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Boring carpeting can be inescapable in cookie-cutter new builds and ’90s rentals—and replacing it with hardwood costs a pretty penny. The key to distracting from the beige is to treat it exactly the way you would any floor: Top it with a rug. Layering a rug on carpet introduces layers of welcome color and pattern—and the benefits keep on coming. Read on for seven examples we’ll be pulling from during our next moves.

Layer Textures, Not Colors

Neutral tones will always work together, which gives you freedom to play with material. Here, Jenny Kayne uses a thick shag that stands out from the solid flat-weave textile underneath.

Keep Guests Comfortable

Photography by Pippa Drummond; Styling by Elaina Sullivan.

Have more friends than chairs? Take to the floor with a high-pile (read: fluffy) area rug made extra-cushy with a sheepskin and pouf. Joyce Lee’s living room is lounge ready, no additional seating needed.

Designate a Work Zone

Photography by Brittany Ambridge.

Whether or not you have a separate home office, it’s important for both your mental health and productivity to have a set aside zone for your 9-to-5. Use a smaller rug underneath your desk to define when work starts, and play goes on pause.

Cover More Ground 

Photography by Cody Guilfoyle.

If you’ve ever shopped for vintage rugs, you know that sometimes falling in love with a certain pattern means compromising on sizing. To make an awkwardly small area rug work in a lofty space, opt for overlapping multiple coordinating weaves. Take a styling cue from Isadora Tang’s Brooklyn Loft, and break up bright hues with a white in between.

Disguise the Landlord Special 

Photography by Yuki Sugiura.

If you live in a rental, odds are your super isn’t going to sign off on tearing up the wall-to-wall carpeting they spent money installing. Like Katherine Ormerod did in her London apartment, layer a bright neutral area rug to distract from the dingy foundation. 

Avoid Muddy Messes

Photography by Cody Guilfoyle. Cody Guilfoyle

In a high traffic mudroom or entryway, lay down a flatweave for cozy coverage, then add a more durable style (like a natural jute) to pick up the dirt and debris. Bonus points if the piece is machine washable. 

Appoint It the Only Color Moment

Photography by Cody Guilfoyle.

In order to add just enough visual interest to an all-white hallway, place a colorful shibori runner over a cream-toned base. When your mood inevitably changes, switching it out is easy peasy.

This story was originally published in February 2019. It has since been updated.

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