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My Turkish Kilim (a.k.a., My Soon-To-Be Ottoman or Headboard)

Recently when my mom and I were cleaning out all of my storage units that I had accumulated while we lived in our tiny condo, I came across one of my favorite things ever.  It’s a Turkish kilim that I purchased in Istanbul many years ago while I was living in Turkey.

Turkish kilim

I don’t think that pictures (and especially my pictures) do this thing justice.  It’s really a gorgeous piece with beautiful, rich colors.

The sad thing is that it’s been stuck in a box and I’ve gotten absolutely no use out of it for the last seven years.  So I really want to find a way to use it in our house.

Two things I absolutely do not want to do with it are…

Put it on the floor.

Kilims are very thin.  They’re flat-woven rugs, so they don’t have any kind of weight or pile to help them keep their shape or stay put.  Now imagine a thin, flat-woven rug in a home where one person is rolling around in a wheelchair, and you have a recipe for disaster…or at the very least, a recipe for immense daily frustration.

Hang it on the wall.

When I posted it on Facebook the other day, sooooooo many people suggested that I hang it on the wall.

That’s a lovely idea, but here’s the deal.  I hung this kilim on the wall in our first three homes — our first apartment that we lived in after we got married, our first house that we had built in Oregon, and the rental house that we lived in right after we moved to Waco.

As wonderful of an idea as it is to hang it on the wall, I absolutely cannot fathom recycling that decade-old decorating idea in our new house.  I want the ideas I incorporate here to be fresh and new for us (for the most part), not recycled.

So that leads me to the two options I’m seriously considering…

The Ottoman Option

Until last night, I had pretty much decided that I wanted to use the kilim to cover an ottoman for our living room.  I really do love a kilim-covered ottoman, and I think it would be fun to make one from scratch, especially using a kilim that has sentimental value to me.

I would want to make something similar to this one from The Marlborough Rug Company.

Kilim ottoman from The Marlborough Rug Company

I love those beautiful stained legs and the nailhead trim!

The “pro” to this option are that it would finally get the kilim out of a box and into my home where I could actually enjoy it.  The “con” is that with it in the living room, it would be right smack dab in the middle of the room, and one of the first things you see when you walk through the front door.  In other words, something this colorful and bold would certainly have to set the stage for the rest of the decorating in that room.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but just something I need to consider.

And then there’s the other option…

The Headboard Option

My mom stopped by for a bit yesterday, and we were talking about different options for the kilim.  I picked it up and carried it into the bedroom and draped it over the head of the bed, but once we reached the bedroom, the kilim talk took a back seat to the stained wood bed frame talk since it was the first time she was seeing the bed frame I had built.

When she left, I just left the kilim on the bed without really giving it much thought.  Then last night when I walked into the bedroom to get ready for bed, I stopped in my tracks.  The kilim looked so beautiful with the dark stained bed frame.  So I grabbed my camera and started snapping a few pictures.  (Obviously my cat approves.  I’m pretty sure she slept there all afternoon and evening.)

Turkish kilim used as a headboard

I mean, the dark wood complimented the rich colors in the kilim beautifully, and I could just imagine the kilim-upholstered headboard surrounded by a rich stained wood frame.  It’s almost like they were made to go together!

So now I’m leaning towards the headboard idea, but I’m still undecided.  Obviously it would throw a wrench into my original decorating plans for this room (mainly just the accent fabric that I chose, which unfortunately, I’ve already ordered) but it might be worth it to change course this early considering how beautifully the kilim and stained wood bed frame go together.

For the record…

Regardless of which of these projects I do, I will have to cut the kilim if I want to end up with a really professional-quality product.  And I’m okay with that.  I figure it’s better to cut it and use it than to stick it in a box for another seven years.

And no, I’m not interested in selling it.  🙂  I was surprised at how many people on the Facebook post said, “Don’t cut it!  Sell it, and use the money to purchase a fabric that you really want!”

That completely misses the point.  The point is that I absolutely love this kilim.  It has sentimental value to me (which is pretty much the only value it has since I bought it for only $120 — it’s not a precious antique kilim or anything like that) and I want to keep it.  I just want to find a way that I can actually use it and enjoy it in my house in a way that doesn’t involve having it on the floor or hanging it on the wall.

So in my mind, the headboard idea is in the lead.  But if you know me at all, you know that that could change in an instant.  🙂



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  1. I think the headboard is a great idea! I know people are appalled at the idea of cutting it, but that’s like being appalled at painting “real wood” cabinets or trim. The item, whatever it is, HAS to work for you, and if it gives you pleasure, that’s all that matters.

  2. It’s beautiful, but I have one concern about the headboard idea. It’s going to limit your choices of bed covering. Having one cat and one dog, both of whom tend to believe they should sleep right on top of us, I tend to gravitate toward patterned bed coverings to camouflage any pet hair that shows up between washings. If you use it for an ottoman, you’re more likely to have solid colors on your bigger furniture pieces, yes? Just a thought.

  3. It would make a beautiful lined weekend tote with a matching soho bag. Place mats, accent pillows, backing in a picture frame, stockings, dog bed, table runner etc. Sometimes it is nice to take a sentimental piece and divvy it up so that it feels like it becomes an integral part of your world.

  4. I like the idea of the ottoman better. Lee Ann said it better than I could. Also those rugs have a slight odor. I don’t think I would like having it right next to my head while sleeping. You wouldn’t notice the wooly smell in an ottoman. Whatever you do, I know I am going to love it. I love the colors in your rug and I think it will add alot to a room.

  5. I agree with Deb up there. I say go with what your intuition is telling you. I sometimes get so paralyzed by the idea of making a mistake with something that’s precious to me, so I end up not doing anything with it at all. I hate that feeling- I want to live with those precious things and be surrounded by them.

    I think the Kilim would look beautiful as a headboard, especially framed out with that deep-toned wood and some nailhead trim. Even if you end up hating it or scrapping the idea, you could always re-purpose it (I don’t imagine you’ll be cutting it in half for the headboard idea.) You could always make a cool bench at the foot of the bed! Excited to see what direction you take it in 🙂

  6. I have the EXACT same problem trying to figure out what to do w/my own kilim! For now, it’s home is on the floor in our master closet. It looks great there, but I hate to have it hidden away for fear that it would get damaged in a main area of our home. The headboard idea is perfect. I don’t have the guts to cut mine though!

  7. AAkkkkk-NEITHER! I hope I caught you soon enough! Bench for at the foot of the bed. WAY too busy for a headboard with a window behind, and you love it-keep it in your space not the living area. Definitely a bench at the foot of the bed-you have to sit somewhere and put on your shoes!

    1. I completely agree. I thought it looked way to busy to be the headboard fabric, as well. The ottoman maybe, but i think the bench is a perfect idea.
      However, it is your decision and you have to do what works best for you.

    2. My first thought when I saw it was for a bench at the foot of the bed and I love the ottoman idea as well. For whatever reason, I can’t get behind it for the headboard – think I love your original color scheme for the bedroom!

  8. What about making a giant bolster pillow to lean against your headboard? You would still have that pattern up at the top of the bed, but would be able to use the pillow elsewhere or repurpose it when your decorating tastes change.

  9. Love the headboard idea and you could use the other fabric you ordered in another room. Another option is to use it on a side chair in the living room, one that isn’t right smack in the middle, but sitting in the corner, begging you to come sit and read. In fact, the red tufted chair you had would look awesome in a dark color and covered (non tufted) in that rug with a rich solid lumbar pillow to soften it.

  10. Not overly fond of this pattern. It does not seem “you” with the style of decorating you have mentioned wanting to do in this home. It may completely limit the style you want to do because it will be the focal piece. I vote for a non patterned headboard so you have so many more options for bedding and pillows.

  11. I absolutely love the headboard idea! It really does look quite amazing with the bed (which I’m dying over btw!). My only other thought was to use the rug on a bench at the foot of the bed (kind of like your ottoman but longer and skinnier?) – but maybe there’s not enough room.

  12. I like Miss Charming’s idea of a bolster pillow! That would make it really easy to use on the bed or really anywhere AND make cleaning it a breeze. I have three big hairy dogs, so how to clean something is always my top priority. 😀 Plus, however you use it, the colors will look great with the linen and navy color scheme you have planned for that room.

  13. I like the idea of using it for a headboard. Your decorating scheme for the master may change a bit but I don’t see that being a problem for you. : ) Other options I thought of when you were showing/telling are: covered bench at the end of your bed; a covered boot bench in your entryway; or upholstering a chair or ottoman in your (or Matt’s) soon-to-be office. The rug looks so beautiful with those colors that it could be the focal point of any room. Any of it beats sitting in a box.

  14. Absolutely ADORE the headboard idea – I think it is a most unique, special, and gorgeous color palette (sp?) to build the entire room around! Particularly with the amazing bed you built!!

    Only other idea I had for the kilim would be upholstering a bench with it; you’d have a larger piece to display on the bench than you might with an ottoman.
    Keep up the great work!!

  15. I love that you want to use this beautiful treasure that has such good memories attached to it. That is my favorite way to decorate a space. I think it looks great with your new bed and sets the stage for a masculine/wordly look. Love it!!!

  16. well we have seen the ottoman done many many times so I vote for the headboard since I have not seen that done. I know how much you loved the fabric for the bedroom you chose after much discussion so could you use that fabric in the living room? Sometimes don’t you wish you had an off and on switch for your brain? nancy p.s. love love love the bedframe outstanding job

  17. I like the headboard idea, too, but I think it would be lovely in the living room on an ottoman. You could stain the legs a deep rich stain that would complement the kilim, and you would enjoy it all day in the main part of the house, as well as your family and friends/guests. Another idea would be to use it on a bench that you could place at the end of your bed or near the front door. 🙂 Just my thoughts.

  18. I love both ideas! You are so creative. I think I’m leaning towards the ottoman idea though. You could still use it in the bedroom in you want (we have one at the end of our bed) but you could also move it to different rooms if your taste were to change.

  19. My first thought was to use it on a bench at the foot of your bed. I am sure however you decide to use it will be beautiful 🙂

  20. Hi
    I love the idea of using this rug that you love. I was loving the idea of using the rug for the headboard but then I changed my mind. I think the pattern is to busy and will limit you in both colour selections for your bedding now and in the future when you want a change. I think trying to cut the pattern to fit a headboard would be awkward as there is the border of the rug to consider leaving not much to actually work with. I would probably choose the bench idea. You could place a bench anywhere in your house. I also think you could do a runner for your table with place mats. Someone mentioned making pillows and Christmas stockings. That could work also. Having pets myself I know how often you have to change bedding and a patterned bed spread is a must if you have a patterned headboard then you would need a plain bed spread. Just my thoughts. I’m sure you’ll think of something great.

  21. I say go with the headboard and incorporate the nail head trim, I think it compliments the stained wood beautifully, you can always go with solid colors on the bed to down play the busy fabric, it has such a rich look the it just begs to be a focal point.

  22. If you used the kilim to upholster the headboard, would you be able to scotchguard it against hair oils? I agree that it is very beautiful, but I also agree with those who commented that it might lock you into a different decorating scheme than you originally planned. Of course, decorating plans often change! Perhaps it is the colors in the kilim that you like so well with the stained bed frame; but aren’t those same colors in the fabric you chose, only softer? Just a couple of thoughts for your consideration. Whatever you decide to do, I am confident that it will look fabulous!

  23. I love the plans you’ve already made for the bedroom so much! I’ve been waiting patiently to see it start to come together…don’t change on me now! lol! I think it would make a lovely upholstered bench to be used as a coffee table/ottoman in front of your sofa. You could put a wooden tray on one end -for knick knacks and a drink. You could sit back and put your feet up on the other end -ahh..relaxing and enjoy your kilim. 🙂

  24. I vote ottoman! I saw an example in a HGTV magazine of an ottoman that was covered using a rug. I immediately started looking for a throw rug to make one of my own. It would be fun to tell guests you made the ottoman out of a killim you bought in Turkey. I also think the colors of the killim are great for a family room/front room. Your bedroom colors and fabrics are amazing – I would not mess with them. Whatever you do it will look great!

  25. I really like the idea of reupholstering a chair but since it may not be enough “fabric”, I vote on a bench — either for the end of your bed or to bring a little wow factor to your entry/foyer.

    It’s quite disparate from your original bedroom plan and seems more southwest than your design esthetic. Your bed is such a lovely feature — I think your original idea of a solid linen will complement and “play nice” with the bed rather than upstaging it. I’m inclined to think a headboard covered in the kilim may take center stage.

    Finally, I think you’ll get tired of it as a headboard in your bedroom in a relatively short period of time. Maybe you should make and put it in the guest room – it’s a win win… you get to enjoy it as a headboard AND you get your original vision in the master.

    Whatever you choose, we will enjoy the process and the end results.

    1. My first thought was a bench, but I don’t think there is enough room in there for a bench at the foot of the bed. If it has to be in your bedroom, i would go with pillows and incorporate the tassles around the sides.That way, you will have more versitility in bedding if you have a solid headboard. I agree that the kilim looks a bit southwest in design (or maybe the colors?), not what you are really going for. BUT, I can imagine that you will make it beautiful with whatever you choose to do.

  26. Your fabric piece is so pretty and will look great in either way you decide to use it. It does look lovely with your new bed frame. I wanted to say how pretty your cat is. Really pretty.

  27. I’m going to go ‘way-out-there’ and suggest using it somewhere in your office. That way you would get to see the beautiful kilim, and also keep the gorgeous fabric choices you already have for your master bedroom. Maybe use for seating like a storage bench, or a guest chair in your office?

    BTW I think your bed is fab, love all the details and finish!

    1. I’m with Joanne and Anne. What type of bedding will you be using? How much of the actual bed frame will be visible? It has a lot of energy in the pattern – too much for a place where you go to rest and re-charge? Now that you know about the stain, you can use it on another piece that you find or make. Hate the thought of cutting it, but it’s your call. For me, part of the attraction is the way all the parts of the pattern work together. Will cutting it break up it’s energy? Whatever you do, have fun.

  28. As soon as I saw the picture of your kilim I immediately thought of your headboard. It is a perfect match. It’s goes beautifully with your bed but also the floors. I am glad you thought the same thing. I am all for using it to cover a headboard. Can’t wait to see what you end up doing with it.

  29. Like the headboard idea, but another possibility is to use it in your office…Perhaps an upholstered chair?
    I really loved the accent fabric that you had chosen and ordered, but his pattern is exciting too.
    I’m going to vote for using it in your office….it will be both stimulating in its pattern and soothing in its sentimental appeal to you.

  30. Yikes,
    I had scrolled down to add my comment before finishing all the others. Apparently Joanne & I had the same idea.

  31. I think it should go in the bedroom, either as a head board or a long bench at the foot of the bed. Then every time you walk in to the room it will be a lovely reminder of your time in Turkey. My husband and i have travelled alot and always only buy one good thing. This is your good thing, use it.
    Cheers from a hot Brissie.

  32. I think you will get very tired of it as a headboard. Make a bench out of it to go at the end of your bed. You could use the bench later on in other parts of your house too. The cat will love it on a bench.

  33. Hate the headboard idea! I think you’ll really, really regret it down the road when you want to spiff up your bedroom with different bed linens.

    Love the ottoman idea. Or: it looks like it’s big enough to make two big rectangular pillows. Try to figure out a way to incorporate the fringe into whatever you do with it, it really enhances the pattern.

  34. Headboard gets my vote. I worked for a year in Saudi Arabia. My most treasured acquisitions were carpets. When you think about how they are made, you just fall in love with the culture. Plus they will be a precious reminder of your life adventure. I would try securing into the headboard even if you had to frame it…..try not to cut it in anyway. Looks beautiful with your bed frame!

  35. I’d make large pillow covers out of it, then you could switch them out if you get bored, pull them out again another time. Like European pillows you can lean up against the headboard with, or make into an armed seating support pillow from. (one of those with arms). That way you can keep your original idea but switch the pillow covers out at will, and they will be big enough to make a strong statement. You might have enough left to make a small bench cover or valance as well that could be swapped out. I like to decorate differently in the warmer weather than in the colder (I live in Ohio).

    1. You could also use the European pillows for seating on the floor if kids come over or friends who don’t have enough seating space, such as for watching tv, etc.

  36. While it is striking, I would go with your original plan and colors. How about using it in another bedroom where you’d still use, see it and still be able to appreciate it? I think you would grow tired of it in your bedroom.

  37. I completely agree about using it in a new way! I still say use it on the ottoman! It’s durable and such a nice weight for that type of project! You could use the scraps for pillows!

  38. I can’t remember what shape headboard you were going to do but maybe you could cut enough off and make a small stool and do a headboard as well. That would pull the colors around the room or you could use it in another room. Just a thought.

  39. Not a fan of the headboard…I love the plan for the master bedroom that you already picked out. Loved the bench Idea… especially with the dark stained wood… but maybe in your office? Not in the bedroom. I mean I LOVED your original fabric and ideas. I think the Kilim is too busy for the bedroom. Put it in your Office!! It would make a great piece of furniture. But not a headboard… you may want to change it in 10+ years and then what?? You’ve ruined the fabric.

  40. the fabric you already bought is so luxurious; wait until it comes in before making your final decision. Although the kilim is stunning with the dark wood, the kilim headboard would look like two eyes at the head of the bead. I would make an office chair using the kilim and keep the random pattern new fabric headboard. You could then have the kilim as a living room chair, etc.

  41. You have wonderful taste, so I know whatever you decide will be good. It looks like a lot of people are mentioning making a bench for the foot of the bed, but I sure would hate to see that gorgeous bed hidden.

  42. Wow, that’s a gorgeous rug, and I think it would look beautiful as a headboard – it goes with the woodstain on the bedframe so well! However, how practical would it be as a headboard? How would you feel about being limited in your decorating around it with linens? I do like the idea of using it on a bench or ottoman, that way it can be moved around the house. What about just using it as a rug in your office? Would Matt be in there so often that having it in your office defeat the purpose of keeping it from under a wheelchair? If not, maybe using it as a rug in your office would be nice, at least to start. You can always reupholster a chair or an ottoman later.

    Whatever you do, you might want to get it away from your cats. I don’t know if your cats have claws or not, but my cats do. I brought home an aubusson rug and THE VERY FIRST THING that happened to it was my big cat shredded the back of it. Aubussons are flat woven like Kilims, they’re essentially floor tapestries, and I hadn’t even UNROLLED the carpet yet – it was still tied together and leaning against a wall. I walked out of the room for 5 nanoseconds, and came back to find shredded threads hanging off of it, and my cat using it as a scratching post. I screamed so loud, and I really wanted to tell kitty to either find a new home or get a job to pay for the damage to the rug, but ultimately the rug went into a closet and was never used because of the damage. Kitty is still in the house … and you should see what my sofa looks like. Ugh.

    1. So agree with Lor – I say, with your taste, it would be perfect as a headboard with nailheads around it. Because no matter what you do with it, either you will love it forever or want a change in the next decade.

  43. I think it will magnificent as a head board, particulary padded slightly and trimmed with timber complimenting the bed. If you do decide it will be too much in front of the window as a bedhead, you could always lay it across the foot of the bed like a throw. That would be my option if it was mine, but then I lean towards the simpler choices.

  44. The colors look so brilliant in the photo taken on the floor (the first photo) but kind of muddyish in the photo on the bed. Also, How does it look with the drapery fabric? I am an advocate of a relatively neutral headboard that you can pile patterned pillows against. But, Kristi and other dear readers, you have proven me wrong before when I had doubts so I will thoroughly enjoy watching this play out!

  45. I agree that a bench at the end of the bed gives you the most versatility. You could move it into the dining room for extra sitting or put it in any room you choose. As a headboard you are restricted.

  46. Another good idea is to use the fabric to recover a cute little accent chair for your new house. You could put it anywhere and move it around. That way, it wouldn’t interfere with your bedroom decorating plans.

  47. Clearly, I didn’t read the other comments before posting about an accent chair…sorry about that.

    So, I vote for a chair…LOL

  48. Is there enough fabric to make a headboard and ottoman out of your kilim, maybe by utilizing another fabric? (Refer to your three-fabric pillows) If you love it, I say get the most bang for your buck! Since you don’t mind cutting it, perhaps cut out the center section of the rug, and surround it with a coordinated fabric. I know you’ll come up with a brilliant idea!

  49. My husband and I are in Istanbul right now. We came over for a long week-end. I bought an antique kilim yesterday, and it’s going on the floor in our foyer. I love your headboard idea. We bought a kilim last time we were here, and it’s doing well in the upstairs hall. Save your remnants for throw pillows.

  50. Longing to know what you decided to do, Ottoman or headboard?. I found your blog when I searched ‘Kilim Bed Headboard’. I’m going to Istanbul in October and plan to bring one back with me to cover a headboard, although I’m slightly nervous about cutting into it.