10 High-Maintenance Design Choices & Their Alternatives

You may want design choices that are beautiful but they can cause maintenance headaches. A home should support your well-being and make your life less complicated. A low-maintenance home offers you beauty, simplicity, and ease of use.

Here are 10 high-maintenance designs and home features that you might want to think twice about when planning your space.

Sofa with white upholstery
Chair with white upholstery

1. White upholstery

White upholstery, especially heavily textured fabric like a boucle, picks up a lot of dirt and shows stains more easily.

Gray-beige sofa

Go darker

Cream, beige, and light gray fabrics are more forgiving. If your heart is set on white, opt for cleanable performance fabrics.

Sofa covers
Button-tufting on couch


Or choose slip-covered pieces with removable, washable covers.

Button-tufting on couch seats
Button-tufting on couch backs

2. Button tufting

Button-tufting offers a classic and elegant look but stick to it on the backs and arms of upholstered pieces. Button-tufted seat cushions accumulate dirt, dust, and crumbs in areas of the buttons no matter how meticulous you are about cleaning. In addition, this type of seat cushion doesn’t provide the most comfort.

Hardwood flooring

3. Carpeting

Wall-to-wall carpeting is often replaced by hard flooring as the preferred type of floor for new construction and renovations. Remember that carpeting harbors dirt, dust, allergens, and microbes. It needs to be replaced every five to 15 years. Longer-lasting options are hardwood, engineered hardwood, and porcelain tile.

Durable porcelain


Durable porcelain comes in a variety of natural looks, including stone and wood, and can be a great choice over concrete slab which is prone to moisture retention.

Area rugs and runners
Area rugs


Area rugs and runners come in washable options and can be paired with these harder floorings to add softness, texture, and a layered look.

Shelves in the kitchen
Open kitchen shelving

4. Open kitchen shelving

Though open kitchen shelving seems attractive, it requires lots of dusting and organization. If they are not thoughtfully styled and meticulously maintained, they can make your kitchen feel cluttered and disorganized.

Closed cabinets

Closed cabinets

Opt for closed cabinetry to simplify your cleaning routine and provide a calm, orderly look.

Spraying the glass top table
Glass top table

5. Glass top tables

Glass top tables show everything from fingerprints to dog nose smudges. They always look dusty and they tend to scratch. Though they can make a space feel larger, the look can be kind of cold. It’s not worth the maintenance, at least not for me.

Glossy finish furniture

6. Glossy finishes

Like glass, other glossy surfaces, especially black ones, show dirt, dust, and smudges. Even water stains are more noticeable on these materials and surfaces. Matte and brush metal finishes, especially in lighter colors, will show fewer prints and spots.

Marble countertop
Marble counter

7. Marble counters

Marble is beautiful and classic but it’s soft, porous, and extremely high maintenance, especially on countertops. Marble is susceptible to staining and etching by acidic liquids like coffee, tea, wine, soda, fruit juices, makeup, beauty products, and some cleaning products.

It requires sealing once a year and frequent polishing is recommended to reinforce the seal and prevent marks.

Durable stone options

Granite & quartzite

There are better alternatives. Other more durable natural stones, like granite and quartzite, stain less than marble, though they still require regular sealing.

Quartzite, on the other hand, is a composite of 93 percent ground quartz, one of the hardest minerals. It’s combined with a 7 percent polymer resin binder. Quartzite can create terrazzo-lie designs with larger chips or almost any look you like when the dust form is used.

More durable stone
Quartz and quartzIte examples

QuartzIte can even create a marble look. Quartz is very hard, durable, and resistant to chipping, etching, and scratches. Quartz does not require regular maintenance like other options, but it can be damaged by the heat of hot pans which causes the resin to crack. Though non-porous, it’s important to clean up things that can stain quartz so it doesn’t cause a chemical reaction with the resins.

Vessel sink 1
Vessel sink 2

8. Vessel sinks

Vessel sinks can look like little works of art but they are a hassle to maintain. Anything that sits permanently on top of the counter is tough to keep clean. Water and dirt inevitably accumulate at the base, which is very difficult to access.

Undermount sink

Undermount sinks

Undermount sinks make cleaning the countertop much easier and you can also install wall-mounted faucets to make the countertop completely accessible for cleaning.

Glass shower

9. Glass shower enclosures and doors

It’s difficult to keep this material free of water spots. The tracks of sliding doors collect debris and mildew.

Squeegee-ing the glass shower


Try to keep the glass to a minimum in a bathroom and squeegee regularly.

Shower curtain

Shower curtain

Opt for a shower curtain and liner. Yes, the liner can still get pretty nasty but the whole thing can be removed and washed or wiped down.

Design with nooks and crannies
Clean lines in interior design

10. Nooks and crannies

Nooks and crannies quickly accumulate dirt, dust, and debris. When you see changes in flooring there’s bound to be dirt accumulations. Jogs in the walls and trim also gather dust. All of these places are tough to clean. Opt for the same level of flooring if possible.

Simple baseboards

Simple baseboards

Elaborate trim, especially at the baseboard, becomes a dust magnet, too. Look for a simple profile to avoid unnecessary cleaning.

Simple hardware
Simple fixtures and hardware

Panels vs flat

Use the same strategy with fixtures and hardware if simplicity and low maintenance are your goals. For example, framed and paneled cabinet doors built up dirt and debris. Flat-paneled cabinets are much easier to keep clean.

Uneven brick
High-maintenance designs

Even surfaces

Other surfaces that are dust magnets include uneven surfaces, such as stacked stone or handcrafted zellige tiles are beautiful but require more detailed cleaning to keep them dust-free.

These materials are unique and if you are really into them, you may be willing to go the extra mile to maintain them.

High-maintenance designs

Just like you, I’m willing to put up with the extra cleaning on some high-maintenance designs and materials that I love. So don’t hesitate to do that with something special you truly want in your home.

Are there any materials you are willing to put up with when it comes to a cleaning hassle? Let me know in the comments!

Join the conversation
  • Patty Kake Patty Kake 5 days ago
    Finally, great advice to keep cleaning to a minimum and practical styling tips. Thanks
  • Cheryl Cheryl 4 days ago
    Your advice rings true! #11 - elaborate light fixtures and chandeliers :)