The Great Antique Rug Adventure in New Orleans

Heirloom Stories, Vol. 10

Most heirlooms have a story, and we want to know more of them. This Heirloom Stories interview series explores why people collect antiques and how special collectibles find new life generations after their creation.

jess from renovation rowhouse

Featured

Name: Jess
IG: @renovation_rowhouse

What was the first antique you ever bought?

The first antique I ever bought is probably the antique I’ve centered my entire design style around. It is a hot pink Persian rug I bought in New Orleans. At the time, I lived in a 3 bedroom apartment in NYC and only really had the appetite to decorate my own bedroom with nice(ish) things knowing the rest of the space would be shared. Although it should be said, all of my roommates throughout the years were wonderful human beings and would never trash anything intentionally! 

antique persian rug
Credit: @renovation_rowhouse

That spring many years ago, I took a trip to New Orleans with my parents, and it was immediate to me that I had found a “soul city.” I loved the colors, the music (oh, the music!), the dancing in the streets, and the wonderful people who lived there and called it home.

The Story

On our last day there, I lovingly forced my parents to go on an antique store hunt with me to find a rug to take home. As we rummaged and searched every corner of each antique store, I began to notice the same woman arriving at each location either just before or just after. She also seemed to be on the hunt for a rug. To me, at that moment, the chase was on. I could tell by how quirky she dressed that this woman and I must have the same style. I had to find my rug before she pulled it out from under me (get it?).

Around the third antique store, my dad, who also loves a challenge and finding the perfect rug fit the bill, spotted a “colorful” rug (the only real qualification I had given him in the search) and waved me over to see. Immediately I knew it was the one, but it didn’t have a price tag. Nervously I went to the man at the register, where then I saw that stylish and quirky rug seeker speaking to the store owner.

As I waited, I overheard them chatting and learned that my (imagined) arch-nemesis was actually a set decorator for a TV show being filmed in the area! A job I didn’t even know existed, but after hearing her talk about it, I’m pretty sure it’s the coolest job around. Oh, and she was looking for a very worn-out rug in muted colors, so no fear.

Anywho! It turned out the hot pink, eclectic granny-style, Persian rug of my dreams was also a steal! So I happily paid, and then upon returning to our Airbnb, I realized there was no way both my clothes and the rug would fit in my carry-on. So, I bid adieu to my vacation clothes, and my dad and I proceeded to shove/cram that rug into my bag so that I would be able to carry it on the plane back to NYC. 

Little did I know that the trip to New Orleans and the great rug search would actually be the last time I got to see my dad. A month later, he passed away suddenly, and that memory of our rug adventure would be one I’ll cherish forever. 

Many years have passed since that trip to New Orleans, but that rug has seen me through many things, including marriage. On June 29th, 2019, my husband (and fellow Renovation Rowhouser) Peter and I got married while standing on that very rug. My dad’s memory lives on in many ways, and having that rug is a reminder of his spirit along every other journey we have as a family from here on out. 

Credit: @renovation_rowhouse
Credit: @renovation_rowhouse

*Responses may be edited for length and clarity.

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