10 Home Design Trends That Make Your House Look Dated
Interior designers share the home decor styles that should remain in the past.
We probably don't have to tell you that your grandmother's orange and green floral-patterned couch, complete with plastic coverings, is not stylish anymore. But outside of the obvious faux pas, interior designers say there are many home design trends that make your house look dated (and not in that fashionable vintage way). To ensure your space feels fresh and modern, we consulted the pros to find out which trends they say should stay in the past. Read on for their advice.
Matching furniture sets
Thirty years ago, walking into a bedroom where the dressers and bed were all in the same carved, white wood was the epitome of style.
"The thought was that matching sets look coordinated and polished," notes designer Linda Smith, owner of burlap+blue. "Unfortunately, today, completely matching sets can give off a sterile, outdated feel."
For a more contemporary look, Mariya Snisar, the head of interior design at Renowell, recommends "mixing different styles and materials for a dynamic and personalized space."
Brown granite counters
Real stone countertops will always look more high-end than laminate, but the color you choose can also make a big difference.
Stephanie Duncan, senior home designer at Opendoor, points out that in the real estate company's 2023 home decor report, outdated kitchen countertops or cabinets were a turn-off for 41 percent of home buyers.
"As a designer, tan, beige, or brown granite and tiled countertops are a big signal that the home is outdated, in comparison to a quartz countertop, for instance," Duncan says.
Wall-to-wall carpeting was once a status symbol, but now people appreciate the beauty and practicality of natural hardwood floors. In fact, 49 percent of home buyers in Opendoor's report said old carpet was a major turn-off.
"Carpet can show its age more easily. The fabric can hold onto smells, and it can show wear and tear from daily use," shares Duncan. "As a result, it can make the home look older than it is. Plus, the color choice can signal to a buyer that the home is older than it appears—a dark brown carpet, for instance, can give a 1970s vibe."
Who doesn't remember the Tuscan-style kitchens that were all the rage in the early aughts? Or the safari-themed living rooms complete with animal-print ottomans and monkey lamps?
"These elements, while popular in their heyday, now detract from the clean, multifunctional aesthetics that modern homeowners prize," says Forrest McCall, a home improvement expert and co-owner of the DIY site Mama Needs a Project.
If you're partial to a very particular style, pepper it into your decor in a subdued way. For instance, a leopard-print throw pillow can look fabulous against a modern camel-colored leather couch.
Yes, wallpaper is having a bit of a comeback. A funky palm-leaf print is great in a powder room, and a contemporary toile looks lovely on an accent wall.
But using wallpaper excessively or in highly specific patterns is a surefire way to make your house look dated, says Duncan. "Today's trend leans toward subtler, neutral, or textured wall coverings," she notes.
"More timeless patterns such as stripes, geometrics, or subtle florals in moderation add interest without overwhelming your space," adds Snisar.
While a subtly textured wallpaper is very chic, thick stucco walls are quite the opposite.
"In many older homes, you tend to see texture on the walls or ceiling, which can really contribute to the dated look and feel of a room," says Jessica Holmes, founder and CEO of Sarasota, Florida-based HSH Collective.
If you have these walls in your home, Holmes recommends covering them with fresh drywall and a coat of paint to bring the space up to date.
Another wall covering that feels old-fashioned is wood paneling.
"Dark wood paneling on walls, commonly found in the 1960s and 1970s, can give a home a retro look," explains Duncan. "Lighter, more minimalistic wood treatments or painted walls are more in line with modern design."
Aside from the walls, Snisar says dark wood furniture and decor can make a home feel "oppressive and dated." She suggests "lighter, natural wood tones" and "white-washed or bleached wood," to give a space a more modern feel.
The Memphis design movement may have led folks in the 1980s to believe that when it comes to home decor, you can never have too much color, but that era has long since passed.
Today, too many competing hues or patterns in your home can make it seem seriously outdated, says Rachael Grochowski, principal and founder of architecture and interiors firm RHG A+D.
Likewise, Snisar recommends avoiding overly saturated or bold colors. "Choose a neutral base and add pops of color through accessories and artwork, to allow for more flexibility and longevity in the design," she advises.
"Textured popcorn ceilings were popular in the mid-20th century but are now considered outdated," says Duncan. "Smooth, painted ceilings or other ceiling treatments like beadboard or coffered ceilings are more modern options."
To that point, McCall notes that low ceilings in general feel out-of-date "when compared to contemporary designs that emphasize spaciousness, airiness, and a strong connection to the outdoors."
At one point in time, a room wasn't fully decorated without heavy curtains, valances, and matching tie-backs. But in recent years, those weighty window accents have fallen out of favor.
How should you replace them? "Simplify the window coverings with adjustable shades in interesting textures and add clean, linear drapery panels," says interior designer Lori Wiles. Doing so will provide privacy without shutting out sunlight.
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