The fixtures and fittings of our home are what make it. They are the finishing touches, the items that pull a room together and solidify your style choices.
For the sake of clarity, in this post, “fixtures and fittings” is a reference to:
- Essential kitchen and bathroom items, such as the sink, taps, and other related items.
- Curtains and blinds
- Lights and light switches
- … and anything else that helps complete the overall look of a room, but isn’t furniture.
Given the importance of getting these fixtures and fittings right, you can spend hours agonizing over your decision before you finally settle on items that you feel complete the overall look of your room. You’re satisfied with these items… for a while.
Sadly, though, fixtures and fittings are prone to wear and tear. They are frequently in use — door handles being turned, light switches being turned on and off, the kitchen sink handling the washing up — and this means they degrade rather quickly. It may seem that this is inevitable; after all, if an item is in frequent use then it’s more liable to need frequent replacing… isn’t it?
Not necessarily. Below are the secrets you need to know to ensure that your fixtures and fittings last, helping to save you money and preserve the overall decor aesthetic that you have worked so hard to create.
1) Choose the right items to begin with
This might seem obvious, but it’s a point that still needs to be covered: the ongoing longevity of your fixtures and fittings very much depends on the items you choose in the first instance.
The question of cost tends to become inevitable at this point. For the most part, the more you are willing to pay, the better quality an item is, and the longer it may last. While this may not always exactly be the case, it is the general trend that you should stick by when choosing items for your home. Just because something is cheaper in the moment doesn’t mean it’s actually the best financial decision, especially if you have to factor in a replacement every two to three years.
There are a few items in your home that you’re going to want to loosen the purse strings for. For example:
- Don’t scrimp on what you pay for your kitchen sink. Your sink is heavily used, for a variety of purposes. It has to be able to resist stains from any food remnants, as well as holding up to the occasional scrape or knick from a stray piece of cutlery. The quality sinks available at the Tap Warehouse and similar vendors may not be the cheapest on the market, but they will last you for a very long time.
- If you are buying metal items — such as door handles or light switches — then bear in mind maintenance is far easier with brushed, rather than shiny, metals. Brushed metal helps to disguise fingerprints, while still providing the shine that you are hoping to achieve.
- Be very cautious about buying cheap rugs, as these can be thin and will wear down in record time. If possible, buy rugs in person; hold them up to the light to see how transparent they are. If light passes through relatively easily, then that rug is not going to last, so save yourself the replacement cost by investing in quality.
2) Direct sunlight can be troublesome
Direct sunlight is incredibly problematic for fixture and fittings; it can yellow them, a problem that is particularly noticeable on fabric. Avoid direct sunlight wherever possible, or rearrange items regularly, so no one item is always coping with sunlight exposure.
3) Maintenance and cleaning are essential
All fixtures and fittings need to be maintained to last for as long as possible. While you likely take the time to treat your home well in terms of furniture, the fixtures and fittings often get left out when it comes to maintenance. Here are a few tasks you may want to try to keep everything looking brand new:
- Polish metal items on a monthly basis. This helps to restore their luster and preserves the protective coating that keeps them looking good. You do not have to use a special polishing tonic for this; a microfiber cloth and a little water is more than sufficient to help buffer a metal service to a shine.
- Rugs should be brushed regularly, ideally using a specific rug brush. If you don’t have one to hand, a soft-bristled body brush can act as a stand in. Just be careful when using any rug brush (or rug brush substitute); inspect the rug after use and trim any loose threads that have appeared.
- If you notice damage to your sink or bathtub, then it’s important to rectify the issue as soon as possible. Cracks and splits will just spread if you don’t deal with the issue. Here’s a couple of videos to help you do this, firstly, a cracked bathtub:
And a cracked sink:
If you have pets, then it’s also important to consider the impact that your pets have on fixtures and fittings. Good maintenance can help counteract these problems, and ensure that you don’t have to constantly repurchase the same items. Here are a few ideas you may want to try to help maintain the potential issues that can arise from sharing your life with a furry friend or two:
- Cats like to scratch; most cat owners know this, but it’s important not to underestimate the level of damage this scratching can do. Cats have a natural scratching impulse, which you have to seek to divert rather than prevent altogether– or you could find rugs and soft furnishings fall victim to your cat’s desire to scratch. If you have indoor cats, it’s essential that you provide adequate scratching posts and mats. If you see your cat trying to scratch anything that isn’t the scratching post, simply lift them up and move them to an area/item where scratching is acceptable. You should then go and check the item that was being scratched; trimming loose threads so they don’t unravel further.
- Pet hair is a surefire way to dull your fixtures and fittings– and it’s notoriously difficult to collect with a vacuum. You can buy vacuums with special “pet hair” accessories, but these tend to be expensive. If you don’t want to spend, then you can remove build ups of pet hair using a wet face cloth dragged over a surface; this loosens the hair and ensures it can be safely lifted. Furthermore, you may want to invest in a de-shedding tool to use on your pet; this helps to prevent the issues caused by pet hair by removing all loose fur. It’s strange to think that investing in a tool to brush your pet will save your fixtures and fittings, but it’s true!
- Any fabric fixtures and fittings are likely to absorb odor caused by pets so you will want to do a monthly deodorizing treatment to prevent the issue from building up to a point where it can’t be fixed. The best way to do this is to sprinkle baking soda over fabric items, such as rugs and cushions; leave the baking soda down for around half an hour, then vacuum it away. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer, and this step will make a big difference to the longevity of all fabric-based fixtures and fittings.
If you take the time to care for your fixtures and fittings, and maintain them where necessary, you will find they last much longer– and look as good as new for years to come.
4) Water is the enemy (even in the bathroom)
Water is the sworn enemy of your fixtures and fittings. It will cause metals to rust, can stain materials, and will damage protective coatings. Water should be banished from contact with your fixtures and fittings if you want them to look as good as new for as long as possible.
Keeping a stack of paper towels on hand to wipe down any fittings that come in contact with water; you’ll be surprised at how much of a difference this makes to the lifespan of these items.
Obviously, the water-free attitude is most difficult to maintain in the bathroom, but taking a little extra time to wipe up water droplets will genuinely improve the longevity you get, even from items that are meant to be waterproof. Give it a try; you won’t be disappointed.
Just because fixtures and fittings are subject to a large amount of wear doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to frequently replacing them. The tips above should help you