Category: Interior Design

Quick Tip: Carpet Recycling

Carpet recycling keeps bulky waste out of landfills and provides the material for a range of sustainable products, including new carpet.

Did you know that if it’s made of nylon 6, your old carpet can be recycled? Over 200 million pounds of old carpet is saved from landfills every year through the recycling of nylon 6. Through a process of deep polymerization and purification, nylon 6 can be re-harvested and reused in new carpet.

For more on carpeting, consider:

Bob Vila Radio: Recycling Carpet
Carpet Tiles Combine Convenience and Fashion
What Would Bob Do? Removing Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Bob Vila Radio: Removable Wallpaper

If your home isn't quite ready for the daunting task of permanent wallpaper, consider removable wallpaper as a happy compromise to decorate the walls.

Wallpaper brings color, pattern, and texture to a room. A papered room can achieve a sophistication that eludes even the sharpest paint job. But papering is a lot of work, so once a wall is papered, you’re committed to it for a while.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON REMOVABLE WALLPAPER or read the text below:

Removable Wallpaper


Fortunately, nowadays there are plenty of stylish removable wallpapers to choose from. These peel-and-stick coverings are great for renters, for commitment-phobes, and for homeowners who like to change their decor with the seasons. Typically sold in rolls, though sometimes as tiles, removable papers can be repositioned over and over again. Note that this isn’t a cheap option; many removable papers cost more than permanent ones.

Although temporary paper is easier and less messy to hang than traditional wallpaper, you’ll still need to take some time to hang it straight. Removable wallpaper can be used on most surfaces, but it won’t mount properly on textured walls. If you’re new to the product, try to check out some samples in person so you’re comfortable with the texture and finish. Look for PVC-free paper, not vinyl, and be sure the product is labeled lead-free and nontoxic. You still might want to air the product out for a few days before you install it to reduce any odor.

And if you find even temporary wallpaper a little too daunting, there are plenty of removable murals and decals out there to bring a little small-scale excitement to your walls.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

Bob Vila Radio: Vintage Wallpaper

Before committing to multiple rolls of vintage wallpaper, make sure you know exactly what, and how much, you're getting for your money.

Maybe you’re just itching to find a Space Age, geometric wallpaper pattern to complement your green Formica table. Or you’re dying to line your hallway with 1970s-era black flocked paper. Vintage wallpaper to the rescue!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON VINTAGE PAPER or read the text below:

Vintage Wallpaper


These days, thanks to the Web, actual wall coverings from the past century are easier to track down than ever before. Several large online retailers, as well as smaller sellers, deal in vintage papers. This is a boon for old-house aficionados, but before you make the vintage plunge, educate yourself.

Before you buy, make sure that you can obtain enough rolls of paper to complete your job. If possible, confirm that your rolls are from the same dye lot. If you do find a pattern you love, just not enough of it, don’t despair. Maybe just wallpapering a single wall or an artfully framed panel will create the effect you’re looking for.

If you’re ordering online, remember that colors rendered on your screen don’t necessarily match the actual paper. Many retailers will provide a small sample on request.

Know what you’re getting into. Most vintage wallpapers really are paper, not vinyl. They may not be colorfast, they may be easily ripped, and they don’t come prepasted. You’ll need to use wheat paste or other appropriate adhesive; check with the seller. If you’re not up for the challenge of selecting and hanging the real thing, look for vintage and historic reproductions. But, as with true vintage wallpaper, expect to pay a premium.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

Step Up Your Home’s Comfort with These Simple DIY Projects

Add more comfort at home this weekend with one—or all—of these easy do-it-yourself projects.

Home Comfort


While it might be true that a home’s primary purpose is to keep us safe from the elements, equally desirable is that it keep us comfortable. From sinking into the perfect sofa at the end of a long day, to resting in a heavenly bed at night, to sitting in an inspiring sun-drenched spot enjoying breakfast—every square inch of our home should relax, restore and refresh us. Aside from choosing comfy furniture, there are several DIY projects you can do to ensure your home is as comfortable as possible.

When you think of being comfortable, your eyes might not be the first things that come to mind. But poor or harsh lighting in your home can lead to eyestrain, headaches and general discomfort. Do a room-by-room “lighting audit” of your home to ensure that you have gentle but strong illumination where you need it most.

Lamps on sofa end tables provide a diffuse glow to the room while offering bright enough light to read by. A multi-light fixture above the bathroom sink with full-spectrum light bulbs can help with daily tasks like shaving or applying makeup. Under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen keeps the overall glare down, but focusses the light where you need it the most. Small LED reading lights can be mounted above each side of the bed for just the right spot of light that won’t keep your sleeping companion awake. Motion-sensor night lights, front porch lights and garden lights provide safety and peace of mind and let you move around your home more comfortably.

Home Comfort - VTech Audio Video Doorbell

VTech's 2-Handset Audio Video Doorbell

When you’re snuggled on your super-comfy sofa, in your super-comfy clothes, watching your favorite TV show at night, the last thing you want to do is get up and answer the doorbell (especially if your super-comfy clothes aren’t really fit for visitors). Enter the VTech IS7100 Series Audio/Video Doorbell Phone. When the bell rings, just pick up one of your cordless handsets and a picture of the person at the door will be displayed on the 1.8-inch full-color LCD screen. Still don’t feel like getting up? Push a button and you can have a one-way video of the visitor at the door while talking to them (and don’t worry if it’s dark out, the doorbell camera has night vision!).

Remember the IS7100 is also phone, so you can stay put even if you get a call. And if answering the bothersome at the time, your callers can leave a message on the built-in answering machine.

You might not feel that having a messy countertop contributes to discomfort, but get it all organized, and you’ll naturally feel better every time you walk in the room. Consider hanging shelves to put smaller items like coffee grinders, toaster ovens and blenders still within reach, but off of the valuable counter space. Retrofit your cabinets with pull out bins, baskets and divided racks in both the kitchen and bathroom to keep even your hidden clutter organized. In the bathroom, use suction cup holders on the shower walls to get shampoos and messy soaps off the edges of the tub and think about using the over-door and over-toilet areas for extra storage. In the bedrooms and living room, use storage ottomans that provide comfy seating while hiding items away inside. The more you can put away, the less you’ll have nagging for your attention and the more you’ll be able to relax.

ceiling fan


Ceiling fans offer one of the best ways to control your climate without having to resort to power-consuming air conditioners. If you already have overhead light fixtures, swapping them for a ceiling fan is a simple DIY project you can do in a few hours. Not only can ceiling fans cool a room on warm days, but they can be used in the winter on reverse to recirculate warm air back into the room for improved comfort.


This post has been brought to you by VTech. Its facts and opinions are those of

Bob Vila Radio: Decorating with Mirrors

Decorate with mirrors to brighten the dark spaces in your home and to make the smaller ones appear larger.

Small restaurants have known this trick for years—covering one entire wall with a mirror instantly doubles the size of the space, at least visually. Decorating with mirrors, when done well, can add light, space, and drama to any room.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON DECORATING WITH MIRRORS or read the text below:

Decorating with Mirrors


A mirrored wall or large-framed mirror works extremely well for brightening up a dark hallway or a small room. Just hang or install the mirror facing a doorway or window to catch whatever light is available and reflect it back into the space. In a dining room, a well-placed mirror can reflect candlelight from the table, creating a truly dramatic effect.

Mirrors tend to be heavy, so if you’re hanging a framed mirror, be sure to screw your picture hanger into a stud and not just drywall or plaster, and be sure the picture hanger you choose is rated for the weight of the mirror.

Frameless mirrors, like those used to cover an entire wall or a portion of a bathroom wall, can be glued to the wall using a special mirror adhesive. (Don’t use regular adhesive, which can destroy the backing—you’ll end up with a shattered mirror all over the floor one day.) It also helps to use special suction cups to hold the mirror safely while you position it and press it against the wall.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

Bob Vila Radio: Using Less Furniture

When we move into a new home, we usually look for space for existing furniture, and then go hunting to fill you've the first step is usually to get rid of things, not buy more of them.

Many of us don’t have the luxury of really “decorating” a room—we move into a home and place our furniture as best we can. But as time and budget allow, it’s a great idea to take a critical look at each room with an eye toward really making it work. It doesn’t have to be costly. In fact, the first step is usually to get rid of things, not buy more of them.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON USING LESS FURNITURE or read the text below:

Using Less Furniture


That’s right—one of the most common mistakes that people make when putting a room together is trying to cram too much into it. A room with too much furniture can create a cramped, uncomfortable feeling. The simple act of identifying one piece you don’t absolutely need is sometimes all it takes to make an awkward room more usable.

Also consider the size of your furniture—the huge sofa that was perfect in your previous home may not be the right size for your current one. When it’s time to replace it, consider downsizing to a more compact style, or even a loveseat. Two loveseats facing each other can make for better conversation than a large sofa at right angles to chairs.

Finally, do your best to eliminate clutter—even the most spacious room in your home will feel cramped if every surface is covered with photos, decorative items, and a week’s worth of mail!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

What Would Bob Do? Removing Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Bob Vila answers a reader's question about removing wall-to-wall carpeting. To submit a question of your own, visit the Forum!

How to Remove Carpet


I am moving to a new house where the living room and dining area have wall-to-wall carpeting. I asked the previous owner, and he told me there is hardwood flooring underneath. Could you please tell me how to remove carpet?

Even with regular vacuuming, carpeting accumulates a great deal of dust, dirt, and debris. So if and when you finally decide to rip it up, be sure to give the floor covering one last good vacuuming. Empty the room of furnishings, open the windows, and don your dust mask—then get to work!

- Large contractor trash bags
- Nail puller pliers
- Steel putty knife
- Flat pry bar (at least 15″)
- Hammer
- Utility knife (or tin snips)
- Leather work gloves
- Carpet padding adhesive remover (optional)
- Scraper (optional)

Was your carpeting installed under shoe molding? Assuming it was, the first thing to do is remove that trimwork with your putty knife and pry bar. Check the molding for damage: If it remains in good shape, save it for reuse. Chances are the trim is full of nails; when pulling them out, take care not to inflict any avoidable damage. If the molding looks a little worse for wear, consider giving it a fresh coat of paint prior to reinstallation.

Now that there is no obstruction between you and the carpeting, use a utility knife or a sharpened pair of tin snips to cut the material into three- or four-foot-wide strips. (Cut all the way through the backing but stop short of the flooring beneath.) Once done, begin pulling the carpet away from the tack strips on the perimeter. Roll up the sections as you remove them, placing them into heavy-duty trash bags ready for disposal.

Related: Bob Vila Radio: Recycling Carpet

Go to work on the tack strips, which are typically nailed to the floor and have rows of staggered tacks that face up to “grab” the carpet. Because the tacks are so sharp, it’s wise to wear leather work gloves at this stage. Insert the hooked end of your pry bar under a tack strip, then press down on the long end to lift the strip. Place all strips within rolls of carpeting, so the tacks can’t tear through the plastic garbage bags.

The final step is to remove the carpet padding. If it has been installed with adhesive, laborious scraping may be necessary, or you can try a commercially available adhesive remover. If the padding has been stapled into place, you can rely on nail puller pliers to do the job without gouging your floor surface. Note that before being able to grab the nails with pliers, you might first have to coax them a little with a putty knife.

To submit a question of your own, visit the Forum!

7 Ways to Make Your Dorm Room a Home Away from Home

For busy college students, ideal dorm room ideas deliver the most functional or decorative impact with the least investment of time.

Dorm Room Ideas


In her book, Speed Decorating, interior decorator Jill Vegas offers tips and tricks for anyone interested in putting together a beautiful space—quickly. Low fuss is always a plus, but for college students in particular, the concept of fast-pace design holds special appeal. While undergraduates want to live in fun and functional surroundings, their favorite dorm room ideas are usually those requiring the least time to implement.

Related: 10 Honor Roll-Worthy Dorm Room Storage Solutions

“The beginning of the academic year is the perfect time to create an ideal living environment,” says Vegas. “College is about following your dreams, so why not live in a dream room?” Read on for expert advice aimed at helping you transform the blank canvas of your dorm room into a personalized home away from home, custom-tailored to your daily needs and sense of style.


1. Pare Down to Essentials

Dorm Room Ideas - Pare Down


According to Vegas, “The best way to make a space inviting is to include only items that you love.” Instead of packing up every miscellaneous knick knack from your bedroom back home, Vegas recommends that you “carefully edit your essentials, so you don’t clutter your dorm room with stuff.”


2. Begin with the Bed

Dorm Room Ideas - Bedding


The focal point in most dorm rooms, the bed is the best place to direct your initial burst of decorating zeal. ”Ideally, the bed should be able to pull double duty as a place not only to sleep, but also to read, study, and lounge,” says Vegas. “In addition to bedding, choose three to seven accent pillows to finish the look.”


3. Color Coordinate Your Desk

Dorm Room Ideas - Organized Desk


“Start with a fabulous desk lamp,” Vegas suggests. “You’ll want something stylish and very functional for late-night reading.” After that, move on to the accessories. “Pick one accent color and purchase your desk items in that color. If you prefer a neutral palette, stick with natural tones like ivory or white.”


4. Personalize Your Walls


Create an accent wall with framed photographs of family and friends. “Collect an assortment of inexpensive frames from thrift stores and yard sales, then unify the look by spray painting them all in your favorite color. A gallery wall like this is a great way to add color to the room while making it feel more like you.”


5. Don’t Ignore the Floor

Dorm Room Ideas - Flokati


A small accent can make a large impact on your level of comfort. “You’ll definitely want a cozy rug by your bed,” Vegas says. “I like a plush sheepskin or a similar style that feels like you’re stepping on a cloud. It can also function as a throw if you’d like to put it over your desk chair for an extra layer of comfort.”


6. Keep It Neat


Liberate your dorm room from attention-stealing disorder by placing your possessions out of sight and into trunks or storage boxes. “Make sure everything has a place,” Vegas urges. “I prefer clear boxes that allow you to see what you have.” Save floor space by situating storage containers under the bed or in the closet.


7. Involve Your Roommate


“Share your design ideas with your roomie and listen to his or her ideas, too,” Vegas concludes. “It’s a great way to learn how to collaborate and to create a space that is a celebration of your new adventure at school.”


For more on Speed Decorating, including online decorating classes, visit Jill Vegas.

Track Lighting 101

Whether you live in a contemporary high-rise or suburban ranch, track lighting is sure to provide dramatic and enhanced illumination to any room of the house.

Track Lighting


In the evolution of illumination—from torches to torchiers—track lighting is a relative newcomer. While originally used in galleries, museums, and commercial installations, track lighting has become a popular choice for many homeowners today, regardless of whether they live in a sleek, contemporary dwelling or rustic, country cottage.  And with good reason. Track lighting can add drama and a modern aesthetic everywhere from the bathroom to the finished basement, and is relatively affordable and easy to install. Here’s all you need to know to bring the flexibility and flair of track lighting to your home.

What Is It?
Track lighting is very much what it sounds like: a track that screws into your ceiling and provides power for a series of independent lights that are suspended from it. Lights can be placed anywhere along the track and directed in a variety of angles. Track lighting is great for calling attention to a specific workspace, piece of artwork, doorway or architectural detail.  If, however, you are looking for general illumination to light up an entire space, a standard ceiling fixture will cast a more dispersed glow.

As with most home lighting, there are two basic types of track lighting systems: line voltage and low voltage. Line-voltage systems use the standard electrical wires and current in the home, which provides 120 volts to the fixtures. These type of track lighting installations tend to use incandescent spot lights or flood lights and have the largest light fixtures. Low-voltage systems have a small transformer built in which takes the current down to 12 volts, allowing the system to use a greater variety of bulbs and light fixtures; often much smaller than line voltage lighting, but equally as bright. Low-voltage track lighting bulbs also last longer, getting about 2-3,000 hours versus the 700 to 1,000 hours a line-voltage bulb will get. In the case of low-voltage LED systems, the lights can last an impressive 10,000 to 100,000 hours.

Track Lighting - Kitchen Installation


Types of Tracks
The most basic type of track lighting systems are those that consist of a straight line- voltage track that holds the lighting fixtures. These tracks can come in one of three configurations: H, J or L style, which refers to the way in which the track is shaped internally. When buying new track lighting or replacing fixtures along an existing track, make sure the lights you choose match your track style.

Another popular system is the monorail track. This can come in a variety of styles, but at its most basic, consists of a custom-formed track from which lights are suspended. So if you have a curvy kitchen island, for example, you can get a monorail system that would follow its contours. There are pre-formed monorail systems, those you can flex yourself (called flexrail) and those that are dropped down from the ceiling via a series of connectors (called suspended monorail). There are also two-circuit monorail systems that allow you to work some lights with one switch and others with a second switch. In such a system, you could have one circuit operate spotlights aimed at particular areas while another could light pendants for dispersed ambient light.

The lights that sit along the rail in a track lighting system are known as track heads and are available in styles as wide as those found for ceiling fixtures. You’ll find spot lights, drop-down pendants with gorgeous glass shades, flexible-arm track heads, and much more. If you already have a track lighting system in your home, you can refresh it by just swapping out the track heads; just make sure you purchase new lights at the correct voltage and for the same style track.

If you already have a ceiling light fixture, track lights are easy to install. Simply remove the old fixture, screw the track into the ceiling using toggle bolts or other appropriate anchors, connect the new track to the electrical box, snap your lights in place and enjoy the fun of moving them around to get the lighting in your room exactly the way you want it!

Versatile Carpet Tiles Combine Convenience and Fashion

Long popular in office and industrial applications, recent years have seen carpet tiles appearing more and more fequently on the floors of homes around the country.

Carpet Tiles


Looking for an environmentally friendly floor covering that is fashionable, easy to install, and suitable for any room? Two words: carpet tiles.

You can lay these versatile modular carpet squares over almost any smooth, dry surface—sealed concrete, plywood, you name it. Unlike traditional carpeting, tiles do not require the use of nails, glue, or padding. Offered in a rainbow of chic colorations, trendy textures, and dazzling designs, they are washable and affordable to maintain.

Since their introduction in 1973, carpet tiles have come a long way. At first, they were only popular in office and industrial applications for many of the same reasons that homeowners and renters have grown to love them: less carpet cutting is required for installation (resulting in less waste); worn areas can be selectively replaced, and an integrated backing makes separate padding obsolete.


Carpet Tiles - Installation


In early 2000, Greg Colando, then president of a company specializing in carpeting for businesses, identified a need for a similar product to serve the consumer market. The company that emerged to meet the demand, FLOR, launched in 2003. Today, it provides smart choices to design-savvy, environmentally conscious consumers.

“Today’s carpeting and rug options are largely lifeless and unadaptable,” explains Colando, who now serves as FLOR’s president.

“FLOR carpet squares present a dynamic and vibrant alternative to conventional floor covering that offers endless possibilities for an earth-aware, transformational, and striking design.”

The company’s manufacturing processes use renewable energy sources and technologies; use a large percentage of renewable and recycled raw materials; and construct the product in a way that allows FLOR tiles to be taken apart so that face fibers and backing materials can be recycled.

Related: 10 Reasons to Love Bamboo Floors

FLOR also has an innovative Return & Recycle Program in which consumers return products for recycling. Translation: No FLOR product needs to end up in a landfill.

In addition, most styles meet or exceed Green Label Plus emission standards for indoor air quality from the Carpet and Rug Institute.

“Environmental consciousness is built into every sourcing, design, and production decision FLOR makes,” Colando says. “The company has developed ingenious ways to keep many discarded materials from ending up as trash and are finding new ones all the time, such as working with local partners from around the globe to turn discarded fishing nets into 100% recycled yarns for use in all new FLOR styles.”

19.7 inches on each side, these carpet squares may be installed in a wall-to-wall configuration or cut to virtually any shape or size. Both online and in stores, FLOR offers its own design services to help customers develop custom creations.