Decorating with Textiles Series: Carpets From Afghanistan
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of visiting my friend, Abdul Wardak, in his Wisconsin home. We were partners in a gallery in Chicago and I continue to work with him in Paducah, Kentucky, managing his online presence for Afghan Tribal Arts as well as his properties here. After we closed our gallery, I wanted to move to a warmer climate and the original plan was to relocate the gallery as well. Instead, Abdul was able to purchase a package deal on some worn down houses here which he has been rehabbing over time. The gallery may still happen some day. I rarely travel, so seeing his home was a special treat, especially since I miss seeing his kids. I asked him if it would be ok to share the photos that I took for this series and he was delighted.
From the outside, the home is a traditional ranch style structure, Midwestern looking, like any other house in Sturgeon Bay. They have a couple of acres and a barn, perfect for storing merchandise for his import business. The roomy house served as a perfect transition when moving from Chicago, although now four of the six kids have left for college or marriage.
It’s always so interesting when you step in someone’s door and see what they have done to personalize a space! This house has some nice accents, arched doorways and rod iron stairs, that fit perfectly with a Central Asian decor. Here are a couple of views of the arches:
With and without flash:
The floor plan has a large, open living room and dining room area and the arches lead into a family room and bedroom. As you can see, Afghan carpets define the space, making it warm and welcoming. The photo below shows the entrance, with the kitchen at the back wall. The carpet in the living room is huge! It would take several months to make it! Cushions also add a splash of color and comfort.
This is a space for people and it is usually lively with activity. Abdul takes care of business while his dog chills out:
The family room is a great space to hang out and watch movies. The photo is blurry and messy, but this is such a great idea that I decided to include it here. Covered mattresses on the floor with pillows are used in homes around the world, where people traditionally do not use chairs. Carpets are durable, soft and easy to clean. I have a futon in my living room for my dogs, also covered in a carpet. I have other blankets on it which I wash regularly and the carpet vacuums right up. Wool has natural oils in it that repel dirt and bacteria, much healthier than synthetic options.
Here is one of the bedrooms, just past that family room, the guest room, which I thoroughly enjoyed:
The kitchen area has an informal feel with a breakfast area that is sunny and bright.
The eggplant upholstery of the chairs picks up the purples in the carpet under the table perfectly. Notice how carpets also help define spaces. The top photo shows how the rugs separate areas visually by the outline of the rugs on the floor. The sliding doors open to a large deck and yard, with a great view of the barn.
The kids have learned to care for chickens, goats, geese and other animals.
See the little house off to the back? That was filled with textiles! One more guestroom, a boho paradise! I don’t have a good photo of how it looked, but the dog showed off a bit in there:
They also have a vegetable garden in the summer. It seems idyllic, doesn’t it? And, one wonders what stories came before, who else nurtured this land and these buildings, how they decorated their space… But, all of this means constant work, fixing and keeping things in order. While I was there, Abdul and his son worked on a fence that one of the goats kept breaking through:
Moving from a metro area to a small town like Sturgeon Bay was a major shift for the family. The kids had to learn how to deal with standing out in school, how to care for the animals and how to grow things. Abdul is almost always on the road doing bead shows around the South, so he manages a lot by phone. His two sons meet up with him when they have breaks from college and all of the kids pitch in with organizing inventory and doing local shows.
The bread and butter for Afghan Tribal Arts has been the beads. But, they also have a huge selection of carpets from Afghanistan, most of which are stored in their big garage attached the house. There is also a great selection in Abdul’s gallery in Pendleton, South Carolina, Sturee Tribal Village.
When you walk into Abdul’s house, you get an immediate feeling of being transported to the Silk Road, of having a taste of Afghanistan within an American context. Yet, Abdul has actually incorporated furniture and decorative objects from many other traditions in his home: a Chinese dresser in the hall, the Mexican bed in the guest room, textiles from India and Indonesia… Doing so many shows has broadened his interest to other parts of the world which often end up in trades, bringing memories of other friends in the import business. These are the modern nomads!
Professional designers do the same thing, integrating many different traditions and styles to create a look that works for a space and its people. Carpets from Afghanistan look as comfortable in a Victorian setting as they do in a rustic cabin or a minimalist modern space. If you are in the market for one, Abdul’s sons can help you in the Sturgeon Bay/Chicago area.. We do not carry them online at this time due to storage and shipping issues. But, if you like smaller textiles, beads and tribal jewelry, I am happy to help you with what we have listed in the Etsy shop.
Roshan and Zaland are both in college in Green Bay, not too far from home. They will be happy to help with local inquiries.
Use the contact form on Afghan Tribal Arts and I will forward emails to Abdul or his sons. Or, you can leave a comment here and I will make sure that they see it.
I wish the photos that I took were better, but wasn’t planning on making them into a feature. Still, I hope they give you a sense of the life and beauty there! Many thanks to Abdul for letting me use them in this series!
Decorating with Textiles Series
Would you like to participate in this series? The Decorating with Textiles Series is an ongoing project on this blog. Participating in this series is open to all of you out there who love textiles. Many of our TAFA members make beautiful decorative textiles and functional work as well and showcasing these homes can help stimulate new ideas of what to do with textiles. Seeing a photo online is much different from seeing how a textile will function in an environment. Many people appreciate textiles but have no idea how to display them or what to do with them. We’d like to have many people participate in this series, each bringing in their own ideas and tastes. You do not have to be a TAFA member to participate.
Contact me if you are interested and would like to submit a post:
rayela [@] comcast.net (remove spaces and brackets)
Visit TAFA to see inspiring art quilts, weavings and accessories for the home. Maybe you will find the perfect accent for your home!
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