The Beauty & Sustainability of Antique Rugs – An Interview with Frances Loom
Today we talk to Heather of Frances Loom on all things antique and textile. Frances Loom, founded in 2014 are an ethical lifestyle brand that supply beautifully crafted homeware with an emphasis on rugs. Combining antique, their own designs and contemporary classics from brands, Frances Loom offer a way to decorate the home that is timeless, sustainable and with an artisanal touch, respecting the people and processes behind all their pieces.
“In a throwaway culture, anytime we buy for the long haul is a victory for the environment.”
– Heather of Frances Loom
First of all Heather can you please give us a bit of a background in the world of interiors?
I have always had an interest in interiors. When i was 12 or 13 my parents indulgently let me splatter paint my bedroom black, white and grey. It was horrendous, but it was the end of the 80’s and I blame all of the hairspray fumes. My first real project was my first home purchase, which I gutted and I still love. I’ve put my stamp on every place I’ve been in since, whether rented or owned.
What drew you into the world of Frances Loom and its antique rugs?
I started using antique rugs in my homes many years ago, when they were much harder to source. When Kelly (who started FL) moved in with me, my London flat was filled with a mix of antique and new rugs – straight away we knew we were kindred spirits. I was in tech full time during this period, but when I left, we decided to partner up and the rest is history.
And how have vintage pieces played a role in your design ethos in the past?
My style shifts all over the place, depending on my current inspiration, the place I’m living in and what I have access to. But the constant is a layered look. I prefer to mix styles, eras and textures for a very collected look. Antiques are the best way to give your space a personal and interesting vibe – no one else has that same rug/sculpture/piece of art. I steer away from a showroom/shiny and new feel and think that antiques from markets or shops are a great way to achieve that.
Can you tell us a bit about the sourcing process? It feels like it’s still quite an intimate experience!
I am not an early bird. Any day that starts with an alarm clock is automatically painful, buuuuuut, flea markets, antiques fairs, even yard sales are best early hours. So on market days, lots of coffee it is. We also have trusted sources that know just what we like, so that’s fun too. Sourcing is my version of treasure hunting; the idea of finding amazing pieces is so exciting. I fall in love with most rugs I buy and consider keeping them all. haha!
In your opinion, what are some of the ethical benefits of choosing a vintage piece over something new?
In a throwaway culture, anytime we buy for the long haul is a victory for the environment. It’s an investment, for sure, but they’re so versatile, I feel they can compliment a lot of different styles and feels, which means it can stay with you as you evolve. I’ve had some rugs for 4 or 5 houses, and I’m the queen of starting with a blank slate. These rugs have also already existed for 100 years, which is a testament to the quality of the materials and the construction, the opposite of fast fashion (for home), but you don’t have to wait the 8-12 weeks to have it. Best of all worlds really.
And what about the design benefits of working in antiques?
Antiques are one a kind – special. It’s the antidote for the sameness that we all see. Trends go viral and all of a sudden everyone has what you have. Unless, of course, you use antiques. They also just add a feel that you can’t get with new items. Some things in your home need to be comfy and durable (sofas and mattresses), but with most other pieces, you can choose antique or vintage of lots of styles and get something that no one else will have.
We know you are working in a few new products into the Frances Loom curation – can you tell us about these?
We have added some items that we feel compliment the antiques we carry. We made some layering rugs (in the most sustainable, handmade way) that can make odd sized antique rugs work in any space. They can also add stability to very fine and thin rug styles. We have also added new pillows and throws, some graphic prints and some pieces made from beautiful rug fragments that we come across. Layering is my favorite trick for a cozy vibe.
How should we think about taking care of our antique rugs to make them last?
Antique rugs are wonderfully durable. They are made from wool most of the time with some cotton on occasions. Wool is naturally stain resistant, so spot treating with folex is our best recommendation. But if a major spill happens, we recommend taking the rug to a local professional for a shampoo.
“Antiques are the best way to give your space a personal and interesting vibe – no one else has that same rug/sculpture/piece of art. I steer away from a showroom/shiny and new feel and think that antiques from markets or shops are a great way to achieve that.”
And what about the benefit of your new, all recycled rug pads?
We had so many questions about rug pads and we used to make recommendations on pads I had tried and liked. But in order to really provide the convenience to our customers, we decided to carry them ourselves. This way they can come with your rug and no extra waiting. As with all things, sustainability is a core value for us and the all recycled is a great way to buy new.
Finally, what does a sustainable home look like to you?
I think that you can buy with longevity in mind at all price brackets. We used to buy from craftsman and pass things down through generations. That’s a bit rare these days – but you can find those quality items at markets and fairs. Buying recycled, natural and ethically sourced materials, and of course, pre-loved are all great ways to practice sustainability and do what we can individually for the environment.
Words by Heather of @francesloom