenish-yellow dye.
Besides these colours one can get white, black and grey by using the natural colours of the wool.
How does one store and preserve carpets | The best way to preserve a carpet is to keep it dust free. Dust eats into the foundation and reduces its life. Carpets should also be aired regularly in mild sunlight for 3-4 hours a few times per year. We also recommend washing of a carpet by a professional versus dry cleaning, as harmful chemicals used in the latter process can damage the dyes and wools in a carpet. It is important to remember that most carpets that are packed and left unused attract moths which attack woollen items in humid conditions. One can use anti-moth agents in storage but they should never be in direct contact with the carpet. If storing carpets, they should not be packed in plastic but in a cotton or muslin cloth. Carpets should be rolled up and kept standing upright and checked on a few times a year for insect damage, water leakage etc.
How to know what you are buying and know if what you are paying is right | Buying a carpet in India can sometimes be tricky. If you do not have an in-depth understanding yourself, it is better to buy from someone who is a professional of repute.
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