Decorating the Fifth Wall – Voice Tribune Article
When decorating a home, most attention is projected to the walls for artistic expression, and yet, even the perfect painting or well executed collage can leave a room feeling incomplete. One need only cast their eyes downward, as the floor you walk on can be an ideal canvas for one of interior design’s most timeless pieces: the Oriental rug.
Fran Jasper, owner and operator of Frances Lee Jasper Oriental Rugs, has extended her expertise to Louisvillians from her firehouse-turned-store/gallery for nearly four decades. Located in the heart of The Highlands where Bardstown Road meets Cherokee Parkway, her stunning selection and customer-centric business approach make finding the right Oriental rug a truly personal experience.
Considered by many to be unattainable for their high price tags, the right rug under appropriate budget consideration can add warmth, dynamism and class to any room. “Oriental rugs are handmade, unlike many other floor coverings that are made by machine,” she explains. “Machine-made can be quite pretty, but they’re not considered a work of art. I consider the weavers of our Oriental rugs to be at the top of their profession.”
Because of their uniqueness and detail, it only makes sense that an Oriental rug is more art than mere floor covering, and by proxy, an investment. “I’ve always had a passion for art, and that is really what our rugs represent,” Jasper illustrates. “Oriental carpets achieve their beauty through the artist’s choice of color and design. What is so great is there is always a surprise here or a change of color where you wouldn’t expect it.”
Jasper has devoted her career to beautiful textiles, bringing rugs from sources like India, Turkey and Morocco to Louisville homes. “Whether you choose contemporary rugs in trending colors or the one-of-a kind antique rugs for a more traditional effect, all rugs are sourced from reliable domestic or foreign dealers and marked with our guarantee of satisfaction.”
Prices fall across a wide spectrum from $250 to $90,000 for a single rug. Unlike mass-produced options, however, their value comes from far more than spill tolerance or vacuum compatibility. “Look for a rug’s design and judge that for its value,” Jasper encourages. She notes that the individual weavers behind the finished product are respected for their talents not unlike any other artist who’s mastered their craft. “Often, four or five weavers come together to form a single rug, which is why you do not see a signature on the best examples of the textile arts.”
In 1980, Jasper brought her background in interior design and appreciation of art for the “fifth wall” to the storefront many would recognize today as
a Highlands institution. She proudly recounts that the original firehouse opened in 1900 to accommodate the growing neighborhoods nearby, but migration to the suburbs rendered it obsolete in the ’70s. Saved from demolition, it was eventually put up for bid in a closed auction, and that’s when Jasper bet her luck.
“Four months later, after a lot of sweat and tears, I opened Frances Lee Jasper Oriental Rugs,” she says. “One year as birthday present, my brother bought the St. Joseph’s hospital spiral staircase and installed it in the center of the shop so we could access the ‘gallery’ upstairs. You can still see the staircase when you walk in the store today.”
That same appreciation for the unique translates to Jasper’s interactions with customers. Since the right Oriental rug varies by its intended placement, “we learn where the rug is to be used, the room’s function and your budget,” she says. “Then a selection of rugs is pulled from our vast inventory for your consideration.” Customers can go home with this carefully curated selection of several rugs to try out and choose from.
Once you have the right rug, Jasper recommends cleaning them every few years, and any sign of wear should be addressed immediately to avoid larger damage. “If you protect your investment with good care and cleaning,” she advises, “they can be passed down for generations.”
Ultimately, the decision of whether an Oriental rug has a place in your home comes down to the desire for a floor covering that does more than cover the floor. These pieces intrinsically draw the eye’s attention and add character. “The more you look, the more interesting it becomes.”
Written by KELLIE DOLIGALE
Photos by BILL WINE