by HELEN HILL / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

We’ve all heard flying magic carpet stories that conjure up images of exotic, faraway places. But, much nearer to home, Franco Oriental Rugs in Boca Raton, Florida, offers an Aladdin’s cave overflowing with exquisite treasures.

“Our rugs from around the world are true handmade works of art, each with its own personality,” says Victor Franco, owner of the family-owned and -operated store. “They have an important role in the décor of a home and reflect the personality of the owners.”

Franco has been in the rug business since 1986, building a reputation for helping customers make the perfect choice from his stock of quality Oriental rugs. He emphasizes the versatility of rugs for enhancing traditional room settings or modern, open floor plans where they can define an area.

The store is a destination for customers and designers from all over the United States, Europe and South America, and rugs can be shipped nationwide. He notes that while many customers are educated and sophisticated enough to know and respect rugs, he is happy to demystify the rug world for others. “I want buyers to understand quality so they know what they’re getting for their money,” he says.

Franco Oriental Rugs stocks a wide range of rugs in all sizes from around the world, ranging in age from 150 years to more recent creations; traditional-weave rugs dating back 100 or more years are a specialty. Amidst the treasure trove are one-of-a-kind pieces, and special orders are given special attention.

“We also have extremely well-made, hand-knotted rugs with abstract and contemporary designs to suit modern taste,” says Franco, explaining that a typical 9-by-12 rug with 150 knots to the square inch can take an average of three people 18 months to complete.

Customers are fascinated by the intricate designs and colors on classic and traditional patterned rugs in Turkish Oushak, Heraki 100 percent silk, and Kayseri silk and wool rugs. Persian rugs, woven in elegant designs in elaborate colors, come in myriad choices—Kerman, Serapi, Heriz, Sarouk, Kashan, Nain, Gabbeh and others. (According to Franco, Isfahan rugs are considered the finest.) Traditional Kasak rugs in brightly colored geometric patterns and Mahal classic floral designs in light colors come from Armenia, and Chinese rugs with art deco designs are favored for their distinctive look.

According to Franco, you don’t have to spend a fortune to acquire a handwoven, good-quality piece of art. A 9-by-12 rug can range from $2,800 up to $65,000 for a superb example. The average price falls between $3,500 and $10,000.

As for décor, Franco offers a special service to customers. “If you aren’t sure which rug will work best for you, we’ll bring a couple of rugs to your home to see what they look like in place,” he says.

Looking back over the decades, Franco recalls his unusual start in the business. He moved to the United States from Mexico as a teenager and got his first job sweeping floors and doing general duties in a local rug store. “One day, the store manager went out to lunch and didn’t come back,” he recalls. “As the only other person in the store, I was called on to take care of any customers and quickly made a sale.”

Enthused, he concentrated on learning the rug business as well as making basic repairs. Over the next dozen years, Franco studied every aspect of Oriental rugs and developed expertise in different cultures. “I loved it right away. Rugs became my passion,” he says.

Purchasing a rug from Franco doesn’t end the relationship. He wants customers to know that he stands behind the product as well as follow-up cleanings and repairs. The company’s professionals ensure skilled cleaning that brings out the rugs’ rich color and texture. The company’s workrooms specialize in renovating any rug, no matter how unique. Franco Oriental Rugs will also purchase antique rugs for its inventory.

There’s no doubt that Franco loves Oriental rugs and wants customers to feel the same way. “Fine rugs do more than cover your floor,” he says. “They showcase fine taste and an appreciation for beautiful, handcrafted creations.”

Helen Hill has lived in South Florida since moving from her native England two decades ago. When not writing for varied publications about her favorite lifestyle topics of design, architecture and real estate, she likes exploring local antiques and thrift shops, looking for fun collectibles and inspiration.