By Vivienne McCarthy
To enter this genie’s bottle of an emporium which is the work of Oriental rug purveyor Roy Maloumian and decorator Jeffrey Dean Soulges is to embark on a dizzying but delicious ride through an array of aesthetic influences and centuries of rug weaving. All of it is wrapped in the unassuming structure known as Kilim, which opened two months ago on the southwest corner of Germantown and Willow Grove Avenues.
The word kilim, from the Persian “gelim,” which describes a flat tapestry-woven carpet, is an appropriate moniker for a store packed with beautiful kilim rugs and accessories such as, bags, wall hangings, briefcases, piano benches, floor pillows and hassocks, all of them hand woven and full of symbolism. Kilims, which might be referred to as the real magic carpets, come in all the colors of the rainbow, and it is a tradition that the designs and patterns should be harmonious. It is also a hallmark of vegetable-dyed kilims that every rug’s color is unique. It is no surprise that the kilim, or the Oriental rug, should be the starting point when decorating a home. After all, over 150 years ago Edgar Allen Poe wrote, “The soul of the apartment is the carpet.” He meant that the carpet is the foundation of the décor, and all else flows from it. That still resonates today.
Kilims are thought to be Central Asian in origin, but they are also produced in places such as North Africa. Most kilims are made from wool or from wool and cotton and are easy to take care of, as well as being reversible. Many are used as wall hangings, as featured in the Germantown Avenue store. Not to be confused with Dhurrie rugs, which are usually pastel in color, made of cotton and often geometric in design, kilims are a riot of joyful colors and textures that add richness to every décor.
Owner Roy Maloumian has been in the rug business all his life. His Armenian grandfather opened the family’s flagship store in 1927, which takes up 10,000 square feet on 231 West Mt. Pleasant Ave. in Mt. Airy, where thousands of rugs are discounted every day.
“I am the third generation of Maloumians to carry on the tradition,” he said. “Some months ago I decided to bring a different and more affordable carpet to Chestnut Hill. Something that had not yet been featured. Kilims are very taste-specific, kind of whimsical with both a traditional and contemporary appeal which can fit any lifestyle.”
Maloumian, who also has a showroom in Fort Myers, Florida, has become the U.S. State Department’s resource for the Oriental rug needs of American embassies. To that end he has shipped rugs to U.S. embassies in China, Vatican City, South America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa.
He also repairs and restores Oriental rugs and kilims.
Sharing space with Maloumian and adding design alchemy to the store is local interior decorator, Jeffrey Dean Soulges. With a bachelor’s degree from Vassar followed by architecture studies at Drexel, Soulges is on hand every Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to sell kilims or his own design services. He began selling rugs for Maloumian in the early ‘80s and during that time decided to embark on a career in interior design.
Soulges’ projects range from slip-covers and window treatments to fully completed rooms and typically include architectural drawings. He also does thematic design and plant specifications in his garden work.
Kilim, at 7946 Germantown Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. More information at 215-247-3535 or www.RoysRugs.com or for Dean, Jeffreydeanltd.com or 215-248-5555.