Rug & Weave: Like home away from home

BY CHRIS TIESSEN

‘Everything about this place is gorgeous,’ I remark. Then I whisper, only to myself, with a smile: ‘I’m pretty sure I’d live here if you’d let me.’ I step further into the space and revel in the details. The coarse brick walls and crude wood-slat ceiling – painted a brilliant white in defiance of their industrial past. The ample windows and exposed ductwork adding to the space’s condo chic aesthetic. So bright. And congenial. The perfect backdrop for showcasing beautiful things. Which are all around me.
Colourful vintage Persian rugs hand-woven in Iran. Pillows, throws and blankets made out of gorgeous vintage Moroccan and Turkish fabrics and created in-house. Handcrafted ceramic mugs and dishes. Carved wooden kitchen utensils. Beautiful handcrafted keepsakes that can transform any place into a spectacular living space.
‘I could seriously live here,’ my inner self insists.

And, after a second, demurs: ‘Or at least shop in this glorious showroom.’

‘It’s certainly taken us a ton of work to get this far,’ Sarah McBean tells me, referring to the space and the business that occupies it. Her business – and that of her husband, Svein. Rug & Weave. Located in a sprawling one-storey industrial building on York Road in Guelph. In what’s got to be the city’s hippest nook. A ragtag of industrial buildings joined over the decades by some sort of wizardry. Housing such fantastic local brands as mid-century modern furniture makers era66; husband-wife painting tour de force KIAM; craft beer wizards Royal City Brewing Co; the Grotto climbing gym; and more. ‘But,’ she adds, ‘we seem to be getting there.’

She’s underplaying their achievement, to be sure. Consider this: in a little over three years Sarah and Svein have grown Rug & Weave from an Etsy shop run out of their house to a juggernaut with several employees and a customer base that spans the globe. And this splendid space – which serves as a warehouse, production facility and the aforementioned showroom – is evidence of the company’s growth and success. Granted, things were not always this way.

‘This whole business started when we were renovating our house a few years back, and Sarah wanted a kilim rug for the finished bathroom,’ Svein begins – their little baby Finn perched on his shoulders. ‘We couldn’t locate just what she had in mind anywhere, until I found a woman selling them on kijiji.’ With a bemused look on his face, Svein continues: ‘As kijiji sales tend to go, I met her in a Starbucks parking lot where she had what seemed like a mountain of rugs in the trunk of her car.’ This is where the narrative moves into the realm of fairy-tale. ‘We ended up buying all her stash,’ Svein says ‘and, to make a long story short, took over the business. And,’ he adds, nonchalantly, ‘now we’re here.’

Here. In this alluring space. Large enough for this thriving business. For now, at least. I follow Sarah and Svein (and little Finn) from the showroom to the warehouse, which is bigger, and serves as an eclectic workspace. And home to semi-regular events that Rug & Weave have begun to host for clients – including yoga, weaving and kombucha-brewing workshops, and more. I look around the large space. Carly, the seamstress, is assembling pieces of bright patterned Turkish fabric for a pillow while Matt is reclined on an antique couch, working on a laptop. (While the Rug & Weave showroom is a real showstopper, the bulk of their business is in online sales.) Around a corner – near what seem to be mountains of rugs and fabrics – Julia and Kristina are taking a break from their work with a game of ping pong. The shop dog, Rico, is relaxing at Carly’s feet. Everything is so agreeable. And cozy.

Familial, even. Indeed, it feels like a happy home filled with wonderful people surrounded by beautiful things.

And this, I assume, is how it’s supposed to feel. After all, Rug & Weave is a business that’s all about transforming discrete architectural areas into spectacular living spaces. ‘Our goal here,’ Sarah tells me once we’re back in the showroom, ‘is to showcase what we do best – which is curating uniquely-arresting products that can elevate any home. Products that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. But that you can see, and feel, and smell, and purchase, here.’ I look around the showroom one last time and, palpably affected by the rich texture of it all, observe myself carefully assessing the dynamics of the space.

Looking for a place where I can fit a bed – for when I move in.

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