Consideration of how you and your family live will help with your final selection of permanent finishes for your home. I admit that I love marble countertop slabs and they make a kitchen look fantastic, but I also know that I tend to be a messy cook and marble requires more care and attention than quartz. Understand the material, the limitations and manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations on your finish choices before you purchase them.
How we live.
It is sometimes hard to acknowledge how you live in your home. I see so many photos of interiors that look like no one lives in them. Be honest with yourself here. I mean, very, very honest. Don’t pretend to think that you don’t have young children in your house if you do, or a messy spouse, or that you have hours to spend maintaining the finishes in your home. Not fully acknowledging your stage in life in your current home will only lead to frustration with your finishes over time.
Children in the mix? Messy cook? Countertops that are made of stone (granite, limestone, marble) require sealing and maintenance at regular intervals. Marble stains. It is easily etched by acidic foods. If this is something that will bother you after a few years or you have young cooks in the kitchen and want a simpler option, quartz will be the better finish material for your countertops.
Something similar can be said of backsplashes. There isn’t much discussion of the main purpose of a backsplash behind a stove. This finish must be able to withstand heavy steam and oil splatters if you love to do heavy duty stove top cooking. Choose tile or stone that is easy to clean up after cooking your favorite dishes. Large format tile with less grout lines or a slab of quartz might be the answer.
When considering permanent finishes for your home, it is important to get real about the amount of time you have to devote to cleaning. Many finishes require specific cleaning products or cannot hold up to heavy wear and tear. Marble in showers is very popular in interiors today. I am not a fan in terms of cleaning and maintenance. This finish is high maintenance. Choose something within your range of cleaning habits so you will not become frustrated over time.
Pets add a wonderful dimension to your life. Unfortunately, they are hard on the interior finishes in your home. Pets can have accidents on the floor as puppies and then again as older dogs. Some dogs love to get dirty or wet outside. Dirty, muddy feet can be a reality if you live with an active, outdoor dog or in an area where it rains or snows.
Consider what type of pet you have and what impact they will have on your finish choices. Obviously, flooring type is the biggest consideration. Stone and tile hold up well with large, rambunctious dogs. Both carpet and wood flooring can be damaged by a dog’s nails. Some flooring is slippery for dogs and can cause lots of “wipe-outs” when they run around corners.
Consider the type of hard finish in your shower or tub surround if you tend to wash your dog at home. Having glazed ceramic tile for the surround allows for easy clean up after the dog washing session.
Aging in place.
Aging in place is becoming more common and there are lots of articles written on this subject. I will only say a few words here but, I encourage anyone who is thinking about this to research this subject more. Many homeowners don’t realize certain patterns or colors are hard for older adults. Many diagonal patterns are hard on the eyes as someone ages and may not be a good choice. Flooring that is black and white can cause older adults to lose their sense of depth when walking causing falling issues. Thin throw rugs over flooring can create tripping hazards. Softer finish such as linoleum, cork or vinyl may be something that should be considered. These finishes are easier on your legs and gentler on falls or dropped objects.
Materials, lifestyle, and conservation.
In my previous post, Step 3: Define your budget, I mentioned thinking about conservation. I will mention it again here. For some people, conservation is a lifestyle choice. In my home renovation projects over the years, I have tried to be aware of the material choices I was making and the impact on the environment. There are lots of options for finish materials. There is ultimately a balance between project timeline, material maintenance, budget, and lifestyle constraints.
In North America it is common to find materials at big-box stores, especially when doing the work yourself. These stores are everywhere, inexpensive (sometimes) and have stock on the shelves. I would encourage you to search out other alternative stores when looking for environmental options.
Again, these options will require thought and research. I love the look of natural materials, but they ultimately come from the earth. Some materials, such as granite, marble or stone have a manufacturing method that is not the best. Some materials get shipped long distances or use heavy chemicals during production. Some woods are renewable, some not so much. Do your research, speak to shop owners who sell these products and determine what is best for your lifestyle and convictions.
After identifying which rooms will be renovated in your home, which finishes will remain and defining your budget, as discussed in the posts on the first three steps in selecting finishes, step 4: identifying your lifestyle is time for you to reflect and take stock of how you truly live. Focus on your convictions, whether they be raising a family, conservation efforts, minimalism, simplicity of maintenance or aging in place.
Consider taking time to choose your finishes with care. Don’t rush the process, as most people do. Reflect and dream, but always measure your choices against your reality. Renovating your home is a journey. Enjoy the trip.