Even More High-Maintenance Design Choices: 9 Things to Reconsider

I've already spoken about high-maintenance design choices here and here, but there's more to add. Let's talk about interior design choices that may be more of a hassle than they're worth. Because after all, not every interior design choice ends up being the best idea ever.

1. Flat and matte paint

I saw some hate for flat and matte paints recently due to their lack of durability.

And it's true, in the past, these sheens were very hard to maintain in high traffic areas, but not anymore.

I started using Sherwin-Williams Emerald paint several years ago, and it holds up extremely well to washing and even scrubbing. Many other paint manufacturers also have high durability flat and matte options.

Why would you want a low-sheen paint, like flat or matte on your walls? Low-sheen paints reflect less light and hide imperfections in texture. So if you're trying to downplay flaws in texture, flat matte paint is a great way to do it.

These sheens also provide a soft velvety look to walls that provide a nice contrast to artwork and adjacent furnishings and finishes.

2. Wood and bamboo countertops

Next, let’s talk about wood and bamboo countertops. This one came from a cleaning professional who shared that wood or bamboo countertops show wear and tear very


Their porous nature and easy wear and tear make them susceptible to harboring microbes as well.

If you love them and can't imagine your kitchen without them, be sure to protect them by using a cutting board, avoiding placing hot pans directly on the surface, wiping up spills immediately, and oiling them frequently for protection.

3. Super light or dark cabinets

Super dark or super light lower cabinets, especially those with a raised panel, have a tendency to show dirt pretty quickly as dust and grime accumulate.

We don't want to let our cabinets get gross before cleaning them, but using a mid-tone wood or paint will buy a little time and keep things looking cleaner until we can get to them.

4. Stainless steel appliances

Many people experience frustration with fingerprints and smudges on stainless steel appliances.

Even though stainless steel is durable and fairly easy to wipe down, in a super busy kitchen, this could become a part-time job.

Stainless steel is still the most popular appliance finish. And if you like the look, think about going with a smudge-free or fingerprint-resistant finish.

5. Wood-burning fireplaces

Wood-burning fireplaces are warm, romantic, and provide a beautiful glow, but according to many of you, they raise safety concerns because the smoke and fire are difficult to keep clean and can be an energy drain.

But many of you also mentioned that you do love them despite the drawbacks. A hearth and mantle provide a beautiful focal point, so the benefits and drawbacks are definitely something to think about when planning to build a home.

There are variations and options out there like gas or electric units.

Or if you decide to forego a fireplace indoors, you could set up a fire pit or fire table on your patio or in your backyard to get that warm and cozy feel in the right weather.

6. Pebble mosaics

This one came from an architect whose client fell in love with a pebble mosaic tile for their shower. They do provide a beautiful natural look.

Unfortunately, they weren't banking on the uncomfortable foot massage. So if you like the pebble mosaic look, select a flat style and save yourself some pain. 

7. Textured tiles

Texture can add a lot of visual interest, but in wet areas like a shower, it's a dust and mildew magnet that's really difficult to keep clean.

If you want a bit of a textured look with better cleanability, look for a tile with some soft patterning for movement, but that's still relatively smooth for cleanability.

8. Painted wood in the bathroom

It doesn't matter how high a sheen you put on wood baseboards in the bathroom. The daily dust combined with shower steam will eventually cause the dust to stick.

So unless you want to clean the baseboards really often, think about a tile base instead. Many manufacturers offer coordinating bullnose bases that are super durable and easy to clean.

9. Natural stone floors

Natural stone is really beautiful, but it's also porous and prone to staining. A viewer wrote that their slate floors show every drop of water, and they have to make sure they wipe up water immediately so that it doesn't leave a mark.

A good alternative is porcelain tile, which comes in natural looks like wood and stone. They're impervious to water and very easy to keep clean.

Interior design hassles

So what did you think about these potentially high-maintenance items? Are they worth it?

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments and if you have any personal experience with them.

Find the products mentioned in this post here.

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2 of 9 comments
  • Ginger Ginger on May 21, 2024
    The pebble floors look phenomenal to start. The mistake I made was not sealing the entire floor in clear resin. Also did not buy extra pebbles so when I needed to make some repairs, it was impossible to match.
  • Shirley Shirley on May 21, 2024
    Excellent ideas and advice. Another thing I think about and question is bathroom sinks that are usually bowl-shaped and sit on top of the counter. I would be very concerned that I would drop something hard on the edge of them and chip or break off a piece. Have people had this experience?