Low maintenance…we appreciate it in our relationships, but we adore it in our interiors! As long as we can get great style, low maintenance versions of natural materials are an enticing alternative.
I love natural materials but they require extra care – they are susceptible to staining, fading, scratching, and wear. Sometimes we just don’t have the time or patience or lifestyle (or house denizens!) to accommodate the care often required by natural products.
Luckily, technology is keeping pace and there are now products available that imitate nature well, but are MUCH easier to keep looking good.
Here are 3 of our favorites:
If those words bring to mind some sickly speckled beige product from the 80’s, you need to look again! With the continuing penchant for grey and white kitchens and bathrooms with acres of marble, quartz is an incredible way to get the look of stone without the maintenance headaches. While nothing is truly indestructible, quartz is highly stain resistant and scratch resistant and doesn’t require periodic sealing since it is not porous like stone. Because of these properties, it is one of the most popular countertop materials right now. There are dozens of different manufacturers at a variety of prices and some do a better job mimicking real stone than others. Like selecting natural stone, it is ALWAYS wise to go look at the slab you are purchasing to be sure you really like it before you buy. While quartz is a manmade product and therefore much more consistent, there is still a world of difference between a 4” sample and a 10’ slab.
In the same vein, you can now get porcelain tile that looks like marble and comes in a variety of interesting shapes and mosaic patterns. A variety of finishes are available too. Most come honed or polished, but we’ve also recently seen a third category with a more rustic flavor. And, lets not forget the tile that mimics wood planks. My initial reaction to tile masquerading as wood is WHY? You don’t get the nice warm feel underfoot, or the bit of give that is easier on the joints if you use tile instead of wood, but for certain applications where durability is paramount (think beach house or mudroom…) it could be a terrific solution! Like with the quartz, there are dozens of manufacturers and some do a better job than others at creating porcelain tile that accurately portrays natural materials. But good porcelain tile is exceptionally low maintenance and very, very durable.
You are probably familiar with the term Sunbrella which is one of the more recognizable manufacturers of indoor/outdoor fabrics, but there are others as well. Almost all upholstery fabric lines offer a selection of these scrubbable gems and they no longer scream “patio furniture” in look or feel. Now they are virtually indistinguishable from their ‘dry clean only’ counterparts making them a great alternative for hard-working family spaces and worry-free dining furniture. We once gave a client a sample of a performance fabric she was considering for the kitchen banquette for her toddler to “do her worst” and see how it cleaned up…she was delighted and now has stylish family friendly seating!
Now, like never before...you can have your beautiful house and REALLY live in it too!