You may be tempted to think of area rugs as old-fashioned, boring, or purely utilitarian, but nothing could be further from the truth. Here are a few simple tips for tapping into the functional and beautiful potential of rugs that you may never have considered before.

Hanging out
One of the most basic but effective tricks you can try is simply to move the carpet off the floor. After all, what's stopping you from making it into a work of art? This type of wall hanging is essentially a tapestry, but you can modernize this idea by choosing a rug in a bright, solid color or with a vivid pattern to liven up a sleek, contemporary space. Feel free to hang multiple rugs together in an interesting pattern, or turn them at unusual angles. You can use a rod to hang them by their top edge to create a tapestry effect.

When deciding where to place a rug, the sky's the limit - or maybe just the ceiling. Turn your room upside down by covering your ceiling with a carpeted checkerboard or other design. Wherever you decide to decorate, make sure the color and style of your rugs complements your curtains, blinds and shades.

Taking a seat
Once you're done carefully arranging your new wall art, you'll probably want to sit down for a minute. What better place to rest than a rug? This may sound strange and uncomfortable, but keep in mind that rugs have been used as seating around the world throughout history. A small pile of rugs makes a surprisingly cushy seat perfectly suited to a low table or a kid's corner.

Alternately, you can use carpeting to put a new twist on preexisting furniture. This can be as simple as placing a few rugs on top of a wooden bench as cushioning, or as elaborate as using them to reupholster the seat or back of a chair.

Making the old, new
Even the best rugs may eventually start to wear out. This gives you a great opportunity to update your style with something new, but that doesn't mean you need to throw out the old one just yet. Old rugs are perfect for projects that require you to cut them apart, which you may be reluctant to do with one you've just bought.

Cutting a rug down into placemats, for example, is one option for repurposing the rug. The fabric is very durable - you're meant to walk on it, after all - so this could be a great way to protect your table from kids and other messy eaters. They're also ideal for dining outside.