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These Design Features Are Making Your Home Harder to Clean

June 27, 2019
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Less (house)work, more fun, please!

Your home renovation matters not just because it's about bringing your dream spaces to life, but also because it determines how hard it is to keep things clean and tidy.

Depending on the design features and/or materials that you've chosen to include, you may either have to perform regular maintenance or almost none at all.

Sims Urban Oasis by Intrigue-d Design Consultancy
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So, if you’re the type of homeowner who values “me” time over stylish spaces with high upkeep, take note of these 6 hard-to-maintain design features that local interior designers recommend skipping for an effortless cleanup in the future.


1. Rough surfaces

Kingsford Waterbay by Mr Shopper Studio
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Interior Firm: Mr Shopper Studio

Don’t get us wrong. Stone features look great with their natural patterns and texture, but their bumpy edges can be a trap for all sorts of grime.

“If you’re talking about (wall) cladding, stone-like tiles are great if you want a rustic look,” says Design Story’s Frank Lim. “But their grooves tend to catch dirt and dust. Or even oil stains or mould if you use them as backsplashes in a wet area like the kitchen.”

2. Real marble (and other porous stones)

The Poiz Residences by Design Story
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Interior Firm: Design Story

Before bringing natural marble (or just about any porous stone, like travertine and limestone) into your home, ask yourself if you’re able to handle the regular maintenance schedule that they “need to be kept in tip-top condition”, Frank says.

That said, don’t be too quick to opt for faux marble either – Frank feels that these alternatives often have “a man-made look to them and their grains don’t always flow well across slabs”, which means they aren’t as beautiful as the real deal.

3. Wood-veneer furniture

design features harder to clean
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According to Frank, what differentiates laminates from veneers is that the latter are made from real wood bark. “They are essentially thin sheets of wood,” he says. “But that makes them brittle, which is why we don’t recommend outfitting frequently used build-ins, such as shoe and kitchen cabinets, with veneers.”

4. Cement screed surfaces

Anchorvale Crescent by Free Space Intent
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Interior Firm: Free Space Intent

We all know how good cement screed looks in an industrial-style home with its raw appeal, but Intrigue-d design consultancy consultant Raemond Teo prefers using epoxy or resin to achieve the look instead.

“Sealing cement does help to prevent water and stains from seeping in, but that doesn’t prevent it from cracking,” he says. “When the screed starts to dry in hot areas, that’s when the cracks start appearing, and you’ll have to fill them up to prevent further damage.”

5. Hardwood flooring

St. Georges Road by Edge Interior
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Interior Firm: Edge Interior

Hardwood adds warmth to any home, whether it has a classic look or a more contemporary one. But as Frank puts it: “Most nice-looking features are hard to upkeep” – and hardwood floors (i.e. parquet) are no exception, because they how easily they tend to show their age when installed in high-traffic areas.

Have pets or heavy furniture? You may instead wish to use more durable lookalikes, such as engineered wood or vinyl tiles.

6. Small-format tiles

Bukit Batok West Avenue 8 by Para.graph
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Interior Firm: Para.graph

Large format tiles in a kitchen/bathroom/any home are great if you hate housework: larger tiles mean less grouts, and less grouts mean less slogging over small gaps with a cleaning brush.

“Backsplashes or walls made of small tiles can be quite hard to maintain because the grout lines are not just numerous, they are also porous and require regular sealing in busy areas,” says Raemond. “So, if you want to do less cleaning, use a seamless surface like glass to save time and effort."


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