Renovating a home is a huge luxury that I thought I wouldn’t be able to experience until much later in life. But a couple of years ago we bought a small flat, and saved-up to do some renovations so we could live in it after our daughter was born.
Since this was our first time owning property, and doing this kind of large renovation, we made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot. But, there are a few things that I think we did right and they make my day-to-day life a lot easier.
One of the most important things we kept in mind when we were choosing fixtures and other design elements for our home was “Will this be easy to clean?” Both my husband and I hate cleaning, so I’m always looking for things that will make it easier. I think a lot of people might select what fits their taste or style over what is easy to clean, but I’m really glad we made this criterion a top priority since, in some areas, it really makes life easier.
Here are 8 of the design choices and fixtures that really make our home easy to clean, and 3 things I would do differently next time:
Wall-hung vanity in the bathroom
Most of the choices we made affected our kitchen and bathroom. Understandably, they are two hard-working rooms. We installed this vanity and sink from Ikea in our bathroom and it’s been great for two reasons. First, since the whole unit hangs on the wall it’s super easy to clean underneath. Since I don’t have to work around legs, I can fit the vacuum under it with no problem. Second, the counter-and-sink-in-one top makes wiping the counter down quick and there is nowhere for mildew to grow, and no caulking or grout for things to stick to.
Wall-hung toilets are really common in Europe (and maybe in other parts of the world? @jetsetmama did an amazing and hilarious summary of these on her Instagram stories a while ago and from reading some of the comments it’s clear that these toilets are totally normal some places and totally unknown in others). I don’t know why I never saw these in Canada but I honestly adore it. I hated how dust would get trapped around the base of the toilet at our old place and getting in and around it to clean was so tedious. Our vacuum almost fits under our wall-hung toilet and I do the rest by hand to get any lingering dust bunnies.
Toilet seat and lid
Finding a toilet seat and lid with the least crevices possible, again, make cleaning a breeze. I still think I could have selected a better one for our place, as there’s one spot around the hinge that I still have trouble reaching when I clean. Looking at some of the seat and lid designs really makes me wonder if any of these designers have ever cleaned a toilet themselves.
Kitchen sink faucet
The on/off tap on this faucet is at the end of the spout and therefore centred over your sink. When you have wet and drippy hands you don’t get water all over your counter as you turn it on and off.
Our under-mount sink from Ikea didn’t turn out exactly as we expected. Have you ever seen pictures of how they do under-mount sinks when you have a laminate countertop? It’s a bit bizarre. However, I’m still happy that I can wipe drips and small crumbs from the counter right into the sink, and that there’s nothing getting caught in the edge of the sink. (Of course, this is a more expensive sink mounting style to choose but I was really happy we invested in it.)
Self-opening garbage bin
This was a happy surprise from Ikea. We didn’t intend to order the self-opening mechanism for our garbage bin. But, if you’ve ever ordered a kitchen from Ikea, you know that at the end of the design process they give you a list of approximately one million items to approve before you purchase. By that time, you just want to get the heck out of there so it’s easy to miss some things in the rush. We had a team from Ikea install our kitchen, so when we were reviewing the install we were surprised to find our garbage drawer opened with the kick of a foot. We talked about returning it to save a bit of money, but we got used to it so quickly we decided to keep it.
When your hands are messy or sticky, or you’re wanting to scrape plates into the garbage, it’s so nice to have two hands and not get fingerprints or drips all over your cabinets. I often find myself kicking other cabinet doors expecting them to open.
Flat face kitchen cupboards
In our last apartment, we had some nice traditional cupboard doors that looked a bit like these ones from Ikea. I liked the look a lot, but dust would settle on the ridges and sometimes mix with grease from cooking and be challenging to clean off. It wasn’t the worst cleaning job in the world but just something I could skip. We got flat face cupboard doors in our new kitchen and it’s nice not having to dust them!
Baseboards are not common in the style of apartment we live in (I think it was built in the 60s). Though I like the finished look that a baseboard gives to a room, not having them means there’s one less thing to dust. (Where our walls meet our wood floors there is a really small, low profile piece of trim that essentially is part of the floor and can be vacuumed at the same time as the rest of the floor. Where we have tile, the wall simply ends at the tile.)
Decisions that weren’t good for cleaning:
Light coloured flooring:
We picked a really light coloured Marmoleum for our entryway. It shows every bit of dirt, dust, and each strand of hair that I lose. We don’t have any natural light reaching our hallway (you can see pictures of it in our post about Using Ikea Cupboards as a Closet) so I wanted to make sure the space felt light and airy. Though I still like how it looks, I wish I’d picked a slightly darker colour to camouflage the dust a better.
Waxed Hardwood Floors
We have nice old hardwood floors that were varnished and needed refinishing when we bought the place (someone had varnished the floor around carpets and furniture so it really looked a bit odd). We wanted an eco-friendly option to finishing our floors and my husband really loved the feeling of waxed floors. I had some reservations about it because it was unclear to me how to clean and maintain the floors. Though I like the look, there aren’t many products that you can use to clean waxed floors (this is the eco-friendly option I’ve found). And I feel like food sticks a bit more aggressively to it than they would to a varnished floor. If it weren’t for the fact that our kitchen and dining table are in the same room as this floor, it probably wouldn’t be an issue. We’ve had our kitchen in here for a year, and we’re careful with water drops, and so far I haven’t seen any damage to the floor. I guess I just wish I didn’t have to worry about it and could use any cleaning solution on it.
Painted Kitchen Backsplash
To save some money we wanted to paint the backsplash of our kitchen. I appliedapproximately 10 coats of paint (it was a dark colour) and 2 coats of varnish on the wall to cover it and protect it from splashes etc. However, every drop of water shows up as a permanent mark on the wall, where I’ve wiped it off. I am thinking that I should have done more coats of varnish? I don’t know why the watermarks show up so much, but I’m assuming it’s because they somehow seep through to the paint underneath. Something to research more thoroughly if you’re thinking of doing it in your own home!
If you’re planning for the future or renovating your own home, I hope this helps! Have you renovated your home? Are there any design choices that make it easier for you to keep it clean?