What is a Vintage Rug? Overdyed Vintage Rug? Distressed Rug?

In recent years, a new trend emerged in the rug industry that has seen older rugs being given a make-over to complement the modern home. While the patterns and colors of traditional area rugs remain an exquisite insight into regional craftsmanship of Anatolia and Asia, many find that their time-honored styles do not fit into the interior designs of contemporary living. This is why "distressed" vintage rugs or overdyed vintage rugs have become so popular – not only do they give a new lease of life to an aged carpet, but they add a vibrant splash of color into our lives, while still exuding the timeless class of an original handcrafted piece of art.

overdyed rugs collection


Why choose a vintage rug?

Because they are beautiful, fashionable, sustainable, hand made and affordable!
Vintage rugs are also known as distressed vintage rugs, and represent a trend that has achieved a crossover between fashion and home décor. People don’t just want their jeans to look ‘lived in,’ but they want their rugs to look ‘lived on’. This new look celebrates textiles that are faded, worn, and softened over time; rugs that nestle into homes as if they’ve always been there.

Although the method has grown popular around the world, this inspired device was first developed in Turkey, and it is from here that you find the best vintage rugs and overdyed works, created using authentic hand knotted vintage and antique rugs. Perhaps it is because re-using and re-purposing is nothing new in Turkey, where household items are fixed up rather than thrown out, and over-dyeing is a continuation of this.

overdyed rugs in room

How are distressed vintage rugs made?

The process starts with collecting hand-knotted vintage Turkish rugs and Oriental carpets in great condition. The first stage is shearing to even out the pile and to help ‘distress’ the rug without damaging it. We then carefully wash and dry them to remove any stains or odors. Depending on the desired look, some rugs are further laid under the sun to gradually achieve more mellow colors without a chemical process.

What are the benefits of an overdyed vintage rug?

With a vintage or an overdyed vintage rug, you are not only purchasing an on-trend item, but you’re also contributing to a sustainable practice. Over-dyeing is usually carried out on rugs that are faded, worn or just unloved. This recycling helps to preserve these traditional items for future generations, acknowledging the skill and care taken to create them in the first place. Not only that, but it is possible to pick up a quality handcrafted overdyed rug for a fraction of the price of other antique or vintage carpets and kilims – making it a much more affordable option.

overdyed patchwork rug

How are overdyed rugs made?

The over-dyeing process is carried out on rugs that are either vintage (which in rug terms means produced between the 1920s and 1970s) or antique (anything before then). Depending on the desired look, the aging process may be accelerated using a number of methods. Some rugs are first sheared, to even out the pile and to help to ‘distress’ them. They then undergo a series of processes to neutralize and remove the color. These include a mixture of chemical washes and natural sun bleaching. These processes don’t remove the pattern, but simply reduce it to an outline, creating a foundation ready to be re-imagined. The carpets are then dyed in one color, a stage that can be repeated several times to reach the desired saturation level and hue – and for a more distressed look, a paler color is the aim. The dye can also be targeted at the lighter background shades, to create a multi-tonal rug, or result in a block color throughout. The rugs are then laundered to set the color (which will last for many, many years), before being dried. Most overdyed rugs will display a number of different shades, which brings a certain vitality back to the rug, and is a result of the uneven surfaces, and original pattern.
Over-dyed turkish vintage rug


What about patchwork rugs?

Patchwork overdyed rugs are made from a number of different rug fragments that have been cut into smaller shapes and hand-sewn together using a sturdy yarn. All our patchwork rugs are then backed with cotton cloth, which acts as reinforcement. They may be made from bold contrasting colors, or from variant shades of the same tone. Each fragment has a different history, and a different story to tell, and one rug may showcase a whole variety of different patterns and weaving techniques, belying its complex history and making every patchwork rug truly unique.
See our collection of overdyed patchwork rugs here. If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, we can also produce custom over-dyed patchwork rugs in any size and color combination. Or we can combine or resize any of our existing kilim patchwork rugs to suit your needs.

overdyed patchwork rugs collection


What is the best way to design with vintage or overdyed rugs?

overdyed rugs in room

Get The ‘Lived On’ Look! Consider each overdyed rug as a unique work of contemporary art, which can truly enhance any type of interior design. If used in a minimalist environment with neutral colors, they act as an explosion of color, a centerpiece that at once stands and brings together its surroundings. However, they can also be used in a colorful room, by carefully choosing a rug in a color that sets off the tones of the décor and furnishings. In this context, it can be part of a design that envelops you in a warming feeling, touched with a hint of the Orient. However you choose to use your overdyed rug, you can be sure that it will become a beloved part of your home for many years to come.

For more ideas, please check our article on designing with hand-woven rugs.


If you’d like to know more about the over-dyeing process or see more detailed photos of a specific rug in stock, please feel free to get in touch by emailing: sales1@kilim.com. Otherwise, visit the Overdyed Rugs section of our website, where you can browse by color, size, and price. We can also send you patchwork samples. Please contact us for more information.

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