There’s just something special about a home that’s decorated with vintage pieces. Older items add interest and almost always come with a story. While I could wax poetic about all the mid-century dressers I’ve ever known and loved, what I really hold a special place in my heart for is vintage rugs.
A vintage rug can add instant character to even the blandest, builder-grade home. While larger area rugs can be quite pricey, take one look at an online retailer’s inventory and you’ll quickly discover a more affordable option: the tiny Turkish rug. These little stunners can vary in size, but most hover somewhere in the 2-foot by-3-foot range. While they do come in a range of prices, I’ve seen them priced as low as $30 on Etsy.
Buying vintage anything from the internet can feel intimidating, so I turned to an expert, Heather Cade, for some tips on what to look for and how to style a smaller rug in your home without it looking silly and too small for your space. Cade is a vintage rug collector and co-owner of Washington, D.C.-based District Loom, a vintage rug emporium that she runs along with her husband, Brett.
Cade says these tiny Turkish rugs are actually called “yastiks.” First and foremost, according to Cade, it’s important to look closely at the pattern around the edges of a yastik to make sure the border trim is displayed on all four corners. “You may notice the lower-priced Turkish mats have been cut, which decreases their value and visual symmetry,” says Cade.
“It’s always smart to look closely for holes, uneven wear, and potential repairs [you’ll have to have made]. Oh, and always ask if it has been professionally cleaned, too!”
Even if you don’t need a doormat, you can still use one of these small textiles to add some color, texture, and pattern to your home. Here are some styling ideas.
DIY a Pillow
According to Cade, these petite rugs were not actually made for use as doormats at all. “They were made for use as pillow covers for Turkish village home decor,” she says. To get this look, pair a small Turkish rug with canvas backing, sew along the hem, stuff the cover you’re making with a pillow insert, and you’ve got yourself a simple, gratifying weekend project! You can see one in my home above.
Upgrade your Bath Mat
“My go-to uses for these cuties are in front of the kitchen or bathroom sink,” says Cade. A boring bathroom is no match for a little vintage charm, and this styling option is certainly approved by the pros. Just be sure to add a rug pad if you’re worried about slippage.
A Bedside Accessory
This option would work especially well in a smaller room. Frame out your nightstand with a small rug by your bedside, so you can start each day with a peek at something that brings you joy. Bonus: Stepping on a rug also will keep your feet warm on cold mornings.
In Front of a Floor Mirror
Step up your selfie game with a touch of vintage charm. Place a yastik just in front of your mirror for a picture-perfect vignette.
Hang as Wall Art
Sometimes you find a piece that’s just too pretty to be on the ground. You can transform a tiny Turkish rug into art for your walls by popping it into a frame or attaching it to a dowel rod. Try hanging one horizontally above a twin-sized bed for a unique headboard look.
Over the Back of a Chair
It’s a little unconventional, but hear me out. This styling trick would look particularly gorgeous on an accent chair that doesn’t have its back facing a wall.
In the Kitchen
Another of Cade’s tried-and-true styling choices, add a small Turkish rug in front of your kitchen sink for a little cheer. This is especially helpful in drab rental kitchens, where glow-ups can feel tough to pull off.
To Anchor a Desk
Working from home? Keep your feet cozy and anchor your desk setup with a tiny Turkish rug. Look for a slightly larger, runner size (as shown above), if you want to ground multiple workstations. Otherwise, you can stick to something smaller.
Yes, as a doormat
Welcome visitors (when that’s safe again) into your home with a statement piece right inside the door! These flat-woven rugs are easier to clean than you might think, so they can handle spots with heavier foot traffic.