Three ways to shop for vintage rugs on a budget

I've been on the hunt for months for large and small vintage wool rugs, on a budget. I've seen some gorgeous ones on eBay and some small rug shops but haven't been able to pull the trigger. We now have four gorgeous antique Turkish (I think) wool rugs--my hunt is not over, since I would like them in more rooms!--and I've had some success with some serious budget shopping.




How I shop for vintage rugs on a budget


1. Craigslist


My main method of vintage rug shopping has been constant Craigslist hunting. I've kept tabs open in my phone browser with the keywords and settings I wanted for months, which means if I refresh every day, I might be first in line for a great find and price. That's how I got this rug in our family room, for $175. It's about 6'x11', I think, and I bought it from a woman whose parents had brought it back from their travels many years ago. It is seriously one of the coolest things we own.

I've looked seriously at a couple of other antique rugs on Craigslist, but often the color isn't quite what I want, or there's damage I'm not confident I can fix.

2. Estate sale bid box


I've also seen some fabulous antique rugs at estate sales. The way they often work, there's a bid box for the larger items so you can place a bid for a rug, big piece of furniture, etc. even below the ticket price, and if you're the highest bid you come back at the end of the sale to buy it. TWICE I've won bids for beautiful red wool 8'x10' rugs for $100. Seriously. Ticket price was $200+ but I guess no one else bid on them! One of them had this lovely medallion pattern and wasn't a handmade Turkish one but clearly high quality and taken care of.

Why don't I have pictures of those, you wonder?? BOTH times I was both too chicken to pull the trigger (I usually get a little anxious around big purchases, and it was hard to make the decision so quickly when I got the call at 3pm on a Sunday to head back to the sale right then) and I wasn't able to make it back in time or coordinate pickup later in the week. So, despite the rules of the bid box (bids are binding), I didn't buy either of them. The way I do estate sales with my friends, we go to 5-6 sales in a morning and drive all over the western metro area, usually, and I usually have the rest of my weekend pretty busy so it's hard to go back.

3. Estate sale persistence


I hit the jackpot last weekend at estate sales and found FOUR Turkish (I think) wool rugs at one estate sale not too far from my house. We went on a Saturday morning, so everything was full price, and in the moment I couldn't make a decision.

That evening I had thought it through and still wanted them. I found the ad for the estate sale on Craigslist and emailed the company hosting it. They still had all of the rugs!

I drove over there close to first thing Sunday morning. Most sales do 50% off everything that's left on the last day. The big rug in the dining room had sold (that's okay, the colors were a little too pink/blue-ish red for me) but the three smaller ones were available! I got all three of these (two 2'x3's and a 4'x6'ish) for $50. So great because I'm not worried about getting them dirty or adding wear.

I've already found places for all of them.

The largest one: the entry. (Still need to do baseboards and caulk on the stairs but now that we have flooring on them, it feels like I can show this space off!)

This bright, small one: the kitchen! It is so nice to have something comfy under foot at the sink. And, again, I'm not worried about getting it too dirty since it was already used and was so affordable.

This bright small one, for now, by the back door.


And, instead of three small, custom-sized rug pads, I bought this thick shelf liner and cut it into three pieces, one for each rug.

So the whole thing was very budget-friendly.

Those are three tips for shopping for vintage rugs on a budget!

Of course, if you don't have great Craigslist and estate sales near you, you can also find some modern replicas that I've found are attractive and also very affordable. Some faves like these ones linked below!


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