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New Turkish kilim rug pukes glorious color all over my foyer!

I did it. I bit the bullet and ordered up an antique Rug of Many Colors all the way from Turkey.
Foyer with colorful Turkish Kilim rug
There’s still a long way to go before I have the fun, colorful foyer we talked about, but it already feels like the happy, playful sister to my serious, safe foyer of yore.

As soon as you walk in our front door, it’s all: “WHATUP! COLOR IS HAPPENING! CHECK IT.” *Mic drop*
Entryway with colorful Turkish kilim rug
But it’s an antique from the early 1900s, so it shouts in a frail, elderly voice.

I ordered it from this ebay seller, who has endless amounts of antique, colorful rugs handwoven on the other side of the world. (Read my ebay ninja tips here.) I wanted to bring them all home, give them a place to breathe and thrive, pet them gently and whisper to them how much I love them.
Turkish Kilim Rug

Anatolian Turkish Classic Antalya Kilim

Antique Anatolia Turkish Kilim
Antique Anatolia Turkish Kilim

But I can only save one starfish at a time.

I found this guy and fell in love with him. He arrived in a package like this, which I ignored for a while because I was afraid I’d hate him in person. Much better to live in happy anticipation and think of how good he COULD be than open him and be disappointed. (There’s probably room for some psychoanalysis there.)
Opening rug package
Weston was VERY interested in helping open this mystery package, but then when we did, we got a whiff of something musty and stinky. This conversation happened:

Andy: Gross. Why does it smell like that?
Me: I don’t know. Maybe that’s what Turkey smells like.
Weston: Mom, why does our rug smell like turkeys?

I took the rug and its turkey smell outside and let it air out for a day, then I took it back inside and Andy and I tried our groundbreaking all-natural carpet cleaner method while Mila Jane helpfully supervised.
How to clean an antique kilim rug
Anyone else get oddly excited to see dirty things get clean? The carpet cleaner kept collecting buckets of thick, dark brown water – one after another – which left me both grossed out and amazed.
How to wash an antique kilim rug
You’re welcome for THAT photo.

We ended up getting about three buckets of brown water before it started to clean out a bit. Then we left it to dry and found that once the vinegar smell went away, the rug still vaguely smelled of turkey. Turkey. turkeys. One last attempt!

We spread a pretty thick layer of baking soda all over the rug and let it sit overnight, then vacuumed it up.
Washing an antique kilim rug
Muuuuuuch better. The baking soda absorbed all the turkeys and the rug is fresh now.

I love it.

Andy thinks the rug is “too itchy” but his Princess Foot Syndrome has been well documented and established, so don’t trust anything he says on the matter. I think it feels like a glorious foot massage and will make dirt tracked in from outside virtually disappear, which is right in line with my typical house-cleaning strategies.

When I was considering whether to go for it on a wild, fun rug, I contacted my ever-stylish friend Kimberly at Swoonworthy and asked her if I was crazy to consider it. She pointed out that, yes, I am probably crazy, but that’s another issue. And all it would take to make the rug feel at home is to incorporate the colors elsewhere in my house. You know how sometimes it’s so hard to see your house with fresh eyes? That. It is GOOOD to have friends much more stylish than I am!

You can see the view from the foyer looking into the dining room…
Decorating with a colorful kilim rug
The dining room has a smidge of red already, but I’m now on a mission to carry the rug’s colors through neighboring rooms and basically stop an inch short of a crazy fun-house. I have some other plans for the foyer that’ll make it all (hopefully) a bit more cohesive over time.

Or it’ll just feel like a color-splosion and there’ll be nothing any of us can do about it.

What do you think? Cool or headed toward crazy fun-house? BTW, if you hate kilim rugs, you should take yourself right over to this post and enter the debate. You can still go to that post if you like them, though.

Let's connect


  1. Such a beautiful rug. I love all the colors it brings to your foyer. I am also always thinking of whether a rug will disguise dirt or not.

    Also I can’t believe how much turkey you could wring out of the carpet. I am amazed. I know exactly the smell you are describing too. Good riddance. 🙂

    Love it!!

  2. Interesting! I wonder what the smell was!! Well, I’m all for color and mixing it up so I am on board! xo Kristin

  3. It’s official, I must have many many kilim rugs, all over my house. Not thrilled about the potential for gallons of brown water and turkey smell though. But I think it’s worth it!

    • Totally worth it. Who cares if your whole house smells of turkeys as long as it LOOKS good? Just don’t let anyone inside – send them photos instead. 🙂

      • sibel balkan says:

        If you have a problem with Turkish people do not buy our rugs, you guys are racist.Most rugs are not washed if they are antique ,therefore they need special cleaning not to loose their value! Turks are the most clean people!

        • Oh my goodness. We were talking about turkeys, lowercase – the *animals.* No one even calls Turkish people “turkeys.” My little boy misunderstood and that’s why it was funny. Just relax.

  4. I love it! It really brightens up the space. Though now that wall in the dining room is begging for some bigger, more colorful art.

  5. i am in love. the end.

  6. I love all the bright fun colors & pattern in the rug! Cannot believe you got that much gunk out of it!?! Good thing you have that steam vac! Perfect timing on that one! 😉

  7. I’m too stuck on Prince Tender Feets professional rug cleaning pose to consider the rug itself.

  8. I’m totally that person that lets packages sit in the entryway because I’m too afraid of the possible disappointment. We can go to therapy together. I really hope there are kilim rugs at our therapy site because I’m madly in love. They totally don’t work with my style but I always drool over them. Off to try to make one of them fit in my house.

  9. I love this so much! The bright colors look amazing in your foyer! It’s crazy how much dirt came out of it; good thing you’ve got that new cleaner!

  10. I think this rug is amazing and gorgeous and I absolutely adore it. I do not think it’s puking anything, thought I may have thrown-up in my mouth a little with the dirty water pic. My mind went no where good on that one. Thanks goodness you got it fresh and clean. I guess that is the downside to an antique rug, huh?

  11. Bernadette's Daughter says:

    The smell, haha. I just bought a couple really nice natural fiber baskets from Marshalls that were clearanced. I put them in our office temporarily and all of a sudden the room smelled like urine. UGH! I was already on the fence about whether to keep them and that was the deciding factor. If I was more highly motivated I could have sealed them with a clear spray. Love the colors on your rug. I think the size is what makes your rug seem to dominate your space. You could always get it cut in half and bound turning it the other way in front of your door. Then you would have a spare rug if it got dirty or damaged. We always have trouble finding a rug that will even fit under the sweep of our door. Can’t wait to see what all you add from those pretty colors around the rest of your home!

    • Yes the size was a challenge! I should’ve talked about that in the post. Andy was adamant that it take up the whole foyer area in case one of the kids ever falls down the stairs, so it will (ever so slightly?) cushion their fall. 🙂 I decided not to fight with him on that! (Although I do wish it was about five inches smaller on the longest side!

  12. Miss Chris says:

    Absolutely swooning over the happy rainbow of colors in your gorgeous “new” rug! The perfect “Hey, wake up!” on your way out the door each morning, and the perfect “So glad you’re back!” to greet you on arriving home at the end of a long day. Well done!!

  13. it looks awesome!! great choice!

  14. grossssss on all of that turkey juice. I think you have enough to make gravy for the next several Thanksgivings. (ok, ew.) Such fun colors, though–and good thing you were able to get the stink out!

  15. awesome! except for the brown water. And I don’t think “cool” and “crazy fun house” are mutually exclusive 😉

  16. It’s gorgeous, like seriously beautiful. But, I have to admit that the dirt sort of grossed me out. i have been stalking ebay for one much like yours but was really wondering if it would be dirty and smelly…and you confirmed my worst fears. (and I’ve been to Turkey and although I loved it, it did smell is some areas….if only I’d been obsessed with these rugs back then!).

    • I got a Turkish kilim rug from eBay, and yes, I can confirm that it absolutely smells. I have treated it with a variety of basically everything… and the smell is mostly gone. *Mostly.* My husband still calls it the “stinky rug.” I wasn’t able to get my rug clean like this one, even with a Rug Doctor, so that was probably the problem. *Shrug.* It looks cool!

  17. Julia @cuckoo4design says:

    OMG I can’t believe it was that dirty! Love how it looks though the colors are amazing!

  18. I’m trying to restrain myself from going on that website with the rugs. I love kilims and the ones in this post have so much personality. I bet that rug just makes you smile every time you see it.

  19. Portia McCracken says:

    These rugs have to put up with a lot in their natural habitat, so it’s not surprising they’re dirty. And this one is 100 years old, so that’s a lot of accumulated hardship. It’s a shame the dealer didn’t clean it first, but that would probably affect the price. You guys did a great job with the cleaning, so congrats. How long did it take to dry after you cleaned it?

    The finished product is reminiscent of an exotic tiled floor, only it’s soft and warm instead of cold and hard. Great job, guys!

    • You’re so right – I don’t know why I expected it to arrive clean and fresh after all it’s been through. It dried within a day or so, and that was sitting on carpet, so it wasn’t too bad at all.

      • Portia McCracken says:

        Wow, that carpet cleaner beast you bought at the yard sale must be pretty good. I’m glad the colors didn’t run or fade. Hmm, I wonder how the original owners of these rugs cleaned them, other than by beating? On the other hand, beating may have been the only safe way to clean them in Turkey, in those days.

        May your heirloom treasure give you many years of proud enjoyment 🙂

  20. The rug is gorgeous! I’m shire I would be pretty upset if my new rug smelled liked “turkeys”! Glad you had that steam cleaner just in time!!!

  21. I’m obsessed with this rug!!! It looks great! You are a lot braver than me. I’ve always been to nervous to purchase rugs off the internet but now I might just have to go for it 🙂

  22. I Love It! It is a bold statement but one that will set the tone for the rest of your home. It’s not crazy, it’s beautiful and not to be forgotten. All your guests will covet it.

  23. I love it! I say go craaaazaaaaay!

  24. what a gorgeous rug! it really makes the entire room change. so happy!

    and LOL at andy’s princess foot!

  25. Oh yeah baby!! Aww I’m so pleased you went for it – it looks freaking awesome already! And thank you for the little shout out *blushes* Can’t wait to see all the colour explosion happenings in your home after this. Glad to hear the turkey smell has been eradicated – I always find stuff from Anthropologie has a bit of a funky smell, have you ever noticed that? Wonder if their stuff in the UK is shipped from Turkey too? xxx

  26. It’s beautiful! Love all the colors!

  27. Wow, I LOVE all the colors!!!! That rug is so pretty. I also love how your post title unabashedly uses the word “puke” and you rhyme. That’s pretty killer.

    That nasty rug water, though… oh lord. I would have freaked out imagining what all had been done on that rug. It’s SO gross that it was shipped to you like that… seems unhealthy. Hopefully there were no brain eating amoeba packed away in the fibers.

    • OMG…. I’m usually really good at imagining gross and weird worst-case scenarios, but I hadn’t even considered brain-eating amoebas! Now I’m certain there are still some in there. And every time I forget something important or can’t come up with the word I’m trying to say, I will KNOW that the amoebas are slowly eating my brain.

  28. So impressed that you took the plunge for COLOR! And by color I mean your new rug, not the brown juice color that came out of it. Looking forward to see your new colors throughout the house…

  29. It’s lovely! The colors are so fun and the fact that it is an ANTIQUE makes it so much more fun!

  30. I love, love, love it!!! Our favorite vacation was to Turkey and I wanted to leave Joel and fill the extra seat with beautiful Turkish rugs. 🙂

  31. I LOVE it! I’ve been eyeballing one of these but I’m terribly afraid of the smells. I bought a moroccan pouf (which I know, I know, is not at all the same thing) but it smells so bad. NOTHING I did got rid of that smell, so I’m so glad you got the smell out!! It looks fabulous. Now color me jealous. 🙂

    • Ohhh I’m so glad you said that! I’ve wanted a moroccan pouf for a while and I hadn’t considered the smell of those. Harder to clean too! (But maybe still worth it? hmm) 🙂

  32. I have a couple of heirloom rugs from Turkey and Morocco and have never cleaned them except to vacuum. Guess I was lucky they didn’t stink…or they do and I don’t care??

    The rug you got was beautiful. I much prefer character and color to boring generic!

  33. Kelly @ JAX does design says:

    Love it! Your entry and your whole house are going to be gorgeous with those awesome colours interspersed here and there 🙂 Great rug choice!

  34. Love the rug! It creates a very welcoming look for your foyer. It will be interesting to see where you go with the colors in terms of your other plans for the foyer.

  35. I think that it’s lovely…and I’m so glad that it smells nice now too. I can’t stand funky smells in the house. They drive me nuts! Yay for the beautiful color! In a world that is falling for all white…..I am still loving color. ~k.

  36. Oh man, I was in tears when you gave the Princess Foot Syndrome reference! Just FYI when my hubby was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq he would send me packages and every time I opened them up they reeked…I think it’s just something different in the air over there.

  37. Love the rug and I think that shade of violet would be yummy on the dining room wall- go for it!

  38. Love the rug! All the colors and everything are gorgeous! Perfect for your foyer!

  39. As the proud owner of a crazy colorful home, I love your new rug! I would be painting walls in all those bright, fun colors. I think that color adds so much personality to your home. I hope you love it.

  40. Ah I love that rug so much! I can’t wait to see how much the entire space changes around it. It’s seriously amazing and when I get your address to send you a Christmas card this year just know that it wasn’t me that stole your beautiful Turkish rug while you were out shopping.

  41. I love it, Kelly! It is so perfect in the space! I love all the colors, and they will be beautiful throughout the rest of your house as well. Great pick!

    ~Abby =)

  42. Puking and reeking never looked so amazing! I’ll take that vomit anyday…

    I’m in the market for a new and BOLD rug. Popping over there now, yo.

  43. girly, you crack me up!
    who knew chevron was all the rage in the early 1900’s also!!!
    I LOVE IT!!!

  44. It is beautiful! I can’t wait to see rest of the space! 🙂

  45. Umm…you are flippin’ hilarious and that rug is gorgeous! I’d loooove to get one but I’m pretty sure my dogs would to go town turning it muddy brown in no time flat 😉

  46. Clearly cool


  47. Soooo, I thought I hated turkish kilim rugs. Turns out I am OBSESSED with them. I LOVE THE NEW RUG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. LOVE the color 🙂 I’m such a fan of those rugs. They brighten up and add personality to any room!!!

  49. I will say I was a little skeptical of the crazy colored rug, but as usual, it looks lovely in your house! Still cant believe all that brown water….sick! Way to go on de-stinkifying!

  50. Amazing colors! Brightens up the space wonderfully!

  51. Gahh!!! I LOVE IT!!! Funny, I just bought a rug too (after returning two others before finding The One) and realized I did not actually want the amazing orange and hot pink and aqua oriental I’ve been lusting after at World Market forever. No. I wanted brown textured synthetic jute. It’s perfect. I will have a place for a zingy kilim someday, but the living room is not it.
    Oh, and I’m excited to see you pull colors from that to the adjoining spaces. Freshen up, girl!

  52. Hi! You seem to have great sense of humor 🙂 Or you just don’t like the Turkish…Whatever. I’m also fan of bright colors. But all Turkish rugs are so colorful that I am still deciding whether to buy this or that. At least now I know how to clean rugs…

  53. I’ve just come across your blog, and the timing couldn’t be better! My boyfriend and I just bought a hella old house, and we’ve been looking for floor pretties. Thanks to this post, I’ve finally found THE rug!

  54. Hello!
    This is Nihal from Ankara Turkey.
    I hope you are having good time with your kilim.
    If a kilim is wool this is how it would smell all the time. Since it has natural dyes made by tree roots. So that’s not how Turkey smells that’s how all the naturally made kilims smell.
    Although I appreciate how you cleaned up your kilim -which I would want to do so- my mum would have a heart attack if someone had all those to her kilims or carpets since it would cause losing colours tones and shortens kilims life.
    We do have carpet cleaning factiries here and it’s very very popular but most of the women don’t have their hand made carpets or kilims cleaned at those factories. They use it for machine made carpets usually. Well I didn’t care and sent away to be cleaned my ones though!!
    Lots of love from Turkey

    • I’m sure it’s not how Turkey smells! We were just being silly. But thank you so much for this information! I’m so glad to hear from you and hear how you clean them there. Thank you!

    • sibel balkan says:

      Why do you try to excuse these racist people! Most American people have the worsened diet ever all they eat is trash and they smell like poop out of there mouth do not let me start!

  55. Ohh and I think that dirty looking water is not all dirt but some natural fibre dyes.

  56. Gara in Sydney says:

    Love your rug! I think a red vase or pot on the hall table would be a good touch. Or maybe your mirror could have a red frame. I do love bright colour touches, not overdone.
    Love it all, you are doing a great job!

  57. I LOVE your rug! I do know that in Afghanistan after a rug is made, they put it out on the street for people to walk on. Forget why, but it’s supposed to serve some purpose. Maybe they do the same in Turkey. ???

    I have several kilims I got secondhand in Europe. I just squired them with baby shampoo & hosed them down in my bathtub (cold water) until all the nasty washed out. A lot of people freak about about washing a wool rug, but you can totally do it.

    • Oh good to know! I would’ve never thought to try that, but I do think these rugs are much more durable than people give them credit for. Thanks for sharing!

  58. Suzanne Pelka says:

    I just LOVE your kilim. I just saved a large kilim of my own today. I bought it 15 years ago and let it get nearly totally ruined in my basement by millions of moths, mold and moth larve. DISGUSTING. But today I spent 2 hours with a strong hose and rounds of cleanings: 1) simple green and hot water, 2) ammonia and hot water, and finally 3) dish-detergent and hot water. About 2 lbs of wool came off with all the gross moth bits. AND it STILL looks usable and enjoyable! These are hardy rugs!

  59. I browse a few blogs as a one time read but I stumbled across your blog recently and I love it! You’ve got yourself a loyal, repeat reader in me. And crap, now I love these rugs, too. I love the idea of an heirloom and know they are quality made but never had the desire for one, until now… thanks to you. Especially because you showed me an affordable way to get an authentic one. The smell and what might crawl into the package creeps me out a bit. I’ll have to get it in the middle of winter and leave it in my shed so whatever is in will not survive the cold Minnesota winter.

  60. I just came across your blog/post since I am also considering buying a Turkish kilim rug off Ebay. Thank you so much for your tips! I think I am going to take the plunge and order one, since I have been eyeing them for a while now 😉 I’m a little nervous but your post made me feel better & excited. Also love the way the rug looks in your entry way. It’s the perfect pop of color and really works well with your wall color.
    Home Style Love

  61. Well this is a common trick among the antique rug sellers in Turkey, they put the newly weaved rugs on the sidewalk or the floor of their store so that the people walk on it, rugs look aged and ‘antique’. Most probably the gross stink was because of that.

  62. Loved this post! I did the same a few years back & ordered a kilim from Turkey off eBay. Love the rug, but it stank of a wet goat (which is kind of like a wet dog). The smell goes away a few days after I clean it, so I think it does, until I do my routine steam cleaning and then, Phew! does it smell as strong as ever. I was hoping to find someone that knew the trick when I came across your blog. So glad to find that I’m not the only one with the problem! I’ve tried baking soda, but not to the extent you did, so I’ll have to give that a go. … BTW, my husband is a Princess foot too and cant stand it, or should I say on it, either. Haha

  63. I love Turkish Kilim rugs , what’s your opinion about Moroccan Kilim Rugs ??

    • I just bought a Kilim rug when I was in Morocco. They shipped it, as it’s 5’x7′. The only very slight odor may have been from the packing materials. After reading the cleaning ideas here, I’m no longer worried about keeping it “precious”, and using it in my living room.

  64. I love the rug and want to put it in my Livingroom!! I should look on eBay but…. I was wondering about the corners. I see they’re rolling up. That would annoy me… Has it gotten worse? Any ideas on how to make it not roll up like that? Also… How much did you pay for this?

    • Yes, the corners of mine roll up a little bit, but they also did on the ebay listing. I haven’t tried anything to fix that yet.

  65. Amazing rugs! Oh…I want to buy one for my kitchen but my boyfriend doesn’t like the idea of oriental rug in the house. I will show him this article and I hope that he would change his mind. Regards!

  66. The most beautiful rug I’ve ever seen! I am going to renovate my living room and I want to buy one of these amazing rugs. Can you tell me from where did you buy this beauty?

  67. Thanks for the sharing of such information. we will pass it on to our readers. This is a great reading. Thanking you

  68. Fantastic article. I have troubles with my rug, too. Baking soda solved them. Thank you for sharing this great post! Greetings!

  69. Lisa Brown says:

    Hi Kelly!
    I would love to have a rug just like that. Who was the seller on ebay?

  70. Hi Kelly:
    I was looking for an online resource to clean a kilim that I recently bought myself. Thank you for your tips. Glad yours turned out so well! Also, though your carpets are very pretty, they are not antique and not even close to being 100 years old. The older ones, though vibrantly colored, take on a much more muted tone after wear and aging. A good resource for identifying patterns and colors can be found online. Happy searching!


  1. […] If you like colorful foyers like me, then you must check out my friend Kelly’s. She is in the process of transforming her more serious foyer into a colorful space. I may want to steal her new Turkish Kilim rug. You wont believe it. Check it out here! […]

  2. […] you can see more about the foyer project here, inspiration for this headboard project here, and the details on THAT RUG right here. if you liked this […]

  3. […] neutral, and boring? (Except the magnetic letters. They were FUN. And educational.) Then I got my Turkish kilim rug and we turned an old yard sale headboard into a bench. But across from the bench? Sadness. A […]

  4. […] started like this: And after adding the kilim rug and removing the turkeys, we are at this hugely underwhelming (yet colorful!) point right now. But you know what? Pretty […]

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