The Blog– Page 2 – Bradford's Rug Gallery

The Blog

The Impacts of Light

Good design hinges on a few core principles: color, texture, proportion and light. Each principle has a balance and flow, and an influence on every other principle. This means that to isolate and focus on only one of these aspects of design, while decorating a space, will result in a less than satisfactory outcome. Considering each in relation to the other within the context of a specific space will help you create a balanced, attractive, and personalized space. What impact will lighting have on how you choose your area rug? Let's explore.

Natural and artificial lighting creates varying effects on the same object or room.

We say it more times than we can count, rugs will look different in your house than they do here in our gallery.

"Our perceptions of color are totally dependent on light. Without light, color would not exist, because what our brains translate as color is the reflected hue from light falling on an object. When we split uncolored or 'white' light by shining it through a glass prism, we realize this colorless light actually contains all of the colors of the spectrum. Even in its undivided form, what we take to be white light is rarely pure. Rather, it will have a slightly red/yellow bias, which gives it a warm tone, or blue/green bias that will characterize the light as being cool. Because true color quality is only revealed by pure white light, this cool or warm light will affect the clarity of colors in a room scheme."

- Homes & Gardens Book of Design; A Complete Resource, for Interior Style by Matthew Line

When choosing an area rug, the process of taking it home to see it in it's ultimate location, is invaluable. As the sun tracks across the sky the light within a house shifts, thus a rug in the early afternoon sun is going to appear much different than it does after the sun sets. What are the impacts of the artificial lighting on the rug? Whether you have a cool or warm artificial light, it effects the appearance of the objects in the room, rugs especially so. Whites may appear slightly yellow under warm lighting or slightly blue under cool lighting. The same goes for all the colors in the spectrum, for example under warm lighting blues may appear more green, or more purple under cool lighting.

"Colors are not static: artificial and natural light can exert very different influences over the same area and produce different effects within a few hours.This makes color matching in interiors particularly complex and is the reason why it should ideally be done after the installation of artificial lighting so that samples can be considered in situ."

Homes & Gardens Book of Design; A Complete Resource, for Interior Style by Matthew Line

It can seem like a lot to consider, but really it just comes down to these two specific points: 1.) Get your lighting situated before you make any final decisions on wall or textile colors. 2.) When choosing colors/textiles, especially an area rug, take samples or actual rugs home to try out before buying. See how the colors play throughout the day and after dark under artificial light. Seeing this will help you build confidence in choosing just the right rug for your space.

We have a whole showroom full of samples and rugs that can be taken home on approval. We allow you three days to spend with your rug/sample so you can see the lighting effects it at all times of day. Come visit us Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm at 297 Forest Avenue, Portland, ME 04101 to see what we have available!

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Cut Pile versus Looped Pile.

 What's the difference?

Your carpet’s pile type will have a significant impact on its appearance, comfort, durability, and ease of maintenance.

It can be overwhelming when first starting on a rug search. There are an endless number of things to consider: color, texture, pile thickness, sizing, material content. It can be hard to choose. This blog post is taking a look at one specific aspect of area rugs, cut pile versus looped pile. Hopefully this bit of information will help eliminate some of the confusion and give you confidence to make the best choice for you. 

Close up of cut pile above.

First, let's focus on cut pile. Cut pile is a style of carpet where the surface is sheared, exposing the ends of the cut carpet fiber.  Cut piles come in different fiber lengths from short sheared all the way up to shag. They are the most popular styles of carpet today and tend to be softer underfoot and softer to the touch than most loop pile carpets.The advantage of a cut pile carpet is that it is typically very dense making it durable but also comfortable, so great for living spaces like dens, bedrooms, and living rooms as well as hallways and stairs. Cut pile rugs, that are a solid color with no pattern, may show vacuum marks or footprints, heathered colors and patterns help hide footprints and vacuum tracks.

Close up of looped pile above.

Now, on to looped pile. The advantage of a loop pile carpet is that it is very durable and can stand up to heavy foot traffic. This makes it a good choice for hallways and stairs. It is also trackless, again meaning no vacuum marks or footprints will be visible. The disadvantage of loop pile is that the fibers can be snagged and pulled loose by sharp objects or pet claws (especially hand hooked rugs).  This can make a rug look disheveled over time (with hand hooked rugs you can completely lose small sections pile and end up with bare spots). Just remember to trim off (don't pull) any loose or untidy bits with a sharp pair of scissors.

Effects of rugs made with both looped and cut pile.


Using both cut and loop pile together in the same rug can create some interesting effects. With a loop pile you are looking at the side of the twisted of yarn, with cut pile you are looking at the ends of the cut yarn. Generally, cut pile absorbs light more giving a "darker" appearance while, loop pile reflects more light giving a brighter appearance. This effect can be minimized or maximized by the quality and type of yarn or fiber used in making the rug. 

When considering cleaning, we recommend cleaning cut and looped pile in the same way. Always start by blotting with a white cloth moistened with luke warm water. The material content of the rug and what was spilled is much more of a factor in how to clean it than the type of pile. For more information on cleaning rugs please read our previous blog Cleaning Your Wool Rug. Also feel free to contact us if you have any questions about how to clean you rug. 

So which is better? In most cases deciding between a cut pile or loop pile carpet is really just a matter of personal preference. Not all cut pile rugs nor all loop pile rugs are made equal. It really comes down to picking out something that you love!

Which do you like better loop or cut pile?

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Pantone Color of the Year 2020: Classic Blue

"For over 20 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.

The Pantone Color of the Year selection process requires thoughtful consideration and trend analysis. To arrive at the selection each year, Pantone’s color experts at the Pantone Color Institute comb the world looking for new color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films in production, traveling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, popular travel destinations, as well as new lifestyles, playstyles, and socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, and effects that impact color, relevant social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention."

We always get excited when Pantone announces their color of the year. It's wonderfully fun to mentally go through our inventory to figure out which rugs reflect the newest Pantone color of the year. Pantone is never boring and always on the leading edge of design, you can trust them to select something with pizzazz.

With Classic Blue the options are endless. Dash & Albert, a perennial favorite company of ours, offers Classic Blue in a superb variety of styles and constructions. To see them in person just stop by and we'll pull out some samples for you!

Classic Blue is exactly that, classic. That means you can find it in virtually and style of decor, from the most traditional to the most contemporary. Which is your preference?

To see an even larger variety of rugs with the Pantone 2020 Color of the year, Classic Blue, stop by our showroom @ 297 Forest Ave. in Portland (Right across the road from the USM library). We are open Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm.


We look forward to seeing you!

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Latest and Greatest

We say it all the time, because so it's true, we get new and exciting inventory in all the time - all styles and colors. It seems like we are opening packages everyday that contain either new one-of-a-kinds, or intriguing, new programmed rugs.

Since we are right in the middle of the Holiday Season and everyone is busy making merry, I thought I'd make it easy and put together a sampling of our new inventory for you to browse through at your leisure.

If you have questions about any of the rugs please feel free to call us. All the rugs pictured are present in our show room, you are welcome to come see them in person at our gallery on Forest Ave in Portland.

4'9"x7' Mamluk

8'1"x9'7" Afghan Harhang

8'10"x11'10" Harshang

9'1"x12''6" Anatolian

9x12 Garrus Bidjar


4'2"x5'11" Bakshyesh

2'7"x8' Afghan Serab

8'11"x12'1" Soft Melody


4'1"x6'1" Khanna

3'1"x10'2" Violet

5'11"x8'11" Khanna

5'5"x8' Tribal Kilim

9'1"x12'2" Anatolian

2'x2'10" Tribal Shirvan

5'11"x9'1" Mamluk

5'1"x6'5" Tribal Kilim


3'7"x9'8" Tribal Kilim

9'1"x12'5" Anatolian


3'x4'11" Afghan Kuba

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We've Got the Grey-Blues

Are you like us? Do you have gray fatigue? Not that we don't like gray - we do! - it's just that with current trends, the vast majority of our customers are looking for grays, with gray furniture, walls, cabinets, and/or counter tops they want to match. When we are showing 7 out of 8 customers gray rugs we get really excited when someone comes along looking for a bright coral, a brilliant teal, or a soothing green.

Whether it's an accent wall, a colorful rug, or some cheerful upholstery there are lots of ways to introduce more color into your decor. We've collected some colorful inspiration photos from our favorite design magazines to help give you some ideas to work from. Many years of helping customers find the right rug have taught us that finding photos of spaces that you like can help give you direction and inspiration for your own space. Take a look at our inspiration picks and see if you have the gray-blues too. Let's spice things up with some color!

Photo courtesy Maine Homes by Down East Magazine


Pictured above is a warm, welcoming, coral room featured in Maine Homes by Down East Magazine. (The room was designed by one of our favorite designers, Annie Stickney of Annie Stickney Designs!) Though the main rug in the room is a subtle neutral you can see tucked back in the entryway a lovely vintage Persian scatter rug. It beautifully complements the room and provides a colorful and practical rug for the entry. Traditionally patterned and colored rugs are great at hiding dirt and can withstand the heavy wear of a main entry. Check out the 3'5"x4'10" Farahan Sarouk I picked out that I think would look equally nice in a beautiful coral room like this one.


Green is such a fresh and lively color! The inspiration photo above from New England Home Magazine uses a great balance of dark and light greens and blues creating a cheerful and interesting space without feeling over the top. You can easily create this look by starting off with a custom cut and bound carpet from Bellbridge. Their L-squared line of flat woven wool plaids offer some nice classics in great colors.

The great thing about a plaid (more properly known as a tartan) is that it is a true classic, and great for bridging disparate design styles. Additionally, plaids are an excellent way of introducing multiple colors into a space. Most plaid designs will incorporate 3 + colors, giving you a great range of options from which to choose an accent color.

A cool crisp room with white walls and neutral furniture may need the introduction of a pop of bright color. Over-dyed rugs can be a super fun way to get that great pop, as in this coastal room featured in New England Home Magazine. Over dyed rugs are literally old traditional rugs that have their original color bleached out and then they are re-dyed with a trendy new super-saturated color. They can get pricy but you can get the same over-dyed look in a much lower price point with Kaleen Rugs', Relic and Restoration Collections.

Products featured above: Relic Heriz in avacado, Restoration in blue, Relic Heriz in purple

Maine Home and Design writes of the this room designed by Campion Platt, pictured above, "Bright decor paired with white furniture and metal accents help to keep the space airy and fun. Accent chairs with a pop of color or texture add dimension to the space without feeling overwhelming." 

Overwhelming a space by adding color is a common concern. Striking the right balance is important, but that does not mean avoiding color entirely. Mixing brights with neutral colors, mixing both deeper tones and lighter tones of a color, or combining some color with natural elements, like wood, stone, or plants, can help keep a space feeling colorfully interesting but not overwhelming.

Products featured above: Samarkand, Kimono Gold, Fleur

Products featured above: Bombay 318D, Canaan Forest, Rochambeau

Color doesn't have to be bright and in your face, it can be just as calm and soothing as white or grey. Individual colors evoke different moods, and combining certain colors can create different moods. This is part of what is known as color theory. For a really simple and straight forward explanation of color theory and how color can help you achieve a desired effect, check out Basic Color Theory. For example here is what they have to say about color harmony.

"Color Harmony

Harmony can be defined as a pleasing arrangement of parts, whether it be music, poetry, color, or even an ice cream sundae.

In visual experiences, harmony is something that is pleasing to the eye. It engages the viewer and it creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When something is not harmonious, it's either boring or chaotic. At one extreme is a visual experience that is so bland that the viewer is not engaged. The human brain will reject under-stimulating information. At the other extreme is a visual experience that is so overdone, so chaotic that the viewer can't stand to look at it. The human brain rejects what it cannot organize, what it cannot understand. The visual task requires that we present a logical structure. Color harmony delivers visual interest and a sense of order.

In summary, extreme unity leads to under-stimulation, extreme complexity leads to over-stimulation. Harmony is a dynamic equilibrium."

It's all about what is pleasing to your eye, that's the most important thing. Hopefully, if you are like us and are ready to move beyond just grays, you've found this post inspiring and helpful.

As always, if you have questions or would like some guidance come visit us at the gallery, we are always happy to help!


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Featured Rug: Fluxus Granite

If you are looking for a high quality, hand made rug with the freshest modern look, Fluxus Granite by Stark Studio Rugs may be the rug for you. Stark is a well know name that for years has been associated with the very best in designer area rugs. Using "Old World" weaving techniques, they have combined the best traditions of rug making with the most timely and on trend designs.

Hand knotted in Nepal, with the highest quality wool and silk, Fluxus Granite is available in standard sizes starting at 8x10, or can be custom made in any size.

Making Rugs By Hand by Stark Studio Rugs

"A hand knotted or hand woven rug represents the remarkable achievement of many highly skilled artisans. There are few, if any, other items you can purchase for your home on which more care and handwork has been lavished. Every stage of this ancient craft, from spinning the wool to trimming the pile of the finished rug, is carried out by hand – not out of stubbornness, but because there is no better way of making a rug."

Fluxus Granite is the best of the old and new worlds of rug making, with it's exquisite construction and fine modern sensibilities. We love it because of it's bold splash of interest and asymmetrical design, it feels active, almost interactive, as if were you to squish your feet around in the soft wool and silk pile you could shift and change the pattern yourself. Though only including white, black, grey, and a little gold, Fluxus Granite is not boring, it is dynamic and interesting, and will play well with whatever modern or minimalist accent pieces you choose.

If you are attracted to Fluxus Granite and would like to see it in person we have it here in our show room to see in a 9'x12'. We also have a 2x3 sample piece to easily transport home if you want to see the colors in your space. Please stop by anytime Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm and we'll introduce you to the beauty that is Fluxus Granite and Stark Studio Rugs.

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"When an interior designer refers to texture they are speaking to the surface quality of a material. Every surface has a texture whether it be smooth or rough, bumpy or flat." Continue reading

Vintage Rugs Friendly For Any Budget

Creating a stylish and comfortable living space shouldn't cost a fortune, and it doesn't have to. Sometimes it just takes a little extra time and poking around in unexpected places to find the unique and interesting pieces that you love at an affordable price.

Bradford's Rug Gallery prides it's self on offering, not only the best of the best in handmade area rugs, but also on offering handmade, vintage and antique  inventory in a range of pricing. Some people just can't accept home decor with that mass produced, machine-made look and want something, special, unique and interesting, all traits you find in handmade one of a kind rugs. While the adjectives "handmade and one of a kind" are typically followed by thoughts of exclusiveness and high cost, that doesn't have to be the case. 

We've curated a collection of inspirational decor photos and matched them with affordable vintage rugs we currently have in stock at our Forest Avenue showroom. We want to inspire you to make your living space as one of a kind as you are.

What makes these particular hand-made, one of a kind rugs so affordable? Multiple things. Most of the rugs in this collection are pieces that show distinct signs of wear, whether it's fraying ends, worn away pile, actual holes, or unravelling sides. These are rugs that have been authentically distressed. There is nothing with more character than a slightly shabby old rug, you'll never find two that look exactly the same. 

Holes? Fraying ends? You may ask why you would want to spend money on a "damaged" rug, and we would tell you - because there is still a lot of life in that rug! Hand knotted (or hand woven) rugs are constructed in such a way that they are incredibly durable, a little wear or a hole here or there will not compromise the functionality of a rug. They can be hand washed with excellent results and small repairs can be made as necessary to promote longevity. There isn't likely anything you or your family could throw at one of these rugs that it hasn't already lived though.

Age is another factor in finding great, vintage rugs at modest prices. Most rugs made from about 1920 through the early 1980s have the misfortune of being knotted with yarns dyed with synthetic chrome dyes. At that time those relatively new chrome dyes were of poor quality and their resulting colors can seem over bright to a collector who is wanting to buy antiques with softer, more subtle natural dyes. These mid-century, synthetically dyed rugs can fade and loose some of their jarring notes, acquiring appeal that only age and use can impart. Take for example the Persian Tuisarkan featured below, made sometime in the 1950s with chrome dyes, it is in excellent condition, with thick, soft pile, though tempered by time the chrome dyes are still apparent. It may not be appealing to the more serious collector, but all the better for those of us on a budget. It is an excellent quality rug that is kid and pet friendly, will last a lifetime and cost a fraction of what an older Persian with natural dyes would cost.

One of a kind rugs are just that - one-of-a-kind, finding the perfect size with the exact right look, or the exact right colors may not be in the cards, but if you are willing to be flexible and work with the rugs that speak to you, you are likely to come up with a result that is beautiful, unique and all your own. White walls with white trim is a favorite among designers and home renovators to complement a modern aesthetic with interesting vintage pieces, seamlessly blending the old and new. See inspiration photos above and below.

Photo Courtesy - "A Bungalow Full of Thrify Finds and Charming Surprizes"

All of the rugs (room scene rugs not included) featured in this blog are available to be seen in person at our showroom or available to be purchased online (click on the rug photo for more information). As a rule, we highly encourage our customers to bring rugs home on trial. Colors in photographs never read true, we've all gone through the process of ordering something online and being immensely disappointed by the actual color of the product when it arrives. Here at Bradford's we have a process by which we allow rugs to be taken home for a 3 day approval period. If you don't like the rug, just return it within 3 days. There is no substitute for seeing rugs in person! If you buy a rug from us online we offer the same 3 day return policy (some exclusions my apply). We like knowing that we've done everything possible to make sure you are buying the exact right rug for you.

For more Antique and Vintage rugs, in all price ranges, check out the following collections on our website.

If you have an antique or vintage, hand knotted rug that you are interested in selling, we may be interested in buying it. Please send photos of the rug you are interested in selling to
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Rug Myths Demystified

There's a lot about hand-made rugs that is confusing and can be mis-understood, which understandably, makes your average consumer less than confident about making a rug purchase. Here we will go over some of the most popular myths and talk about what is true and what isn't, we'll try to give you the information you need to feel confident about buying a hand-made rug.

Myth #1: New Oriental rugs are no longer made by hand.

Due to current and past US sanctions on Iran it's easy to understand how this myth has gained footing, but it is not at all accurate. In 1979 when President Jimmy Carter instituted the first trade sanctions on Iran, this left an opening in the hand-made rug market, allowing for new weaving facilities, in countries like China, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, to develop. Although early rug production from these countries may not have met the quality level of the Persian rugs, over time their quality has improved and in present time you can easily find high quality, hand made Oriental rugs from all over the world. You can even find new rugs, hand made with natural dyes and hand spun wool, the same way rugs were made thousands of years ago.

If you want help identifying the deference between a machine made rug and a hand made rug please visit our show room and we'll be happy to teach you.

Myth #2: Old Oriental rugs are more valuable than new Oriental rugs.

The truth to this myth is a little less cut and dry. Old is a relative term, 30 or 40 years may seem old us, but for a rug that is on the younger side. The term antique is only given to rugs that have acquired the age of 100 years or more, and typically it is only these rugs that start to acquire value rather than deteriorate in value. The age of a rug alone does not determine it's value, many factors play a part including condition, color, rarity, etc.

When comparing the relative value of old and new rugs, of the same quality, it is helpful to consider the difference between "value" and "cost". Value is what a consumer believes a product is worth to them, cost being the amount spent to obtain a product. Generally, with Oriental rugs that are less than 100 years old, their value is going to be less than what it would cost to purchase a new rug of the same quality. So in looking at it that way, the majority of old rugs are going to be less "valuable" than new rugs of the same quality. In the same sense, Oriental rugs that are over 100 years old generally begin to acquire value, meaning over time they have gained desirability, rarity, or importance etc., which can then mean the exact opposite - antique rugs can have more value than new rugs of the same quality. Remember that we are speaking of rugs of the same quality - meaning an old hand knotted Oriental rug versus a new hand knotted Oriental rug. When you are speaking of different rug qualities (i.e. hand tufted, hand hooked, machine made) these same value rules may not apply.

Myth #3: New Oriental rugs are given an old look with a tea bath in order to trick the consumer.

Many new Oriental rugs have been pre-aged in some way, but it is not done to confuse the buyer but rather to add appeal to the rug. New rugs (possibly up to 90% of new rugs on the market) are given a wash in a chemical solution (usually containing chlorine) to tone down their colors and give the wool a beautiful luster. "Specialists carefully formulate the 'wash', as it is called, aiming at a solution that is strong enough to impart the softness of age, but not so strong as to corrode wool and radically fade colors." - Emmett Eiland, Oriental Rugs Today, 2003 

Other aging techniques include herbal washes made from a combination of tea and henna, madder (a natural dye) washes, sun fading, blow-torching, extreme clipping and some rugs are even spread out in the streets "...for man, beast, machine, and elements to render them into semi-antiques" in a matter of just a few weeks. -  Emmett Eiland, Oriental Rugs Today, 2003 

Regardless of how a rug is artificially aged, a reputable rug dealer will never mislead a customer into thinking that a new "antiqued" rug is actually an old rug. All new rugs are made to fill a demanding market. "It is very important to many people to get just the right look in their homes, especially people with good taste. Not everyone has $25,000 to spend on an antique rug, or sixty years to wait for a new rug to grow old. Even if you have the money to spend, it's not always possible to find the right antique rug. Yes, distressing a rug may take years of useful life out of it, but a new, distressed rug will last at least as long as a $25,000 antique and cost a third as much. As long as people know what they are buying, why not give them what they want, if we can?" - Emmett Eiland quoting Jack Simantob, Oriental Rugs Today, 2003


Myth #4: Knot count is the most important factor in determining the quality of a rug.

This is a frequently held belief that is mis-guided. Knot count is one factor to consider when choosing a rug, and by all means a rug with a high knot count will most certainly be more expensive than a rug with a lower knot count, but it is not the only factor that determines a rug's quality. 

The knot count of a rug will tell you the fineness of the rug, but a well-made, hand-knotted rug can be more or less fine and still be equally good in quality.

For more information on knot count please see our previous blog post Rug Speak: Knot Count

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to stop by our show room at 297 Forest Ave, in Portland or contact us. We are always happy to talk rugs!

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Featured Rug: 4'10"x7' Tuisarkhan

Hand knotted in the Hamadan province of Iran circa 1920, this 4'10" x7' Tuisarkhan boasts beautiful, vibrant colors and a richly detailed pattern. In great condition, with only some minor border loss on either end, it still has it's soft, medium thick pile that shows little to no wear.

I've chosen to feature this rug today because of it's magnificently rich jewel tones. The small medallion in the very center caught my eye, with it's blue abrash, it adds dimension that makes it truly stand out. This Tuisarkhan is a step above it's compatriots due to it's brilliance of color and fineness of detail. The center medallion pattern feels balanced and active without feeling busy. The slightly geometric vining flowers keep your eyes moving along the entire length of the rug.

The city of Hamadan is the largest in the Hamadan Province of Iran, the city's "bazaars were supplied by the migratory tribes with superb, traditional carpet products whose method of construction (the use of a single heavy cotton weft between each row of Turkish knots) is known as the 'Hamadan' weave." (Oriental Rugs Vol. 2 Persian) Tuisarkhan, a town located about 100 km south of Hamadan city was one of many surrounding cities and towns to supply the Hamadan bazaars with hand knotted rugs. Surrounded by the Zagros mountains, the weather is mild and nice in the summer and cold in the winter. This beautiful and rugged landscape surely provided much inspiration of the rug weavers of Tuisarkhan.

If you are looking for an hard wearing, easy to keep looking great, kitchen or entry rug - this is a perfect choice for you! It's beautiful colors and pattern will help hide stains and can withstand daily traffic. If you would like to see more vintage or antique rugs like this one please visit our Antique and Vintage collections.
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