Threads of History - 405 Magazine

Threads of History

Heirloom rugs share stories across generations.

Photo by Brandon Smith

Heirloom rugs share stories across generations. 

Most people know the saying “If walls could talk” in reference to historic homes. However, Blake Colburn suggests that more stories can be found underfoot. The vintage and antique rug dealer believes each handmade rug is “unique and has a story to tell.” From his perspective, these “curated essentials and found pieces” bring their remarkable histories into our homes, while also providing a foundation to carry our own personal narratives forward.

Colburn certainly has a distinctive story threaded into his own Blake Colburn Rugs. As a biochemistry major at Oklahoma State University with future plans for dental school, Colburn began helping his friends find the perfect rugs to style their apartments. After word got out that he could find great deals on beautiful, one-of-a-kind rugs, his stylistic endeavors were in high demand.  He even sold a few rugs right out from under his own feet!  

“I quickly learned that there was a huge market for rugs, so I began to keep a small inventory of rugs on hand,” Colburn said. After graduation, he decided dental school could wait: “I gave myself a year after graduation to focus on my creative aspirations as a freelance stylist and photographer with Surya.”  

Photo by Brandon Smith

This made all the difference. Colburn soon made a name for himself in the world of heirloom rugs, and today he works with clients to purchase one-of-a-kind pieces through Blake Colburn Rugs, his booming business found on Etsy (BlakeColbHome), Instagram (@blakecolb) and Facebook Marketplace (Blake Colburn).

Since 2017, Colburn has sold vintage (30 to 80 years old) and antique (80-plus years old) rugs. As is true with vintage wine, the older the rug, the more it is sought after and the more it costs. These family treasures are exclusive representations of the various regions of Turkey and what was once Persia, which include Malayer, Mahal, Heriz, Oushak, Tabriz and Turkish area rugs. 

“I have always had a passion for antique rugs, because they bring character into any room and last a lifetime,” he said. 

For heirloom rug care, Colburn recommends Tabriz Oriental Rugs of Oklahoma City. According to third-generation rug dealer and cleaner Saeid Ahrabizad and his wife, Kelly, who have owned Tabriz Oriental Rugs for 40 years in the same location, heirloom rugs should be professionally cleaned every 3 to 5 years, depending on use.  

“Each rug is different,” said Saeid Ahrabizad, “so it’s important that we know the region the rug originates from as well as how it was made in order to choose the best cleaning treatment that preserves the wool’s color from bleeding. We use a beater bar to remove all the built-up dust and dirt from the knots before the rugs are hand-washed.” 

A rug pad is also highly recommended to protect the rugs. The Ahrabizads pride themselves on their ability to clean and repair vintage and antique Turkish and Persian rugs, thus preserving the heirloom rugs for future generations.

With such longevity, heirloom rugs may anchor a lifetime in one home, and then perhaps be moved into another lifetime many miles away. Oh, if only rugs could talk; what splendid stories they could share. 

Photo by Brandon Smith