Posted by Steve Price on 08-08-2007 02:42 PM:

The Four Questions

Hi Jerry

I think things have a fighting chance of being more organized if we separate the photos of peoples' digs from their responses to the questions, and have one thread just for that. So, I am starting that thread. Right here, right now.

The questions you asked are:
1. What are our attitudes toward placing rare rugs in locations where they will receive wear?
2. Do the colors and patterns of oriental rugs and textiles make it difficult to use them to decorate a room?
3. Is too much ever too much?
4. Do your friends and neighbors think that youíre nuts? (Öwith regard to your use of rugs Ė not for other possible reasons)

My answers:
1. We don't put antique rugs into high traffic areas. Bedroom floors are OK, entryways and main paths through the house get 20th century rugs and carpets.
2. We generally choose colors to go with the rugs, although this isn't much of an issue in our home. We live fairly deep in the woods, so we use no draperies and have no drapery fabrics to coordinate. Our upholstered furniture is mostly covered in leathers or fabrics with unobtrusive patterns (tone-on-tone, for instance) in neutral colors.
3. Too much rugs and textiles? You know how much I hate hearing somebody talk like a damn fool.
4. My friends and neighbors think I'm nuts; rugs is among their reasons.


Steve Price

Posted by Wendel Swan on 08-08-2007 03:51 PM:

Hi Jerry and all,

1. What are our attitudes toward placing rare rugs in locations where they will receive wear? Everyone has a different concept of rare. The oldest and rarest are and ought to be, reserved for the walls. We have a good ivory ground Bijar (below) that already had some wear, but itís been on the floor for over 20 years. Admittedly, it doesnít get a lot of foot traffic.

2. Do the colors and patterns of oriental rugs and textiles make it difficult to use them to decorate a room? I donít think difficult is the right word, but our furniture is intentionally either simple modern or simple antique. We have Persian rugs on the floors and mainly NWP bags and trappings on the walls.

However, not all rugs and all furniture are compatible, just as some rugs will clash with others on the wall. Generally speaking, minimalist rugs such as gabbehs donít mix well with ornate furniture and finely woven Persian rugs donít mix with primitive furniture. Chinese furniture requires Chinese rugs. And so on. Of course, Moroccan rugs donít go with anything.

3. Is too much ever too much? Definitely. But I donít like clutter. I believe that displaying rugs as art requires that each has some breathing room. Just as you would put a frame around an oil painting, a floor rug needs a ďframeĒ in the sense of open wood around it. And, sorry Pat, I donít plaster rugs cheek by jowl on the walls. They need room as well.

Donít we all admire weavings that arenít cluttered? Donít we notice the beneficial effect of some open color areas? Why would it be any different with the display of rugs?

I know of one exception. A collector in Richmond, Virginia had a rug or textile on virtually every surface in his townhouse Ė on the floors, on the walls, on the tables, on the ceilings, on the chairs. Kilims on the beds, tent bands running up the staircase ceiling, rugs here, bags on chairs there. Yet his over-the-top style was actually acceptable.

To me, how objects are displayed is almost as important as what is displayed.

4. Do your friends and neighbors think that youíre nuts? (Öwith regard to your use of rugs Ė not for other possible reasons) Iím sure some do, but they donít say so. Others like the look. Jerry, John, Marvin and Steve and others have all been here. They can say. Following is a picture that appeared in the Chicago Tribune a few years ago.

Thatís the way our living room almost always looks, although some of the smaller pieces rotate. For anyone who cares, all the modern furniture is Knoll and we bought it, the bronze cheetah and the dresser base in Chicago over 30 years ago.


Posted by R. John Howe on 08-09-2007 12:06 PM:

Dear folks -

Here are my answers to Jerry's four questions:

1. What are our attitudes toward placing rare rugs in locations where they will receive wear?

We only have one piece down, and that only sometimes, that might be classified as "rare" (although that is actually a more stringent category than that to which even this rug can claim membership). For a few months each year we have an antique Yomut main carpet down in our living room. It is exposed to wear and to the possibility of "dog" accidents during that period. But most of the time we have only contemporary rugs on the floor.

My wife has a position that is related to this question. She claims that "rugs" should be placed ONLY on the floor and protests about my rather visible tendency to put rugs and textiles on walls.

2. Do the colors and patterns of oriental rugs and textiles make it difficult to use them to decorate a room?

While we clearly have our preferences about the sorts of things we include in our collections, I don't think that we can ever be accused of thinking of our rooms as an interior decorator might.

We have kept the walls off white and had the oak floors refinished. I remember Bill Moore, a rug dealer in Cleveland, who DID hang out in interior decorating circles, arguing that, if one kept the walls, ceilings and floors neutral colors, one could basically turn one's self loose using rugs and textiles to provide color.

I don't consciously think much about putting up pieces whose colors might be though to harmonize better with one another. Mostly I just respond to Jo's strident comments about my garish Siirt horsecover when it floats to the top of the pile.

3. Is too much ever too much?

Probably, and our place may be such a case. Wendel talks about "clutter." It would be hard not to plead guilty, with this many objects closely arrayed on every side. I think the best you can say about our place is that it is "cozy." We clearly haven't yet felt the heat of this criticism at levels that are causing us to do much about it [although I did "de-accession" (that's classier than "sell") four larger pieces from my pile last week].

4. Do your friends and neighbors think that youíre nuts? (Öwith regard to your use of rugs Ė not for other possible reasons)

Our friends and neighbors are pretty well mannered so we may not have full access to what others think about our place and or collecting tendencies. I think we see signs that they think we are "unusual" in that respect.

I was once hosting a visiting Russian rug curator from Moscow. Russian curators have to have a second job in order to "live" at all. This one wrote for a Russian interior design magazine. Coming in the door she stopped and said, "I've got to have pictures!!!" We were never able to deliver a set that met her publishing requirements, but she was visibly struck by the strange, intensive juxtaposition of weavings and collie artifacts with which she was confronted.


R. John Howe

Posted by James Blanchard on 08-09-2007 06:15 PM:

Hi all,

I am more recent than most to rugs, but here are my answers to the four questions:

1. We do have some of our older and rarer rugs on the floor, but try to reserve the low or no traffic areas for our dearest and most fragile. Most of the reason for this is that we have some larger rugs (up to 9 ft), and it is difficult to use them anywhere else. With these larger rugs, we tend to rotate them in and out of circulation, calculating that if floor space is used by 2-3 rugs it will more than double its lifespan. Besides, it allows you to redecorate from time to time by simply opening up the cedar closet.

2. We prefer to select our floors, wall paint and furniture to complement the rugs, not vice-versa. Rugs are our most expensive items in most rooms, so that seems only logical.

3. Yes, I think that there is a "too much" in displaying rugs in a home. Many rugs look much better if they have some non-distracting space around them so that they can convey an independent visual impact. I find that cramming rugs together would be almost like putting 4 paintings in one frame. What we do is rotate rugs so at any given time there are some rugs on display and some in a cedar closet. This provides and means and an impetus to change the look of our rooms from time to time.

4. We tend to be a bit more restrained in the use of rugs in our home than some others around here.... (not mentioning any names). So our family and friends don't think we're TOO weird, at least not on that account. Luckily, most of my in-laws are Dutch, so many of them think it is perfectly natural to put rugs on tables and other furniture. People are more likely to raise eyebrows over the fact that we actually spent money on some of these "worn out" rugs, when you can get much fancier ones in good shape at the local department store.


Posted by Jerry Silverman on 08-13-2007 04:04 AM:

C'mon, folks, chime in....

My four questions aren't all that tricky. And you don't even have to submit pictures of your homes to participate.

Let's hear what you think.



Posted by Marty Grove on 08-13-2007 11:57 AM:

bluddy 'ell - you lot are game!

Jerrys Salon is all very well for us to open up a bit, as it hopefully will be an unlikely internet strike by uncool persons to come across our chatting about our possessions, however hope there are no repercussions from the Insurance providers for us by doing so...

Q1. In my own case, the question of rare isnt an issue, not really having anything 'rare' in a precious or monetary sense - but thats not to say I dont treasure my poor weavings like they carry immense value. None of us here would willingly disrespect someones hard work by carelessness and particularly hard useage, so those things carrying a bit of age and fragility get 'walled', tabled, or rolled for later showings.

This winter past, my aged 'Ersari type' Mar gulled Afghan was added to the living room layers primarily because this winter was the hardest I can remember, both probably because of my age...

Luckily, I live alone and my friends know my place is a footwear free zone (Ill provide heavy wool socks if necessary) so a question of undue wear doesnt really exist, at least from hard and sharp leather, or squeaky rubber.

Q2. Clashes of colour, pattern and contrasts etc, dont bother me much, probably because Ive always considered myself entirely devoid of conventional 'taste', although recognise when someone else has it - thus the freedom to explore ways of creating a comfortable zone within a riot of glorious colour and pattern is always available. Another benefit of solitary living Also, my preference is for the geometrical, which tends to harmonise disparate things in some fashion I cant explain.

Q3. Too much? Never! Only my guilt at always seeming to have more than necessary for a comfortable environment tends to restrict me, but generally can assuage that by passing on as gifts those pieces which have finally passed to the bottom of the pile. To be entirely truthful, if I had any money I would buy a larger house because my little cabin really is small and overflowing up to its eaves with wonderful artifacts of generally insignificant value.

Unfortunately, weavings are only one of my obsessions to accumulate - there always has to be room enough for all the other stuff... (what my worldly and tasteful brother refers to as junk)

Q4. My friends and neighbors KNOW how strange I am because I tell them so Its all part of my 'security/anti break in' strategy, because once they see how I try to fit myself within such a kaleidescopic explosion of 'art' and 'artifacts', they realise there is something seriously adrift here, and pass the word on. And people then tend to avoid the 'weirdo's' place - so far, fingers crossed...

Any uninvited visitors will be awfully disappointed, and at the same time get an unexpected (and unpleasant) surprise

One of the most important things for people to understand about we who love carpets and rugs, is that one doesnt have to be rich or famous to indulge, just passionate.


Posted by Steve Price on 08-13-2007 12:35 PM:

Hi Marty

We live on 8 acres, mostly heavily wooded. If anyone breaks in while we're home, we'll bury him next to the last guy that did so. The neighbors will help with the shoveling in return for a spot at the wake.


Steve Price

Posted by Marty Grove on 08-13-2007 12:55 PM:

Spot on Steve!

I no longer live in the wilds so have to conform a little to the usual expectations of society - being tame isnt half so much fun!

Unfortunately, in this current explosion of mining exuberance which OZ is now undergoing, miners no longer have that cachet of danger, fear and excitement which once was evident - every man and his woman it seems nowadays, are heading off to the mines - and the loss of fear of miners and mining has opened the way for some adventurous souls to test the defences - always gotta be on the lookout...


Posted by R. John Howe on 08-16-2007 11:47 AM:

Hey Marty -

Excuse this aside, but please send me your email address at

Under the heading of "Aussies Make the Best Commercials," I want to ask you about an interesting instance that has come my way.

Out in the "wilds," so to speak.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Larkin on 08-18-2007 10:01 AM:

Hi Jerry,

My silence on this line doesn't mean I don't find your questions apt, interesting and fun. I have been hoping to scramble up a few photos from around the house, but that may never happen. Steve and Filiberto (our version of the techies) will breath a sigh of relief.

1. Put decent antique rugs where they will receive wear? Good lord, no!! However, I will sometimes put one or two nice pieces out for a special occasion. I try to put them a little out of the main line of fire, in view but not in danger. I figure the odd footfall isn't going to make much difference. I'm generally more worried about a tear or end or edge undermining (unravelling) than wear, strictly speaking. Also, I have one or two "noble wrecks" that nevertheless look good where they are being used, and I don't worry too much about bringing on a tad more "nobility" (or is that "wrecked-ness?").

What really frosts me is to find other people who have been blessed with nice old rugs (usually, one finds chance inheritance at work) who don't know enough to take care of them. Recently, I was visiting a client at home and there was an old and much better than average Chi-Chi style Caucasian rug jammed into a tiny office cubicle under the desk, chair, etc. It was quite fine, and one could see immediately that the pile was intact, but there were huge losses at the ends from not having been reinforced; and the poor thing was all scrunched and grunched under that office stuff. Moreover, the end losses looked fresh, and the house was inhabited by a couple of amusing but exceedingly bumptious black labs. I shiver as I type it now. The family was oblivious when I arrived, and they are now. Nice people, though.

2. Difficult to decorate with them? If the rug in question has the horsepower, one can use it (or them) as the focal point of the decor of the room, and it is a question of doing that effectively. What is more difficult is to make the decorative approach account successfully for all the rugs you have, or want to use. (This gets to the issues of question three.) Some interior designers, such as my sweetie, Martha, can harmonize a challenging batch of varied items with great skill.

I used to think that it didn't matter about the decorative scheme of the room. Good rugs trumped all that. I have learned from Martha that good pieces of any kind (rugs, furniture, paintings, etc.) are shown to best advantage by the implementation of real principles. It is more than knowing what colors look nice together, and so forth. Even so, and assuming high standards for both the rugs themselves and the skill employed in using them decoratively, in the end, there is an inherent tension: Is your ultimate purpose to showcase good rugs, or is it to achieve a successful decorative arrangement for your house?

3. Is too much too much? Yes, and I'll post a shipping address shortly where you can all send your surpluses. But seriously, folks, I think too much is too much if you want to show your good rugs to best advantage. The reason is that the impact and dramatic statement of good rugs is diminished, in my opinion, by jamming and cramming. For example, I suggest as delicately as possible, squeezing a runner measuring 4' 4" into a hallway 4' 6' wide creates a sense of claustrophobia, and the appreciation of the rug suffers.

I have concluded from looking at a number of old time photographs that in, say, late Victorian times, there was a vogue for piling and overlapping many rugs on top of one another, the furniture, etc., without apparent regard for whether they "went well together." If I remember the famous photos of Sigmund Freud's consulting rooms, there were a number of good looking Shiraz area rugs packed in there. If one or more of them are great pieces, it seems they tend to get lost in the shuffle. Better in my opinion to rotate a few at a time than force a lot at a time. The former approach also allows for freshening up the rooms on a regular basis, not that a room arrayed with several world class Baluches at once could get stale.

4. Do my friends think I'm crazy? What has amazed me for the forty plus years I've been an afficionado is the extent to which the greater public is unmoved by my rugs. People who know I have the interest will make the perfunctory pleasant comment, often about the wrong rug (aside to Patrick: I have a mediocre Turkoman torba that sees duty in the bottom of a dog crate when we have the occasional visiting canine). If ever a rank civilian came into the house and commented cold on a good old rug that happened to be out, I don't remember it. I happen to have a pretty standard 9' x 12' Kashan, ca. 1950-60, with the central floral medallion and corners on a decent chrome-dyed red field. It's under the dining room table. I only acquired it years ago because my father admired it greatly. (His favorite color was red.) People ooh and aah over that regularly, mostly because it is an integral part of the extremely skillful decorative job Martha has done on the house, and it has that classy, refined Kashan look.

I don't have the slightest doubt that these woven items we crave are to die for, and I peruse the comments of fellow travellers on these threads on a daily basis; but I find it remarkable how much other people are completely unaware of the fact.

Interesting salon, Jerry, and kudos for inveigling these good folks into showing their wares in situ. I will try to post a few photos so people can say, "That guy had no idea what he was talking about."

Rich Larkin

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 08-27-2007 12:32 AM:



Rug collectors tend to have busy interior decorating schemes, as do collie collectors. Most collectors love living in and around the objects of their passion. Even Freud kept a lot of stuff he had collected in his office, but I do not know if he ever wrote anything about this compulsion to collect.
There is one drawback to this tendency, though. If you ever want to sell your place you better toss most of it.
"Staging" has become very popular lately and as many as 25% of homes on the market now have been staged, compared with only around 5% even as recently as 2001. When we sold our former home in 2002, our neighbor, a realtor, said it would take months. Our realtor brought in a Designer/Stager who had us remove absolutely everything, repainted the interior, had us replace the light fixtures, door pulls, vinyl flooring, covered the wood floors with new wall-to-wall, spruced up the yard and even made us replace all the toilet seats. Then he brought in his own furniture, art and even a coat rack with his own coats on it. The house sold on the first day and at a 7% premium over our asking price. In a down market.
A recent article in the Seattle Times described the staging process as one that can be as minimal as some furniture re-arranging or as complex as ours was. There is even an Accredited Staging Professional designation.
What does this have to do with the salon? There are a few basic rules of staging that could help us in our own decorating, the 4 "C"s.
Clean. This is obvious, although a lived in home certainly does not need to be kept neat as a pin all the time.
Clutter-free. This is where most of us have a problem. Home sellers say less is more and even when we get rid of excess stuff we should still get rid of half again. Even a lived-in home could use a bit of this discipline.
Color. Our interior walls were all entirely stark-white when we moved in. Almost institutional. We now have a soft orange and yellow plus an avocado green in the kitchen. As our Designer/Stager said "It makes it POP".
Creativity. To showcase the home's features and spaces. Here, most of us tend to be adventurous.
They suggest using "vignettes", or settings of 3 objects of different heights or colors. Here is where, for example, a small display of bag faces might be appropriate. I could tenuously suggest our living room wall with three Luri main carpets could be a "vignette".
There is also the "Titanic Principle" which says if there is more stuff on one side of a room your eye is drawn to that area as though the whole place tilts toward that part of the room and may sink.
We Turkotek correspondents are probably not all planning to sell our homes, but keeping these principles in mind can be useful. We do not need to remove personal photos, religious items or political things, which is recommended if we were selling the place. But there is one more saying that IS important even if we are not selling the place, "If you can smell it, we can't sell it". And there are a couple of us who seem to have an affinity for sticking our nose into these textiles.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by R. John Howe on 08-27-2007 09:11 AM:

Dear folks -

Pat Weiler's post immediately above is interesting.

I also know from personal experience that if we were to want to sell our condo, the real estate agent would definitely advise that we empty it of all of our collectibles.

The reason, one told me, is that, in order to maximize the chance that a unit will sell, things need to be arranged so that the buyer can envision living in it her or himself. This means, in turn, that it needs to be fairly neutral. If too much of the owners's personalities are projected by a house for sale, potential buyers apparently have more trouble envisioning themselves living there.

BUT, I think it's quite a different matter if one is "decorating" (I still find the word to deliberate for what we have done) in order to "live." Again, decorators will give advice and it will usually be for the relatively austere. But I think different standards apply when one goes about arranging things to reflect how one wants to live. Then, good advice can be listened to politely, even evaluated to see if there might be something worth acting on, but at bottom the "standards" (again a firmer word than I think we can use in our case) to be met are, I think, one's own.

It is, for me, very like choosing the pieces one collects. If you only follow the advice of experienced others (and I don't advise always to ignore it), the collection will be "theirs" rather than "yours." So with interior decorating.

On the other hand I don't go about recommending "cozy" to others.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Larkin on 08-27-2007 11:18 AM:


Hi Patrick, et al:

It's true, the "stagers," a pack of piitiless autocrats, have got hold of the property sale situation, and they aren't about to let go. I guess it has to happen, taking note of Patrick's experience on the sale end.

You may have noted my blaming my sweetheart, Martha, for having got me to forsake the true principles of rug display in the home (viz., squeeze in the very maximum possible into every square inch). She also has the Home/Garden channel running 24/7 on TV, and they have one or two programs on there in which one of these trained killers buzzes through the house making the most cutting remarks about the place while the homeowners watch on closed circuit TV (presumably from a safehouse somewhere). All in the names of "sell" and "reality TV" (emphasis on the latter). So far, I haven't seen anyone sentenced to tossing out all the early nineteenth century Turkoman rugs and trappings in favor of a trendy wall to wall (which the designer is apt to customize with some paint on a sponge, dabbed artfully here and there), but you can feel it coming.

This gets me to a comment I made above in answer to Jerry's four questions, which is that I have seldom had uninitiated visitors to the house ooh and aah about any rugs I've had on display. The cruel out there will say it is a commentary on my rugs, but assumimg there have been at least a few decent ones on display, and that they should speak for themselves, one might expect more. Incidentally, these days, the visitors are apt to be professional interior designers, friends and colleagues of Martha's. They are apt to make the obligatory generically favorable comment, but one can discern that it isn't focused on specific pieces. Have others had similar feedback over the years?

Posted by James Blanchard on 08-27-2007 05:52 PM:

Hi Patrick, John and Rich.


"STAGERS"??? Are people really that gullible (I mean the people that hire them, not the people who make real esate buying decisions based on their work)?

Part of what I like about buying old tribal rugs is that they somehow bring a connection to other exotic cultures. But I might have to rethink my strategy and start looking into this emerging, exotic and enigmatic culture that brings together real estate and interior decorating. Whatever happened to "location, location, location", interest rates and a good foundation? Maybe I have been away from N. America too long and this important cultural transition has passed me by...


Posted by Detlev_Fischer on 08-27-2007 06:18 PM:

My take at the four questions

First of all, thanks Jerry for the interesting Salon!

1. What are our attitudes toward placing rare rugs in locations where they will receive wear?

A terrible problem with limited space available. I envy the spacious homes visible on some of your photographs. While our flat is not that small, all rooms but mine are off-limits because of the dust mite allergy that grips all but me (even I suffer a bit). Regarding my room, shelves, windows and doors leave very little wall space. I only put those rugs at the wall that I photograph to sell (or document on my website).

Whenever I roll rugs up and pile them, I fear the moths will have a go at them, and I am not disciplined enough to unroll and hover as often as I should. So I plan to sell, but the plan is often delayed. So again I roll out some rugs somewhere in my room, overlapping others.

I have a Kurdish long rug I consider rare, with pile already low and several tread folds, and I was always sorry for it when it was on the floor. But there is nowhere else to place it. And I don't like cautioning others regarding my rugs. So for the time being it is again rolled up. One solution is really to sell surplus rugs, which I try, but not always successfully. I oscillate between the personas of a wannabe dealer and a poor collector anyway.

2. Do the colors and patterns of oriental rugs and textiles make it difficult to use them to decorate a room?

Not really, but sometimes. There is a problem in my partner's adjacent room (my room and hers have a connecting wide door which is usually open). In there, there is a 1950's? red Baluch with abrash (still, I believe, synthetic red) - which clashes horribly with a plain brown field Hamadan, not very old, but very rare. I had bought the latter as a gift when my partner opened her own practice but she thought it was too sombre for her patients, so it ended up near the red Baluch. If ever two rugs were not meant to be in one room, it is these two. (Just to explain, the Baluch was one of the first rugs I bought, and I confess I marvelled at its subtlety at the time - the dealer had insisted its sparse orange was dyed using Saffron, of all substances). Now my partner really likes this rug so much that I have to live with it. To be sure, it has the thick agreeable pile of latter-day Persian Baluch rugs. I have tried to explain, but to no avail. (Usually our tastes harmonise, however.) Most visitors also like it best, and often cannot relate to the much nicer rugs in my room, which always gives me an opportunity to put down the Baluch brutally.

3. Is too much ever too much?

There is just so little space. The other rooms are off-limits because of the dust mite scare (and the kids prefer Scandinavian-type Ikea rag rugs anyway. I cannot bring them to like my rugs, yet). If I was organised enough to seal rugs for storage and be radical regarding the moth problem, I would not mind building piles, never too much. But this is a cashflow problem. I liked clutter and overlap at a time, (, but no more.

4. Do your friends and neighbors think that youíre nuts? (Öwith regard to your use of rugs Ė not for other possible reasons)

No one in my age group and in my group of friends and acquaintances even remotely sympathises with my interest in rugs. (Hang on, there is one exception, a work colleague from Australia who has now moved on.) They usually poke fun, which is Ok. Some are bewildered, especially regarding the dealer aspiration. My 95 year old arnt recently called me a 'richtiger Teppichjud' which I took as a compliment even though I don't like to contemplate the murky background of the remark. Most probably think the habit a bit weird, and I do what I can to encourage them in that perception. In any case I find some healthy weirdness a good sorting engine for acquaintances.

Posted by R. John Howe on 08-27-2007 09:14 PM:

James -

You wrote in part:


""STAGERS"??? Are people really that gullible (I mean the people that hire them, not the people who make real esate buying decisions based on their work)?"


There's an old joke about a plane losing altitude and they've thrown everything but the people out the door, but it's not working. So they decide that they have to begin to throw out people as well, and the rule to be followed is that folks will be thrown out in inverse order on the basis of their demonstrable contributions to society....So, of course, right away a fight breaks out between a used car salesman and a disk jockey.

It is tempting to put real estate folks in this same bottom category and some of them truly deserve it, but the truth is that real estate agents (I am very reluctant to say this out loud) sometimes perform important functions when one is trying to sell (or buy) a house. The "staging" can sometimes actually be important, a point about which Patrick testifies. Nowadays, the ability of an agent to find finance for the buyer is critical, especially in the current market. So while it's not a rug point, it is likely true that it may sometimes be advantageous to follow the advice of such stagers.

Tastes can be pretty local and these folks usually know what sells. But the point about neutral appearance and the psychology behind it is likely general. So "staging" offends me too, but, sometimes, it's not a species of gullibility, it's an efficacious way to sell the damn place.

Mr. Fischer -

I quite like your answers to the four question and the slightly submerged link to Christopher Alexander, provided appropriately, with some caution.

He's an enormously successful architect and once built a wonderful collection of Turkish village rugs and then wrote about them, but you do realize that no one has been able to date to decipher what he says.

We tried once here on Turkotek and had the assistance of an advocate-interpreter.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Larkin on 08-27-2007 10:05 PM:

Hi John:

In my other life, I'm a real estate lawyer, and I can attest to the valuable service many real estate agents provide; although it is a calling where the potential to be parasitic is great. All the more credit to the good ones.

As far as staging is concerned, you do what you have to do. You can't argue with results, for example, Patrick's.

The cryptic references to Christopher Alexander are intriguing. Can you provide further illumination?

Question: Were there any lawyers on that plane? Answer: No, they went out in phase one. [That's another old joke.]

Rich Larkin

Posted by Steve Price on 08-28-2007 05:35 AM:

Hi Rich

Don't get me started on lawyer jokes.

I don't see anything remarkable about the fact that staging works. It's just sound marketing. The downside is that the inconvenience it imposes on the sellers won't be acceptable to everyone. Those people won't use it.


Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 08-28-2007 07:23 AM:

Rich -

Christopher Alexander, is, as I said, a very successful, perhaps even famous, architect who once built a fine collection of Turkish village rugs and then wrote about it and rug aesthetics, generally.

He seems to be a "formalist," that is, he believes that we are all "hard-wired" for aesthetic evaluation and that (properly interrogated) most folks would choose the same rugs as aesthetically superior.

The difficulty is that the language in his book is dense in the extreme. A few years ago, Jerry Silverman tried reading his copy and suggested that we needed a "translator." Oddly enough we rather quickly found someone who had undertaken this precise task and engaged him to assist in a salon in which we mounted a small test of Alexander's aesthetic theory.

Our sample size was too small to indicate anything really at the end, but you can still find the salon in our archives.

(I notice that my summary at the end has been lost and that is a considerable one, since I provided a table comparing individual evaluations and commented on whether the general Alexander thesis seemed to be sustained. If we could ever find this summary it should be restored.)

Hope that helps.


R. John Howe

Posted by Steve Price on 08-28-2007 08:01 AM:

Hi John

That Salon and accompanying discussion dates to our first web host, who will go unnamed here. They lost all sorts of things in server crashes and refused to restore from backups without a $200 fee that they said they would refund if, in their opinion, the data loss was their fault. When we migrated the site to Downtownhost (our excellent current web host) they refused to allow us to access the site by FTP, and it took more time and effort than I like to remember to get the migration done. There are lots of blanks in the first 20 or 30 Salons, and not much we can do about it.

Steve Price

Posted by Jerry Silverman on 08-28-2007 07:57 PM:


In a previous life (ca. 1974 - 1980) when I was providing marketing counsel to residential real estate developers, it was common practice to trick out the "model" units to appeal to a specifically defined demographic group. The practitioners would make their presentation just like any interior designers - with room layouts, furniture placements, pictures of proposed furnishings, upholstery, carpets, wall treatments, window treatments - the whole nine yards. Then the developer would give his approval, and I would plan a Grand Opening with its attendant advertising and press releases.

The best of these folks even paid attention to the least little things. For example, a home office would have a typewriter (yes, this was in the era of typewriters) with a sheet of paper in it. If the unit was being marketed to "empty nesters", the letter might be a half-written note to a son or daughter in college. Or if it was a "starter home", the letter might be an application for a kid to join a Little League team. And, yes, everyone - and I mean everyone - stopped and looked at those letters. When we surveyed the shoppers a week later, most of them couldn't remember how many bathrooms the unit had, but they remembered exactly what the letter said.

Shoppers may visit a great many homes over a period of months, so anything you can do to make your place memorable (in a good way) is worth considering doing. Staging is just the current and particularly anal way of accomplishing that.



Posted by James Blanchard on 08-29-2007 08:27 AM:

Hi all,

Okay, I take it all back about the "stagers". It sounds like a sound business principle for those who are selling....

But, really folks. People actually wrote INCOMPLETE, FAKE letters to IMAGINARY children, and people buying a house read them and remembered them and presumably decided whether to buy a house based partly on them???

A couple of years ago we bought a house in Canada (to get in a bit early on the hot real estate market). We knew the area we wanted to live, and had a couple of other criteria (bungalow preferred, big yard, fire place would be nice). In a whirlwind before heading back to India we saw a house that met our basic criteria (great location that was likely to keep its value, bungalow, huge yard, etc.) and bought it that day. It was its first day on the market and we had at least 3 competing buyers who bid on it. The house had been owned by an elderly couple. It had powder blue puffy wall-to-wall carpeting everywhere except the bedrooms, which had beige and lime green carpeting. The walls were a lighter shade of powder blue, except in the master bedroom which had perhaps the most garish wallpaper imaginable. I could go on and on, but suffice to say that we bought the house because of its basics, realizing that we had lots of redecorating to do to make the house "our own", and looked forward to that project. Are we so strange? I think I need to re-acquaint with this alien culture. Maybe a year of watching soap operas and Oprah will help....


Posted by Richard Larkin on 08-29-2007 10:55 AM:

Hi Jerry,

Wow. I would say it's chilling, but Vance Packard told us quite a while back about hidden persuaders. As I recall, the ice cubes in a glass of whiskey, when perused with sufficient attention, had some remarkably suggestive characteristics. Apparently, these circumstances added up to a significant increase in whiskey sales. So why should anybody be surprised that a half finished application for young Billy to join the little league team would sell a house.

Soooo, what I want to know, which the readers of TurkoTek seem to be withholding from me, is, how come when I put a very decent, one might say striking (but not Straka!) Marasali prayer rug down on a highly polished wood floor, nobody says a bleeping word, and most of them are professional decorators??? I guess I just don't get it.

Posted by James Blanchard on 08-29-2007 11:24 AM:

Hi Rich,

I think I am seeing a convergence here... The reason that people don't seem to pay attention to our favourite rugs is that they don't know the story behind them, and as we can see from Jerry's experience, a story means a lot to folks these days, even if they know it isn't true. So now we can see why rug dealers come up with such gripping stories to help sell their rugs ("this different colour design means that the weaver was just blessed with a new son, etc."). I would propose that if any of us want to impress Western visitors with our carpets, we need to place small gripping stories beside each one (sort of like a museum). Otherwise, to the uninitiated they just look like worn out, poorly manufactured rugs with improbable colour combinations that don't "go" with the other decor.


Posted by Steve Price on 08-29-2007 11:32 AM:

Hi James

You've discovered what every succesful rug dealer knows. You can't sell a rug unless a story comes with it. Preferably, the story will be something that makes the rug seem very foreign and exotic (it had magic powers because of some design element, it was part of a bride's dowry, was used during some significant ceremony, etc.). The dealers do this because their clients insist on it.


Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 08-29-2007 11:53 AM:

Rich, James -

I think Steve is partly right, "stories" are often needed, but I think it also goes further. Most folks are "incompletely socialized" into the world and standards of rug collecting (and some of them, my wife specifically included, are self-consciously glad about that).

As such, how could they be expected to behave otherwise? Christopher Alexander is obviously wrong: we are not "hard-wired" for aesthetic judgments.

I think I said before, but I recently walked through the flea market with some friends. The wife was INTERESTED in the rugs. She's a very bright lady, PHI BETA KAPPA (although she would deny it), a published author, and high level Treasury Department at the moment. There was nothing great there, but there were some modestly "collectible" pieces. She ignored them and went like a homing pigeon to the brand new light-colored decorator rugs.

She's decorating and she likes neutral. What are we to say? She should like "collectible" pieces for her decorating? Her life would be more complete if she understood the things that collectors value?

The uninitiated are going to continue to be unembarrassed about being so. They're living what "rug lives" that interest them in utterly different terms.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Larkin on 08-29-2007 12:47 PM:

Auld lang syne


Perhaps I'm peddling this "way back when" stuff too much. I hope it isn't irritating anybody, but I have two additional anecdotal comments.

1. I used to give a class in rugs at the evening adult ed program at the local high school. It was reasonably well patronized when I gave it, and in that venue, they hung on every word; and they took my comments as gospel about what were the good rugs. (They weren't all Baluch.)

2. Once, I gave a luncheon talk on rugs to a ladies club in a dignified town that had received quite a write-up over its doings during the American revolution. It was held at a very impressive period home that had been owned by a man of world fame in letters, and the family living in it at the time of the talk bore the same surname as the famous guy. No names mentioned, but needless to say, I couldn't wait to get into that place.

I wasn't disappointed. It was a spacious, well lit house on a sunny day, and full of eyepopping 19th century/early twentieth century rugs, one room after another. Our hostess took everybody around, and for the most part, the talk was about her rugs, as they eclipsed what I had brought. I was at the door, about to leave with the usual pleasantries, but the hostess seemed to have something on her mind. I inquired. She didn't really want to trouble me, but there was a special rug...Would I mind just running upstairs...? Being the peach of a guy I was, I didn't mind.

We all traipsed all the way upstairs to an octagonal little structure at the top of the house, the sort that the wife would have used to look out to see if her husband's ship was coming in, except that the ocean was about 25 miles away. In it was the most god-awful, atrocious small Baluch (yes, it is possible!) that had been woven with bad red dyes and bleached or treated, and was at that point worn to an absolute frazzle. There was more foundation visible than pile. The lady thought it was rare and special. It was unlike any other rug in the house.

Go figure.

Posted by Jerry Silverman on 08-29-2007 12:51 PM:

I'm not surprised

So you're all saying that most people (your friends, neighbors, the entire subset of non-rug cognoscenti) don't appreciate the rugs in your home, right?

And you're surprised about that?

Not everyone possesses specialized knowledge about all things. Not even one as brilliant as I.

Let me tell you a story.

In the autumn of 1977 I was freshly divorced and living in an apartment in Chicago. As fate would have it, I met a woman who was everything my ex-wife wasn't almost immediately - right in my apartment building...hell, right in the laundry room. (Turns out we had the same number of sets of underwear and found ourselves doing our laundry at the same, unpredictable hours.)

When I went to her apartment I saw that it was filled with old wood furniture. Now that was something I knew about: my dad had a furniture store, and I knew old crap when I saw it. I had thrown plenty of it away when we moved newly purchased furniture into a home. As far as I could tell, her's was just like it.

Well, it wasn't. It was 18th and early 19th century red-painted pine American country antiques. She and her first husband had furnished their home with it because at the time - mid-1960s - it was cheaper than new furniture. That it had become highly collectible in the intervening years was a bonus.

In summary, I didn't recognize it when I saw it. I had no idea of its value. I didn't appreciate it.

Sound familiar?


P.S. To see some of it check out the pictures of Jean's office and our dining room in the Salon.