Old World textiles | New Bozeman showroom
by Stephanie Dennee
“I think it can be initially intimidating for homeowners to look at vintage and antique rugs, but this generation of consumers wants product knowledge and a deeper connection with what they put in their homes.”
–Heather Cade, Owner, District Loom
A century’s worth of travel is underfoot at the District Loom showroom. The miles are woven into perfectly worn vintage and antique rugs with lush textures, softened color palettes, and intricate patterns. Some of the rugs’ travelogs began in 19th-century Caucasus tribal communities or remote Iranian villages. Most meandered the storied Silk Road with stop-overs in Istanbul before landing on the floors of European gentry, navigating both geopolitics and changing tastes en route. The rugs passed hands, generation to generation, from Old World to New World, to perhaps the newest and most unexpected world of all—a bespoke mountain home in Montana. Remarkable journeys like this call to mind the many paths that lead to Montana for both objects and people. Heather Cade, the owner of District Loom and curator of the rug collection fanned across the showroom floor, shares an equally remarkable journey to Bozeman and the antique rug trade. Now, she envisions the next path for District Loom rugs as an ideal complement to Mountain West design.
“The last couple of years have encompassed both a cross-country move and an enormous career change,” Heather says, as she recounts the decision she made with her husband, Brett, to trade their Washington, D.C., life for the slower pace of Montana. The move punctuated her desire to leave her career as a nurse practitioner and put full-time effort toward her burgeoning hobby-turned-passion online rug business. “As strange as it might sound, many skills have naturally transferred from my career in nursing to District Loom. Fearlessness is required for both, as is intense research and visual analysis. Both fields also require the ability to take something inherently complex and make it understandable.”
Complex is an understatement when delving into the world of antique and vintage textiles. An entirely new lexicon is required to grasp the origin, material, motif, and techniques in the collection of over 100 rugs acquired by District Loom (see inset for expert tips). Heather views her role not as simply selling rugs but as transferring that knowledge. “I think it can be initially intimidating for homeowners to look at vintage and antique rugs, but this generation of consumers wants product knowledge and a deeper connection with what they put in their homes,” she explains.
“Ultimately, we’re able to offer a more intentional and instantly applicable set of rugs to our clients.”
–Heather Cade, Owner, District Loom
Heather anticipates that the opening of District Loom’s appointment-only showroom in the Four Corners area this winter will create more opportunities to share her passion for the textile collection. Experiential shopping was something she saw missing in the market as she dug through mountains of rugs in a dark warehouse on her first buying outing. “I instantly felt that finding an antique rug didn’t need to be so uncomfortable or pressure-filled. I want to give a better experience to others,” she says. To that end, District Loom’s bright showroom space emulates a home setting, and Heather often pre-pulls selections based on initial conversations with clients, forgoing any decision fatigue. District Loom also offers concierge services to local clients and designers, including sourcing custom options directly from international suppliers and the ability to show a selection of rugs directly in the home.
Beyond providing clients with an experiential connection to the product, District Loom’s rug collection is the truest definition of sustainable. While a staggering five billion pounds of carpet and rug waste hits U.S. landfills each year, the textiles at District Loom have been in rotation for decades. Before joining the District Loom catalog, each piece receives masterful identification, repair, and cleaning from international experts.
District Loom’s online store success—highlighted by collaborations with celebrity designers and the retail darling Anthropologie—speaks to the design world’s shift from new, often synthetic-fiber rugs to the warmth and individuality an antique rug lends to a home. Ever in tune with this shift, Heather studies current design trends and thoughtfully curates capsule collections that reflect them. “Ultimately, we’re able to offer a more intentional and instantly applicable set of rugs to our clients,” she says.
Heather sees a natural connection between the prevailing mountain modern design in Bozeman and Big Sky and her rug collection, particularly the muted colors and perfectly worn feel of her antique-washed pieces. “When placed in a mountain or ranch space, an antique-washed rug complements without competing with the architecture, interior pieces, and view,” she says. In an otherwise entirely modern home, Heather says that the addition of an antique textile “provides a compelling counterpoint and a moment of instant authenticity.”
Heather Shares What to Look for when Shopping for an Antique Rug:
Your rug supplier should be able to identify the origin of the piece based upon pattern, motif, and weaving technique.
Identifying the origin often helps narrow the age of the rug. Weavers produced certain rug designs during specific time periods. Antique rugs are over 100 years old while vintage rugs are at least 30 years old.
A tighter weave means more material and time put into the piece, increasing its value.
One hundred percent wool is the gold standard, followed by wool on cotton weaving. Flip the rug over—there should be no synthetic backing.
True antique rugs use only vegetable-dyed fibers. The color should be evenly distributed from the base to the top of the tuft.
District Loom’s move to Bozeman has opened the door to a broader selection of textile options for the area and an opportunity to bring a blend of unique history and sustainable beauty home, with Heather’s knowledge and concierge service as a gracious host. And as for the timeless rugs in the District Loom collection, the move to Bozeman seems yet another knot woven into their one-of-a-kind journeys.