8 Area Rug Do — s and Don — ts

8 Area Rug Do’s and Don’ts

Area rugs are a terrific alternative to wall-to-wall carpet, namely because they’re easier to remove and clean. They’re also less of a commitment, and it’s easy to switch one out if you get bored or want to redecorate. When it comes to using area rugs in your home, there are some important rules to remember. Before buying, check out these do’s and don’ts for decorating with area rugs.

Do Extend Rugs Under Furniture

When selecting an area rug, make sure that it extends under all the key pieces of furniture in the room. In a living room, for instance, all of the furniture should be on top of the rug. If this isn’t possible, it’s okay to have the front legs of major upholstered pieces on the rug and the back legs off. However, all the legs of smaller pieces should be on the rug.

In a dining room, the rug should be large enough for the chairs as well as the table. A good rule to follow is that the chairs should be on the rug, even when they’re pulled out from the table.

Don’t Skimp on Size

The number one mistake people make when decorating with area rugs is getting ones that are too small. This is understandable, especially when you see the price tags for some of the larger rugs. However, going big now will save you from replacing one that doesn’t work later. Besides, the cost of a rug is still lower than an entire room of carpet.

Do Leave Equal Space

Ideally, you should leave the same amount of floor space on all sides of your rug. Give yourself anywhere from about eight to 24 inches on all sides. Eighteen inches is the most common space, but in a smaller space, you can get away with as little as eight inches. The main goal is to have the rug centered in the room.

Don’t Go Too Small in the Bedroom

What good is an area rug if it doesn’t extend beyond the bed? You’ll end up stepping out onto a cold, hard floor in the morning, rather than a soft rug. Be sure to get your measurements right before you go shopping.

Ideally, the rug should be large enough to extend beyond the sides of the bed at least 12 inches for a twin or double bed, and at least 18 inches for a queen or king. You can go bigger, but these numbers should be the minimums you want to look for.

Do Cover High-Traffic Areas

Make sure that any heavily trafficked areas are fully covered by the rug you choose. When people are walking through, they shouldn’t have one foot on the rug and one foot off. It’s awkward, uncomfortable, and can lead to unusual wear patterns on both the rug and your flooring.

Don’t Be Afraid of Color and Pattern

Area rugs are a great way to inject playfulness and fun into the room, so embrace color and pattern while shopping. There are many inexpensive options available, so if you decide you don’t like it after a couple of years, it’s easy to change.

Do Know How to Clean It

Be sure to check the cleaning instructions on any rug before you buy it. Sisal, jute, and other natural fiber rugs are inexpensive, but they can’t be cleaned so you might have to replace them if there’s a big spill. Weigh your budget and your options before buying.

Don’t Place Your Best Rugs in Danger

While it’s tempting to place your best rug in a focal point of the house, such as your dining room, you might want to think twice about it. It’s best to avoid placing expensive area rugs in areas where there are likely to be spills and accidents.

Even though they’re easier to clean than broadloom carpet, it can still be difficult to remove stains from rugs. Keep this in mind, especially if you have children and pets. You can’t always control what your family does over the rug, so it may be best to go with inexpensive, easy-to-clean options in the more hazardous areas of your home.


10 Vegetables You Should Start Indoors

Even if you’re stuck inside you can still start preparing for your vegetable garden. Here are 10 veggies that work better if you start them indoors.

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Broccoli and Cauliflower

If you like broccoli or cauliflower, consider starting these vegetables inside. The Clemson Cooperative Extension notes these two vegetables are easy to transplant, so when the time comes to move them outside, they’ll be hearty enough to survive cooler soil temperatures.


Tomatoes are a favorite among gardeners and there is such a wide variety to choose from. The University of California Master Gardener Program notes tomatoes are a good choice for starting inside because they can be transplanted with few complications.

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Salad lovers rejoice! Texas A&M AgriLife says lettuces are a good option for transplanting because this crop can tolerate cooler soils, thus will continue to sprout even if the soil outside is cool during the late weeks of spring. Try starting a variety of lettuces inside and you’ll be eating salads from the garden long before your neighbors!


There are some vegetables that thrive in hot weather, and peppers—both sweet and hot—fall into that category. If you’re looking to grow peppers and don’t want to wait until late in the summer to enjoy them, start them inside. The National Gardening Association notes frost can damage pepper plants, so to combat this, get them started inside and wait until all danger of frost has passed before transplanting.


If you have access to fluorescent lights, the University of Maryland Extension suggests starting beets indoors. Beets are a good choice because as a root vegetable, they transplant well. The extension notes other good options for growing indoors with the help of fluorescent lights are kale, onions, leeks and beans.


The National Gardening Association says celery can be a challenging plant since it has such a long growing period—130 to 140 days of mostly cool weather. The association says it’s best to start celery seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost. When the seedlings reach 4- to 6-in. high, they can be transplanted to the garden a week or two before the last frost date.


Cabbage, a cool-weather-loving vegetable, benefits from a longer growing season, so start it inside four to six weeks before transplanting. Seed Savers Exchange says you can then transplant the cabbage seedlings outdoors, just before the last frost.


While cucumbers (shown above) don’t like to have their roots distributed, which can make them tricky to transplant, Burpee notes it’s worth the risk to start a few cucumber plants inside if this is one of your favorite garden vegetables. Whether you’re growing them for salads or for pickling, start cucumber seeds inside about three weeks before setting them outdoors. Just make sure the outdoor soil temperature is at least 60 degrees and all danger of frost has passed.


Because eggplant has such a long growing season, Seed Savers Exchange says it’s a vegetable that does well when started indoors. The company says it’s best to sow eggplant indoors seven to 10 weeks before transplanting outside, then transplant outside four to six weeks after the last frost, into a warm and sunny location. Make sure outdoor soil temperatures are at least 55° F before transplanting outside.


While you shouldn’t be in a rush to plant sweet corn in the garden, you can get a jump-start on the season by starting the seeds indoors. The National Gardening Association says you can start corn plants indoors in pots. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, transplant them to your designated garden spot. Just make sure to protect the seedlings from chilly nights by laying a floating row cover over them.


How to Renovate a House

Organize The Process and Save Your Sanity

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Judging by shows on DIY Network and HGTV, it takes approximately 24 minutes to renovate a house. Everyone knows this is not true, but this style of fast-shot remodeling presided over by glib hosts takes away from the core notion that home renovation is complex and difficult. A look at the major elements of a whole-house renovation will give you a sense of what’s involved.

1. Design and Planning

A sketch on a cocktail napkin, full-blown architectural plans, or just a firm set of thoughts about how the remodel should progress. It is cheaper and less frustrating to correct mistakes before the remodel takes physical form. Ensure that you have funding for your renovation.

  • Draw up a simple «yes/no» list of do-it-yourself projects and projects you want professionals to do.
  • Look for contractors and subcontractors for those jobs you do not want to do yourself.
  • Apply for permits.

2. Roof, Foundation, Water Issues, Siding, Windows

Roof replacement or repair; foundation fix; stopping water infiltration; installing or repairing siding and windows. Large projects must be done first because subsequent projects are impacted by them.

  • Protect your future renovation work by making certain the house won’t collapse on you (foundation, major structural problems) and that it will remain dry (roof, siding, windows).
  • Secure the foundation.
  • Make major foundation repairs to areas such as weakened walls, joists, and carrying beams.
  • Repair or replace the roof.
  • Replace seriously damaged windows that may threaten future remodeling work. If not seriously damaged, leave it for later in the process.
  • If the siding is so damaged that it will allow water infiltration, repair or replace the siding. If not seriously damaged, leave it for later in the process.

3. Demolition

Demolishing and disposing of sections of the house that will be replaced by later projects.

  • Rent a large container for waste.
  • Carefully demolish all or some of the areas of the house that will be renovated. Demolish as much as possible if you will not be living in the house.
  • Exercise caution when demolishing surfaces coated with lead-based paint.

4. Structural Carpentry

Carpentry that is in support of other work such as drywall, new or moved walls, windows, doors, etc.

  • Moving walls.
  • Constructing new walls.
  • Significantly enlarging the window openings.
  • Adding beams to support a greater weight upstairs.
  • Punching in new doors (or removing existing doors).
  • Adding new construction windows.

5. HVAC Ductwork, Electrical, and Plumbing

Vital services that need to be installed when the walls and ceiling are open.

  • With the walls and ceiling open, it is time for the HVAC company to install ductwork for central heating and air conditioning.
  • Run new electrical and plumbing systems. Electrical and plumbing inspectors will visit at this time, too.

6. Insulation

Laying the insulation in the walls and ceiling.

  • Install fiberglass insulation in the walls and attic.
  • Insulation goes fast, so make sure that your drywall company is ready to go soon after this.

7. Drywall

Closing up the walls with drywall: hanging it, mudding it, and sanding it.

  • A second inspection from the electrical inspector (and perhaps the plumbing inspector) will give you the go-ahead to close up the walls.
  • Drywallers hang sheets of drywall, apply drywall compound, and let the compound dry. After drying, they sand it smooth. Sometimes, they will repeat the process until they achieve a seamless surface.

8. Windows

Installing new-construction or replacement windows.

  • Window installation, whether whole-house or partial, almost always plays into a home remodel project.

9. Fine Carpentry

Carpentry that is not supportive: baseboards, molding, trim around windows and doors, built-in elements (bookcases, breakfast nooks, etc.).

  • Fine carpenters give your house that finished touch.

10. Interior Painting, Wallpaper, and Other Surface Finishes

Painting interior walls, hanging wallpaper, painting molding and trim, staining and sealing trim.

  • All of these detail-oriented surface finishes should be one of the last items you do indoors as this work can damage other work of yours.
  • Should you paint before installing or sanding your flooring or the reverse? This is debatable. Laying flooring first means that paint might get on the flooring. Painting first means that the floor sander may scuff your walls.

11. Flooring

Your final floor covering—laminate, solid hardwood, tile, engineered wood.

  • Installing the flooring as late as possible in the renovation process saves your flooring surface from significant damage.

12. Siding, Gutters

Exterior work on the outside of the house.

  • With the house mostly finished, it is safe to put on the siding. You do not want to do this earlier (unless absolutely necessary) because doors and windows may get punched out, ruining the siding.

13. Major Auxiliary Building

Any buildings that are detached from the main house.



If you asked Forrest Gump about removing carpets from floors, he might tell you: «Taking up carpet is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.»

The process of pulling up wall-to-wall carpeting is not all that complicated. It’s the floor that’s been underneath the carpet that can be a problem.

David Auten, owner of Piper & Auten Floor Sanding in Centerville, Ohio, said it’s possible that the wood floor under an old carpet is in good shape, but in some cases the floor is damaged, and in other rare cases there is no hardwood floor at all under the carpet.

Wall-to-wall carpeting is held in place with tack strips nailed to the floor around the perimeter of the room. A tack strip is a strip of wood about an inch wide with the pointed ends of tacks sticking up through it at a slight angle. The tack strips are nailed down close to the baseboards with the tacks pointing toward the wall and away from the center of the room. Carpet installers attach the carpet to the tack strip on one side of the room then stretch the carpet and push it down onto the tack strip near the opposite wall.

To remove the carpet, you cut a slit in the carpet near a wall, grip the carpet and pry it up off the tack points along one side. From there it’s a simple matter to roll up the carpet and haul it away.

You might find the carpet is heavier than you imagined, so you might need help carrying it out of the room. The padding under the carpet also is rolled up and removed, but it will be easier to carry.

Next, carefully pry up the tack strips while trying to avoid scratching the floor. Removing the tack strips will leave small nail holes in the floor. Wood putty the same color as the floor will conceal the holes adequately.

Sometimes the baseboards around the walls were raised to accommodate a thick carpet. They can be pried loose and reattached lower, or they can be replaced.

If the wood floors under the carpet are in good shape, they can be cleaned and used immediately, Auten said. He suggests using a paste wax and buffing the floors to a gloss. Floors with minor imperfections can be stripped or sanded and refinished. Professional sanding and refinishing costs about $2.50 per square foot, Auten said. Staining the floors to a new color costs about $3.50 per square foot, he added.

Some floors have dark stains, usually the residue left when pets urinate on the carpet. If the stains aren’t too deep, sanding may help. In other cases the boards must be removed and replaced by hand with matching boards—a costly process.

Occasionally wall-to-wall carpeting is laid directly on top of an unfinished subfloor. In such cases, the homeowner has the option of having a new carpet installed, installing a hardwood floor or installing a floor of some other material such as vinyl or ceramic tile.

— Removing outdoor carpet. Mark West, production manager for the Dayton, Ohio, home-remodeling company Remodeling Designs, said indoor-outdoor carpeting, which was popular about 20 years ago, was held down with adhesives. He said you can remove it working a flat object under an edge and peeling it back. You can also start the peeling by gripping the nap with a pair of pliers.

The removal probably will leave some glue residue on the concrete of the steps. West said the glue residue should come up with a glue-removal solvent you can find where paints are sold. A razor blade or wallpaper scraper may help remove stubborn deposits. The process might leave the steps with some stains or looking scratched up. A concrete stain (basically a paint designed for concrete) will give the steps an even appearance. Not many people seem to be using outdoor carpeting any more, but another option is recovering the steps with more carpeting.


Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia) Plant Profile

Sweet Alyssum is a delicate carpet of tiny flowers with a subtle, sweet scent. The low-growing foliage is covered by flowers for much of the growing season. Sweet Alyssum is very easy to grow, from plant or seed. It is a cool season flower that can be set out in early spring. In frost-free climates, Sweet Alyssum can also be grown throughout the fall and winter. Most varieties will fade in the heat but bloom again in the fall.

Botanical Name Lobularia maritima
Common Names Alyssum, Sweet Alyssum, Carpet Flower
Plant Type Sweet Alyssum is an annual plant, although some varieties are hardy in frost-free areas.
Mature Size Most varieties grow 4 to 6 inches high and 6 to 9 inches wide
Sun Exposure Sweet Alyssum plants will grow in either full sun or partial shade. They appreciate some shade during the hottest part of the day.
Soil Type They like rich, loamy soil
Soil pH Alyssum prefer a neutral soil pH
Bloom Time Flowers typically bloom from June through October. Some plants may continue growing all year long.
Flower Color Tiny cross-shaped, 4 petal flowers in white, pale pink and purple, clustered in rounded racemes. The leaves are narrow, lance-shaped, slightly hairy gray-green leaves.
Hardiness Zones Gardeners in USDA Hardiness Zones 7–11 may have plants that continue growing all year long.
Native Areas Native to the Mediterranean region and in France in the Bay of Biscay

How to Grow Sweet Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum is a nearly unmatched plant that is hardy to both heat and drought. It thrives in a wide range of regions across the United States. The flowers have a sweet, lively fragrance and are members of the mustard family. They will self-sow and can provide year after year of bright color, especially in milder climates.


Sweet Alyssum loves full sun, but it does not like prolonged dry periods. If your region is especially hot and dry, a slightly shaded area will work best for this plant. Take note of times of hot and dry weather, as the plant will need extra water.

The plant prefers loamy soil and when grown in gardens, it is usually as a ground cover. In natural settings, it is commonly found on sandy beaches and dunes. Alyssum can also grow on cultivated fields, walls, slopes, and even in cracks in sidewalks or walls.


To water the plant, provide at least an inch of water every week. Provide more water during hot or dry spells. Make sure the water drains well, otherwise the plant is susceptible to rot.

Temperature and Humidity

In temperate weather, gardeners may have plants that continue growing all year long, but they will be short-lived. Sometimes they self-seed so much that is seems as if the same plants are surviving when in reality, new seedlings are filling in. Sweet Alyssum plants repeat bloom, although many varieties tend to stop flowering in heat.


In-ground Sweet Alyssum plants should not need any fertilizer unless your soil is poor. Container alyssum plants will need more frequent water and monthly feedings. Use a water-soluble fertilizer for the container plants.

Growing From Seed

You can start Sweet Alyssum from seed or plant, although some new cultivars are not available as seed. Seedlings are widely available in nurseries, in the spring and often in the fall. To start Sweet Alyssum from seed, simply scatter the seed and press it down, so that it makes good contact with the soil, but it is still exposed to light. Keep the soil moist, until germination. Then water whenever the soil feels dry.

You can direct seed outdoors, once the soil feels warm to the touch. You can also start alyssum seed indoors, about 8 weeks before your last frost date. Do not transplant until after all danger of frost. Alyssum is somewhat frost tolerant, once established, but tender transplants are not hardy enough for frost.

Varieties of Sweet Alyssum

Common varieties include:

  • Easter Bonnet: An early blooming variety, in lavender or white
  • New Carpet of Snow: Low growing variety, covered in white flowers
  • Pastel Carpet: A blend of pinks, lavenders, and creams
  • Snow Crystals: Tidy, mounding variety with clear white flowers and good stamina
  • Snow Princess: A sterile hybrid, from Proven Winners, that stands up well to heat


Deadheading will keep the plants flowering. If you have a large drift of plants, shearing them by 1/3 would be an easier option than deadheading. They will set new buds quickly. Some varieties will readily re-seed themselves, but the plants tend to revert to the somewhat gangly species. Man of the newer hybrids, like Snow Princess, are sterile, but they have improved vigor and stand up to the heat better than those that put a lot of energy into setting seed.

Sweet Alyssum is a low grower that makes a wonderful carpet-like ground cover. As the plants spread, they will create a living mulch under taller plants. You can use Sweet Alyssum along edges, in the garden, or to fill nooks and crannies on walkways and walls. If you plant it near stone or anywhere that dries out quickly, you will need to provide some extra water. The tight, free-flowering plants are also great in hanging baskets and containers.

Pests and Problems

Sweet Alyssum is generally problem free. Aphids can become a pest, especially when the plants are under stress. The plants will do poorly in boggy soil or where drainage is a particular problem. It can get stem rot or leaf blight, especially when too much shade prevents the leaves and soil from completely drying out. Botrytis blight is also a known problem when the Alyssum grows in extremely wet areas.


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