Rugs, Glorious Rugs

Decorating a House from the Bottom Up

Who doesn’t love to be knocked on the head with a quote from Atlas Shrugged? “There was an air of luxury about the room, but it was the luxury of expert simplicity;… she noticed an Oriental rug of a texture and color that belonged… in a museum.”

This is the line I recall most vividly from her books. Not sure what this says about me, other than I’m able to frack design tips from the hardest of rocks. But from then on I understood the significance of having a quality rug in one’s home.

Whether vintage or contemporary, handmade rugs make a house warm and inviting. They feel good beneath your bare feet and make you happy when you look at them. You remember when you bought it and why you fell in love with it. If the rug is antique, you imagine the family who owned it before you, how they lived and what they celebrated.

Westport resident Mike Alidadi owns one of the few handmade (hand-loomed, hand-knotted or hand-woven) rug stores in Fairfield County: Apadana Fine Rugs. Apadana sells custom, contemporary and vintage rugs and offers cleaning and design services. We sat among piles and piles of gorgeous coverings in his SoNo store (he’s moving to Westport Avenue next fall) and I could have spent a lovely few days exhausting his workers so I could see them all.

Mike’s “pickers” and agents in Europe scour rug markets around the globe to bring back a mix of finest rugs available. His rugs aren’t inexpensive; a quality cover is an investment. Which makes sense, seeing as one rug easily takes more than three months to create.

Rugs are woven or knotted on a vertical loom with thousands of threads. The loom requires one person for every three feet of rug. So a nine foot rug requires three weavers, for those of you without a calculator.

Due to the complex patterns, weavers must communicate throughout the entirety of the process. A seasoned weaver knows most patterns from memory. “Like a professional actor, they can remember the script,” Mike explains. For new patterns they follow a drawing.

Now, this rug can be digitally photographed and churned out in a few hours by machine at a fraction of the cost, but it will lack color quality and depth and won’t be as as soft underfoot. The knock-off will look nice for a few years before wearing out, whereas a handmade one endures high heels and toy trucks for generations.

Only a few short years ago rug dealers stuffed their stores with safe hues: red, blue, beige and grey. But - shout out to the lovely folks at Pantone - color is coming back and Apadana is all over the trend with stunning pinks, corals, greens and more (in addition to the reds, beiges, etc.). And Mike couldn’t be more pleased, “When you have a colorful rug in your house it makes you happy.” Even if my home weren’t already blasted with color, I’d agree.

Oh, and if you have a mom like mine, or you ARE a mom like mine, you’ll pelt me with dozens of rug-care quandaries the moment I mention my meeting with Mike. Fortunately Apadana’s website provides answers, from what to do when the dog defaces a new rug to Rugs 101. There’s also a posting about holiday decorating on the cheap. Smart idea: you can funnel your savings into a new rug.

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