Help your furniture look brand-new for longer.

By Laura Fenton
August 05, 2020
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Our home have all been taking a beating this spring and summer as we’ve been spending more time at home. If you’ve noticed that things are looking a little, ahem, worn, you’re not alone. But you don’t have to sit back and watch as your house goes to seed. We talked to seven interior design experts to get their advice beyond the usual cleaning and polishing. Here are 10 tricks to help your home decor last forever.


“People often think that polyester will outlast natural fibers. However, I find these can 'ugly out' faster,” says New York-based interior designer Young Huh. Huh, who is also a mom, suggests heavy-weight linen and mohair velvet, both of which can take a beating and still look great.


This tip was offered by every expert we spoke to! For high traffic areas, indoor/outdoor fabrics are your best bet. For those hesitant about the quality, Huh says, “They have come a long way in recent years: Outdoor fabrics can feel like regular upholstery and there are so many beautiful options.”

Suzanne and Lauren McGrath, the mother and daughter decorating team behind McGrath II concur, and in particular, say they love using ticking stripe indoor/outdoor fabrics on sofas. “It always looks fresh, and stands the test of time,” they say.


The McGraths have two suggestions for durable rugs: Indoor/outdoor carpeting for rooms where there is strong likelihood of spills and messes, like kitchens, family play areas, and rooms adjacent to outdoor spaces. In finer rooms, like bedrooms, they recommend 100 percent wool carpeting.

Annie Selke, founder of the rug company Dash & Albert, agrees. “Stains happen, so look for wool construction in a pattern that can disguise dirt," she says. "Wool kilims are particularly fabulous because they are often reversible, but micro-hook wool is also a long-lived, sturdy construction.” The price point may be higher for pure wool, but it will last longer and stains are more likely to come out than with mixed materials or polyester blends.


Don't skip the rug pad, cautions Selke. A pad will help make your rug last for years to come, especially in high-traffic areas of the home. Regular cleaning is also a must. Selke recommends you invest in a high-quality vacuum. “Frequent vacuuming removes dirt, which can age a rug, and also refreshes fibers that have been worn down from foot traffic,” she says.


Everyone loves to let natural light infuse rooms, but it's important to close off the daylight when rooms are not in use to protect the upholstered fabrics from fading, caution the McGraths. “We recommend blinds of any and all materials in rooms, even when we fabricate curtains,” notes Suzanne.  


Huh cautions against quick-fix, cheap furniture. “You end up living with easily damaged furniture and no time to replace it,” she says. For parents wary of investing in forever pieces when their children are small, Young points out that antiques have lasted at least a hundred years and will probably survive your children’s messes. Plus, she notes, long-lasting furniture is more environmentally friendly than something that will end up in the landfill in a few years’ time.


Decorator Katrina Blair, a mom of two and pet owner, says to pay attention to your fabric choices for pillows and slipcovers. “When selecting pieces for my home, I make sure they will be appropriate for my real life and for my family,” she says. She looks for covers that can be washed at home and avoids light-colored fabrics that show stains and dirt faster and tend to be harder to launder back to a like-new appearance.


Cheaping out on your paint can mean a room starts to show its age more quickly, so invest in the right high-quality paint. The more sheen a paint has, the easier it is to clean, so opt for eggshell or satin over matte finish for walls. But if you’re really craving a flat look, interior designer Matthew Kowles suggests Aura Bath & Spa paint by Benjamin Moore. “It’s designed to withstand moisture and it’s cleanable,” he says.


“Living in a small home with a Labrador, I've learned not to have breakables/delicates on the coffee table!” says Blair. Fewer fragile accessories means less to possibly break—and an uncluttered home is also easier to clean: win-win!


For less than $5, you can pick up a pack of felt furniture pads at the hardware store and save your hardwood floor from scratches. If a chair is pulled in and out all day, consider heavy-duty pads with a screw nail to keep the pad in place. Also, follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions to a tee—otherwise they’ll just come unstuck and leave sticky residue on your floor.