The perfect solution? Spray paint! Woohoo! That lovely piece of wood was easily removed and I just took it outside and sprayed it down with some satin finish black paint I already had on hand. My thought was it would blend in with the rug and hide dirt, lovely! It worked!
A super simple solution to an ugly problem. Now the area looks clean and shiny, and I like it! Isn't it amazing what a little spray paint can do? Who loves spray paint? Raise your hand! :)