things that make a house a home

I know very little about this antique Oriental rug other than the pattern seems to be what would fall possibly into Caucasian category. But I am not an expert, I just pick up rugs I think are homey or would fit in my home.

It’s not a very big rug, it’s just under 35“ x 45“. Just a little scatter rug. It’s a little worn in spots and it’s fringe is virtually gone as it was the wool of the rug itself. And it’s wider at one end than the other. But I love it and it’s one of those things to me that helps make a house a home.

Old oriental rugs are one of my earliest memories of things I liked in houses even as a little girl. My mother will tell you a story of me sitting on a giant oriental rug playing with a very fat Persian cat. Neighbors of ours when I was little.

Other major oriental rugs that hang out in my memory is like the giant one that used to be in the dining room of the Ardrossan estate in Villanova. I don’t know if it’s still there because when I was in my 20s it was very threadbare on the edges then and you had to watch not to catch your heel in the carpet. I have seen pictures of the dining room in the past few years and I don’t think that’s the same rug that I remember. The rug I remember had reds and deep blues in it. But I digress.

My mother likes oriental rugs as well, but styles she likes aren’t the same as I like. She always liked paler shades that you were afraid of walking on and as a matter fact she trained our dogs growing up to walk around the edges of the rugs.

I always like the stronger shades of color. I like the rugs that you think of seeing in an old British library with a fire dancing in the fireplace surrounded by beautiful mahogany wood paneling on the walls and books and a soft old Chesterfield sofa. You know, the kind of room you would expect to see Winston Churchill reading a book in.

And I’m not the person that you’re going to see in fancy oriental rug galleries buying rugs. All the rugs I have found have been picked out of places like the Smithfield Barn at a recent offsite sale, downsizing sales like those held by Caring Transitions, garage sales, Church auctions. (One of the best places to pick up really cool sometimes threadbare in places old oriental rugs is the Saint Davids Fair Auction which is not happening this year because of COVID19.)

The rugs I look for and some of my friends as well aren’t these perfect museum quality high end auction house rugs. They have been well loved and in many cases we’ve had to get slight repairs done before we could use them as well as getting them cleaned for moths.

I once gave Pixie from Zakian a bit of a start when I picked up a rug sight unseen from an estate sale around Charleston, South Carolina. One of my closest friends picked up the rug for me and shipped it to me. I figured because the rug was wool and had been in a southern climate in a very old house that looked slightly decrepit in photos that I shouldn’t bring it into the house until it was cleaned and that it probably might have moth damage.

Well, it arrived and it’s a good thing the moving box stayed on the porch until Zakian Rugs fetched it for cleaning. It was full of live moths when unwrapped for cleaning and repairs. Yes live moths.

I picked up a runner one time from a local auction house and they told me it was clean and I wasn’t sure so I sent it right out for cleaning, and that was loaded with moths. So old rugs can be a gamble. But when they are cleaned and repaired they are lovely.

Again, I don’t go for the rarest of the rare or the extraordinarily valuable antique rugs. I don’t even pretend to know enough to know what I should buy, nor can I afford them. In addition so many of them are overpriced. I choose the ones that need a little love.

It’s kind of like old patchwork quilts. I love them as well. The ones I choose aren’t the museum quality rare quilts from quilt dealers all over the country. I choose the ones I can pick up again at church auctions and tag sales and the more. I like to restore and patch them so I can use them.

I have written about old quilts before, and they are one of the other things that I think make a house a home. A lot of people have to have shiny new bedspreads and high-end designer quilts, I prefer the look of patchwork quilts. I have one that I picked up on eBay from someone in Maine that I have been working on for two years that I’m almost finish repairing all the threadbare patches. I picked up a neat one and another offsite sale for the Smithfield Barn a few months ago. It’s on my guestroom bed and it’s red and white and I just love it!

I think now more than ever especially with the year that 2020 has been our houses need to be homes. So try an old patchwork quilt, or a little tiny old oriental scatter rug, or even a vintage tablecloth. Don’t live in a beige, beige world. Add color and character instead of something brand new and always man made fibers.

Thanks for stopping by!

how to re-make an american quilt

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Five days with no power, centralized heat, or running water and ten days with no land line phone, Internet, or television means I had some old-fashioned time on my hands after Ice Storm 2014 and all the snow that followed . (Verizon FiOs finally got to us yesterday.)

Anyway, I had picked up this vintage handmade lap quilt at the Smithfield Barn but hadn’t had time to re-band and repair it. I had all these cool remnants of fabric from the barn as well. I also have yards of this cotton lace I had picked up a few years ago at St. David’s Fair.

I love hand made and vintage pieced and patchwork quilts, but I am not a quilter. But I have repaired quite a few vintage quilts now, adding my own touches. Sometimes some ribbon, or fabric, or lace, or even a little embroidery. I do hand stitching because I am not really adept at using a sewing machine the way my mother is.

I bought the lap quilt because it is a great size in addition to liking the fabric squares in it. It is a little over five feet and is square in shape and it is very heavy and warm. The quilt was a little beat up so I have been stitching away. I am on the last piece of re-banding. I sewed a few hours straight today and wow my hands are sore!

Once I finish the basic re-banding I will then finish any patching left in the body of the quilt and then I will do the corners and layer on some other touches. When it’s done it will make a great quilt to curl up on the sofa with. Will it be perfect? No. I am experimenting to see if I like it, but it will once again be usable. And cheerful.

Some people collect vintage quilts for display but I like to use them.

To me a vintage quilt is home. My mother has a couple that came from my grandmother’s people in Lancaster. I have her crocheted afghans. All of that to me is home. And that is the great thing about making and creating your own home: to have your home carry the happy reminders of past lives forward.

Home + Vintage = creating new memories in your home

quilts!

One of my most favorite things are vintage handmade quilts.  Maybe it is part of the legacy of having had a Pennsylvania German grandmother, I don’t really know.  I am not a quilter, but I admire it as a  usable folk art form.  I actually have a couple of friends who are quilters .

Quilts are just cool, and quilting has been a popular craft in the United States since the 1700s.   In a sense, it is the ultimate folk art . ( A fun blog to check out on the topic is Tom Miner Quilts and Folk Art.)

Some of these vintage quilts can be very expensive, and they come in all colors and patterns.  Many tell a story, yes story quilts. Or memory quilts.  I hear there are quilt shows, but have never been to one. Quilts are history in textiles.

I look for simple quilts.  I find them at tag sales, church sales, flea markets and there are a lot on eBay if you know what you are doing.

I will admit I am cheap, so I won’t pay much.  A lot of people decorate with quilts, and there is a Pinterest Board about that and a little video on HGTV’s website that is about decorating with quilts.

I use my quilts, and I like to look at them so you will often find a stack perched on a guest room bed.  I know people who have quilts tabbed and semi-mounted for wall hanging.

Country Living Magazine periodically has things about decorating with quilts. (Speaking of Country Living Magazine, you can still nominate this blog for a Blue Ribbon Blogger Award until July 29, 2012!)

A couple of quilts I have acquired have needed a little TLC and I have learned to patch them with scraps of ribbon, lace, and fabrics that meld with whatever the quilt has as afar as color and pattern.  And you know what? For a loving hands at home bit of TLC, it works just fine!

Vintage quilts were made to be used, so seek them out.  I will note that no vintage quilt ever goes on a bed without being cleaned first.  I have never bought one that is dirty, truthfully, just something I think makes a common sense best practice.

If you know of places to find fun quilts, or shows that feature quilts, please feel free to post a comment!