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Oct 19, 2019

For the past few years it seems that every trendy Instagram post given to us by the heralds of all things good design, have featured the lightest and brightest whites. The upholstery, the walls, the drapery, the light, even the books on the shelves are turned about so the delicately aged leaves in all shades of the hue are exposed. While it certainly is an inspiring look, there is a good chance you have a kid or a dog or a penchant for getting wine drunk on a Tuesday night binge watching reality television. Nothing wrong with any of these prerogatives other than the fact that they all have one thing in common; Their ability to ruin a perfectly light piece of upholstery or heirloom rug. And I know if there is one thing all of our southern mamas taught us, it is to be practical. So, we’ve decided to settle for a dark leather sofa similar to the one in the basement of the fraternity you slightly recall during college. We’ve settled for a lackluster rug that Nana certainly disapproves of because it lacks the quality of the heirloom hand-knots gracing every square foot of her home. We have settled for grey grout because we “like the contrast” and it “gives it character like the brick outside.” We don’t actually love any of the choices we feel like we had to make in order to achieve a home that always appears as if everything is practically perfect.

Relax, Mary Poppins. Times have changed and so have the materials and craftsmanship of all of these products we’ve decided it was in our best interest to sacrifice. Performance fibers engineered to be stain and soil resistant- or at the very least, extremely easy to clean- have taken the soft goods world by storm. Grout has been reformulated, rug cleaning is more accessible than ever, and our living spaces no longer have to suffer at the hands (or paws) of messy creatures.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here. I’m not saying these “magical” fibers never have to be cleaned or every installation will be a one-and-done, never have to think about maintenance here again situation, but everything has been engineered to be as easy as possible for the average adult (or chore-laden teen) to clean.

Crypton, Sunbrella, Revolution, and endless other companies are using various patented technology to make upholstery of every color easy to live with. That’s not to say these stain resistant fibers will never need a quality, professional cleaning; but they will help prevent the little Uh-Oh’s from becoming permanent “oh no’s!” Your sofa, no matter the color or fabric, is still going to collect dust and soil particles in the weave of the fabric. The arms and seat cushions are going to get dingy, and you will need a professional to come clean your upholstered pieces at least once every year.

Other delicacies like hand-knotted rugs are a totally different animal (literally, thank the sheep for growing such a velvety soft fiber). Wool is naturally liquid repellant. That’s not to say your spill will sit forever on the top of the rug (it’s going to find its way between the fibers) but that if properly maintained, staining should not be an issue with wool rugs. You won’t find a more durable rug construction than a hand-knotted rug. The craftsmanship involved with each rug creates a unique piece of art that, with proper cleaning and maintenance, can last a lifetime and be an heirloom piece you pass on to your children or grandchildren- even with pets and kids wreaking havoc on it now. Have your hand-knot cleaned every eight to twelve months or after a severe soiling incident happens. Saturating the fibers with a spot cleaning is not recommended.

Even if you are the most careful family and keep the most pristine home in the south, there are still areas that are going to require regular attention. The grout in your shower is one of the most under cleaned areas of the home. The vile combination of excess moisture, soap, and protein (no details here, you can Google it) creates an environment that even the most diligent toothbrush-wielding home makers cannot scrub away. There are professionals who steam clean showers and hard surface installations and do a type of “soft restoration” to the hard surface products. Having these areas cleaned professionally just once will open your eyes to just how badly it has needed a cleaning.

Look, life happens. We are all human, and as a consequence, we are doomed to cause a devastating mess at least once in our lives (if not once a quarter). If we so desire, we can live life in a beautifully crafted space that would make any insta-influencer envious. All it takes is just a little proper, regularly scheduled maintenance.

~Kipp Westling

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