Beautiful, affordable, custom area rugs are one of the most sought after items in any home’s interior. They add charm, grace, richness, texture, softness and pattern to any room they are placed in. They also are extremely functional, too, often used for sound absorption in homes where small children are playing underfoot or adults are entertaining and need to hear each other’s conversations.
Today on Hadley Court, I would like to introduce you to Dustin Van Fleet, the designer of the Ehsani Rug collection -a very affordable collection of custom area rugs in wool and wool and silk that I found and liked. One of my favorite designs of his is the one in the picture above.
I am designing and specifying a custom silk and wool runner now for the grand entrance staircase of a home I’m designing here in Midland, Texas from Dustin’s company. This one will be more traditional, similar to this one from his existing collection:
It didn’t hurt that I was able to show my clients that one of Dustin’s rugs [ No. 3 ] had been featured here in House Beautiful magazine –they had never heard of his company before .
I know many of you might be looking for a custom solution in rugs, as well, that is well priced and can be custom colored, designed and sized for no upcharge – Dustin’s rugs fit that bill. [ Don’t miss the link to a sizing guide for them at the bottom of this post ]
For this introduction to his rugs, I asked Leslie Carothers, whose company, The Kaleidoscope Partnership, helps me keep on top of social media, if she would interview Dustin for me, and I hope you enjoy this interview with him ~ Please meet Dustin:
Q1: Dustin, you are a well known restoration expert, interior designer, and product designer, but your path to your present career was a bit different. Can you share more about that?
A1: Sure. I trained to become a professional tennis player for years, was a professional model, went to college and triple majored in History, Political Science and Philosophy, then went onward to law school and finally got a Masters degree in Leadership and Public Administration.
While in college I purchased my first historic property and completed all the work and designs myself and found out that design is what I really have a passion for doing in my life. A highlight for me was when, in 2010, my work received an Excellence in Rehabilitation award from the Georgia Trust For Historic Preservation for the E.M. Rogers home in Adel, Georgia, pictured below. You should have seen the before..it was awful!
Q2: Who was your earliest design inspiration, Dustin, and why?
A2: My earliest design inspiration was Mackenzie Childs – I have a Latin [ Cuban ] background and her use of color and the way she mixed patterns always appealed to me – even as a child. Now, as an adult, I still take inspiration from her early influence and love using color and mixing patterns together in my own design work and in my own line of repurposed furniture and tabletop.
I’m also highly influenced by nature and the names of my rugs come from geographical places. I equate places with strong colors, like Siesta Key in Florida. Florida , where I live, has lots of strong colors, bright light and strongly colored sunsets. All of this influences me, personally.
Q3: Dustin, from your beginnings in historic renovation, how did the opportunity to design custom rugs for Mr. Ehfsani’s company come about?
A3: Ray Ehfsani started following my Distinctly Dustin Page on Facebook (!) and started interacting with me there. I didn’t know him at all. Later on, I found out he was from Bradenton, FL, my home town, and then we decided to meet for coffee since I live in St. Petersburg , FL and he doesn’t live far away,
When we met, I found out that Ray, who had been in the rug industry for 35 years and had retired once, had gotten tired of not working and so, 4 years ago, he decided to start his own rug company. When we met that day, he was looking for a designer to partner with to design rugs for him and so we started discussing the possibilities of my being that partner- and here we are today.
Q4: What should consumers or designers know about your area rugs? What makes them different from others that are on the market..for instance, ones from mass retailers selling area rugs very inexpensively?
A4. There is no comparison between my area rugs and something machine made out of synthetic fibers. Some of the chemicals used to make those can offgass –something that, in my opinion, might not be too healthy for the kids playing on them.
All of our rugs are all natural- either 100% wool or a wool and silk blend and each one is hand made and hand loomed in India..and we don’t use any child labor, a subject I grilled Ray on when he and I met.
The artisans that make my collection have been doing this work all their lives and so have their parents and their parents’ parents. The lush pile of my rugs is something that has to be seen to be appreciated and Ray, given his long experience in the industry and in India, knows the best families still carrying on these traditions today.
I am really proud to have my name on them.
Q5: Dustin, no offense, but there are a lot of other custom area rugs out in the market today, from companies that are more widely known. What makes ordering from your company unique?
All of the Van Der Fleet designs that you see on http://ehsanifinerugs.com can be custom colored in any Pantone color and/or custom sized and the price does not change!! The price for our all wool rugs is 12.00 a square foot and the price for our silk and wool rugs is 28.00 a square foot. If your readers know anything about what other companies are charging – who are more widely known than we are right now – they’ll recognize the value that represents.
We don’t believe in charging people more to get you what works in their homes. I’ve always believed in keeping the price of what I do as affordable as possible-that comes from all my years of experience in sourcing inexpensively for the homes I renovated –I was always finding ways to cut costs and give the homeowners or property owners more value -or to create it for myself that way – LOL!
We also don’t send out cheesy little samples. If a homeowner or designer wants a strike off or sample, they will get a 2’ x3’ sample so they step on it, stomp on it and move it around to look at in different lights at different types of day to make sure the colors work with what else is in their room.
We don’t charge for strike offs, either. Once it’s approved, the delivery time into someone’s home is about 90 days. Also, if someone needs help with a custom design, I’m the one they’re going to get on the phone! I want people to be happy with what they buy from me and I won’t farm that personal touch out to anyone else until I absolutely have to because of growth.
Q5: One last question for you, Dustin: Is there a great article you recommend on area rugs that Hadley Court’s readers could look at so they can learn more, in general , about area rugs and also about how to plan the size of what they should by in their own homes?
A5: I don’t know of one, offhand, Leslie, there are a lot of them on the internet if people will search Google for “buying an area rug or buying a custom area rug.”
[ Readers, a good article in this regard is this one on http://lampsplus.com here, written by designer Lisa Ferguson of Décor Mentor : http://www.lampsplus.com/info-center/b/blog/archive/2012/01/25/area-rug-size-guides-from-decor-mentor-founder-lisa-ferguson.aspx }
Q5: Thank you, Dustin, for your time! Is there anything else you would like to share before we finish our interview?
A5: Yes! First of all, thank you for giving me this opportunity to be featured here- I appreciate it-especially as this blog won the Best New Design Blog Hall of Fame award at the Design Bloggers Conference in Los Angeles earlier this year and now I understand has also been nominated as one of the 25 in the Best Home Design Blog category in the new Lamps Plus contest.
Please tell Leslie I wish her good luck – I have a lot of friends in this and I wish them all the best of luck, too!
Secondly, please tell Leslie how much I appreciate her faith in our new company for specifying one of my custom wool and silk rugs for this big job she’s working on. I’ve run into designers not quite trusting us yet, because they don’t know our production process and quality as well as they know other large companies, so this means a lot to Ray and I.
We just started our business a little over a year ago and it takes a while to get up and running, and although we have a steady business already, every time we get a custom order from a designer like Leslie, that’s one step closer for us to achieving what we’ve set out to do.
Q6: Dustin, thank you for taking your time to do this interview -we know you’re busy and will we see you at High Point Market?
A7: YES! All of your readers that might be attending #HPmkt, too, are invited for cocktails and crudites at my event with my co-hosts, Nancy Price Home, Marilyn Trainor Story, The Scout Guide and myself at the Antique and Design Center on Saturday night, October 19th between 4-7 pm.
Please make sure to come up and introduce yourselves…we’re all really looking forward to it. It will be a GREAT party and you know how I love to entertain, just like you told me that Leslie ‘s Mom did, too, when Leslie was growing up at her family’s summer home, Hadley Court.