By Kerrie Kelly, ASID

By the time we meet them, many of our clients have heard so many conflicting opinions about the “rules” of interior design that they find themselves unable to make any decisions at all. Carpets and rugs are design elements that people have particularly strong opinions about. When you get to that point, it’s time to start breaking some rules!

Home offices are tough rooms to work with because they’re often a mish-mash of design styles, hand-me-downs and leftovers waiting to be replaced — or a part time guest room, yoga studio and office all in one. The rule we need to break here is thinking of a rug as a giant block of solid color that needs to coordinate perfectly with everything in the room. Instead, let’s think about rugs in terms of what design challenges they can solve in a room so traditionally fraught with design issues.

We’ve got six ways to help you think your way through to a decision.

1. Brighten It Up

In a home office, our instinct is often to generate a sense of serenity to help keep us focused, so it’s with good reason that we tend to keep colors and textures in the office fairly muted. A pop of color, however, can really energize the space — and you. That’s not just an interior designer talking. Psychological study after study shows that color has a significant effect on mood and energy. Design your home office for serenity and energy and work those muted tones to keep the visual clutter at a minimum, but add bursts of color to help keep you moving till the job is done.

2. Indulge Your Inner Softy

Remember that balance between serenity and energy I mentioned? Another way to achieve that is to soften the hard edges that often develop naturally in the design of a home office. Our desire to be organized often leads to some rigid design choices — and a rug can really balance that with some texture at floor level. Work that clean line and soft edge effect with a rug large enough to remain under foot anywhere you’re standing, but that allows the hard surface below to border the softness to help you define the space.

3. Keep It Down!

Studies show that the main cause of distraction at work is noise. Rugs not only provide sound proofing for noise coming into and leaving your home office, but also absorb sound so it doesn’t feel like you’re trying to make your deadline from the middle of crowded coffeehouse.

4. Bring the Outdoors In

Like adding color or texture, adding a more organic element to an otherwise cold and utilitarian space can create a much more pleasant space to spend time in — a quality you want in the room where you need to get a lot done. Choose rugs made of jute, sisal or seagrass, which are available in many more styles and sizes than they once were, and are much more durable and comfortable than you might think. Add a border of color in twill or leather and you have just upped the custom aesthetic.

5. Anchor the Space

If you’re like most of our clients, the home office is the last room on your home’s makeover schedule. A great first step in your makeover plan for the office is to find a rug that anchors the space visually through interesting texture or pattern. Work to find a color and texture that complements what you’re working with and that distracts your visitors from the assortment of elements sitting on top of the rug. A bright or bold color will work hard by directing your eye and giving the room a clear sense of visual direction-even if it hasn’t yet determined its destination.

6. Pull the Space Together

Another tactic for dealing with a, shall we say, “eclectic” design scenario in your home office is to begin pulling the room together by starting at the bottom and working your way up. Choose a rug that represents the design direction you’re headed in, and your design plan for the room gets much simpler. If you really are working to bring together very different styles in the room, avoid patterns, and stick with a solid color or texture that makes a statement about where you’re headed.

How are you using rugs to solve the design issues in your home office?

You can view Home Depot’s selection of rugs, including area rugs online.