12 Decorating Decisions

There are pros and cons to furniture, fabrics, and even flowers, so HGTV Magazine is asking, “Can you handle that?”
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November 25, 2014
By: Amanda Lecky

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: Kevin Sweeney/Studio D, ©Hearst Communications Inc., 2012

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

©Zach DeSart

Photo By: Amy Mikler

Photo By: Amy Mikler

A White Sofa

Upside: Nothing looks crisper or cleaner, and a white sofa goes with anything. It’s that piece of furniture you can hold onto forever. Just swap out the pillows for a new look. Downside: Stains are obvious. "Machine-wash slipcovers with a splash of bleach and put them back on the sofa while slightly damp to reduce wrinkles,” says Home by Novogratz’s Cortney Novogratz.

Mirrored Furniture

Upside: "It looks expensive even when it’s not,” says Color Splash’s David Bromstad. Plus, mirrored furniture small spaces look bigger and brighter since it bounces light around. Downside: Mirrored furniture is made of glass, and glass breaks, so be careful not to nick it with the vacuum, don’t put it in a kid’s room, and use a tray to protect the surface. Load up on Windex, too!


Upside: They’re lush, gorgeous, and available in lots of varieties and colors. They come back yearly and are surprisingly low-maintenance, says Vern Yip of Live in Vern’s House. They need fertilizing just once a year. Downside: It can take several years for peonies to begin producing flowers and have a short-lived bloom, lasting from late May through early June. They’re also ant magnets, so before you bring peonies inside, be sure to brush them off.

Copper Pots

Upside: Copper pots deliver more than just high style. "Copper offers excellent heat conduction, which translates to even cooking,” says Sabrina Soto, host of The High Low Project. It’s also less prone to scorching and scalding than stainless cookware is. Downside: No dishwashing, just hand-washing. To get rid of stubborn gunk, rub the spot with a lemon half sprinkled with coarse salt.

Lacquered Furniture

Upside: These glossy, upscale-looking pieces help a room feel modern. "Lacquered furniture is easy to wipe clean with a dry, soft cloth,” says Sabrina Soto. Downside: Lacquer is prone to chipping and scratching. Shiny pieces also show dust more than regular wood or metal ones do, so dust often.

Smooth-Surface Electric Cooktops

Upside: These electric models make a kitchen look sleek. The glass-ceramic surface is easy to wipe down with a cooktop cleanser. Downside: Smooth surface cooktops take longer to heat up and cool down than gas versions. Some cooks also find the temperature harder to control.

Chrome Faucets

Upside: This faucet style’s surface is shiny and clean, adding a modern edge to a kitchen or bath. Chrome is one of the most affordable metals. Downside: Chrome shows water spots and fingerprints and is more scratch-prone than others. "Most abrasive cleansers are too harsh. A soft cloth is best,” says Vern Yip.

Velvet Upholstery

Upside: The rich look and ultra-soft feel make velvet furniture dressy yet inviting. It comes in a range of shades, and the texture is a fun contrast to cool metal and rustic wood. Downside: Dust and pet hair cling to it, and shows wear. Try "performance velvet,” says Meg Caswell, Season 6 Design Star winner. The polyester or poly-blend fabric "feels like velvet but resists stains better.”

Grass Cloth Wall Coverings

Upside: Made from natural fibers adhered to a paper backing, grass cloth adds a warm and cozy texture to walls. Its variegated surface also hides nail holes. Downside: Grass cloth is tough to install because it’s heavier and more delicate than regular wallpaper, and it’s hard to spot-clean. Faux grass cloth wallpaper is made of vinyl and prepasted, so it’s easier to put up and care for.

Glass Tiles

Upside: Glass tiles are a great way to add color to your kitchen or bath, and they reflect light. They’re also nonporous, so they won’t absorb moisture, meaning no risk of mildew or staining. Downside: Glass can crack or chip easily, and it streaks. You’ll likely need a pro to install it, to get the thin-set mortar behind the translucent tiles perfectly smooth.

Pedestal Sinks

Upside: Pedestal sinks have a polished, streamlined look. They don’t take up much space, making them a favorite for smaller bathrooms. Many pedestal sinks also cost less than a drop-in sink plus a vanity. Downside: They offer no built-in storage and little in the way of surface area, so you’ll need adjacent cabinets and counter room.

Brick Pathways

Upside: Brick is a more elegant choice than concrete and less pricey than natural stone pavers like slate or bluestone. When it’s installed by a pro, a brick pathway should last decades. Downside: If the pathway isn’t done correctly, it can look uneven. Also, bricks can break and let weeds sneak through. "Interlocking concrete pavers look just as nice but are easier to install,” says Cousins Undercover’s Anthony Carrino.

Flat Paint

Upside: It gives walls and ceilings saturated color and a velvety look, and it hides imperfections. "A flat finish absorbs light, which can camouflage surface differences," says David Bromstad. Downside: Traditionally, flat finishes have been less durable than others—scrubbing can remove the paint or leave a shiny patch in the spot you cleaned.

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