30 Ways Your Home Is Hopelessly Outdated
For a catalogue-worthy home, banish these décor debacles.
With a recent uptick in home sales in the United States, it’s no wonder the remodeling industry is booming. Research from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reveals that stateside remodeling costs are likely to hit $250 billion by 2025. And while it’s nice to imagine that moving into a new home means you’re inheriting brand-new appliances, paint colors that suit your taste, and other stylish upgrades, that’s not always the case. In fact, many homeowners find that they’re saddled with the questionable decorating choices of the people who lived there before them, and many others just get used to their dated décor.
However, if you want your home to look chic and retain its value when it comes to sell, there are a host of design flaws that will definitely get in your way. We’ve rounded up 30 ways your home is hopelessly outdated, from furniture faux pas to those inexpensive upgrades you will be happy to see go. And if you’re just getting on the property ladder yourself, make sure you’ve memorized these 30 Secrets Every First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Know.
Popcorn ceilings were, regrettably, once in style. Unfortunately, today, they’re just as ugly—and hard to clean or paint— as they were 30 years ago, but a lot more dated looking.
“You have to feel sad for anyone with popcorn ceilings,” says New York-based interior decorator Denise Gianna. “Any highly textured element adds shadows and, especially on a ceiling, this ends up looking dark and low. Avoid popcorn if you can—but if you can’t, it’s easy enough and worth the cost to rectify with a good professional by scraping and skim coating the ceiling or, if the height of the room is sufficient, by covering it with one quarter or half-inch sheetrock.” And if you want to instantly make your home more elegant, start with the 30 Best Stylish Home Upgrades.
Back in the 1960s and ‘70s, wood paneling was the hottest home design accent out there, adorning everything from recreation rooms to personal libraries to “man caves.” However, today, wood paneling is simply a sign that your house hasn’t been remodeled in decades.
“Fake, plasticky wood panelling has been out of style since the Brady Bunch was still seen in prime-time. Genuine wood paneling is lovely but really only appropriate in formal, masculine settings such as libraries, offices and court rooms. So, unless you have a serious commitment to a genuine 70s vibe or want to intimidate your family and friends, avoid or remove the wood paneling,” says Gianna. “A viable wood or wood composite option is barn board or wide board, painted or stained in pale, natural colors and applied horizontally or vertically depending on the style you want to evoke.”
If you’re old enough to have a place of your own, you’re old enough to have a real bed. Futons—even relatively nice ones—can make any home feel outdated in an instant. “A futon screams temporary and immature,” says Gianna. “If you’re in a transient stage of life or have a mixed use or small space to furnish, there are much more stylish, comfortable and flexible options for you: a clean lined day bed, compact, trundled Hollywood bed or a modern armless and backless chaise lounge will serve multi purposes comfortably and stylishly without the dorm room vibe.”
Bathroom carpets are two things in equal proportion: dated and disgusting. Not only does bathroom carpeting make it pretty clear you home was last redecorated prior to 1990, it also means that there’s a bacterial breeding ground right under your feet. And for more ways to make sure your house isn’t a veritable cesspool of germs, learn the 20 Things in Your Home You Didn’t Realize You Should Be Cleaning.
Track lighting may be easy to install, but it also makes any room look instantly outdated. For a more modern look, opt for pendant lighting or recessed-can lighting in silver or white. (Black recessed-can lighting tends to have a dated look.)
Unless you’re living in the 1980s, brass faucets have no place in your home. Brass faucets not only look out of place in a modern home, they also have a stuffiness about them that screams “grandma’s house.”
Inconvenient, hard to clean, and unsightly, tile countertops were a popular poor design decision in the 1970s and are an even worse look today. “Tile countertops belong to a very particular time frame and style long since past. Any counter top surface that is hard to keep clean, vulnerable to staining, cracking and pitting and requires a lot of maintenance is certainly going to go out of style soon,” says Gianna.
“There are several more affordable, simple granite varieties and some very good quality laminate counter top options that can give a casual, Mediterranean look for less cost and much less maintenance than tile.” And when you want to make your home look more spacious, too, try these 30 Design Tricks That Will Make Any Room Look So Much Bigger.
Much like linoleum flooring, laminate counters were once heralded as the height of convenience and style. Sadly, today they’re just another unsightly nuisance. After all, who wants a kitchen counter that gets ruined when it comes in contact with a hot dish?
Vertical blinds aren’t just ineffective, they’re also extremely outdated. In addition to making virtually any home look like a roadside motel room, vertical blinds give spaces a definite 1980s vibe.
“Vertical blinds may have at one point been popular, or at least on sale, but they were never attractive or practical,” says Gianna. “If you have to cover a sliding door or large window, think horizontal—simple, inexpensive rolled bamboo shades add tons of texture and warmth as well as gracefully filtered light to a room.”
Linoleum is one of those byproducts of convenience culture that’s still plaguing our design schemes today. Unfortunately, these floors have not withstood the test of time and can drag down the look of virtually any room they’re in.
Striped wallpaper may have once been a chic addition to a home. By today’s standards, however, it looks outdated and fussy—particularly if those stripes also have a floral print to them.
Ornate curtains with matching valances were once the height of sophisticated design. However, by today’s standards, they just make homes look woefully outdated. “Like the shoulder pad, over the top drapery—swoops, jabots, bishops’ sleeves and stiff, structured festoons—are completely out,” says Gianna. “Drapery is meant to enhance the light and view and should subtly complement the room décor—not dominate and slap its face.” Fortunately, all it takes is some sheer panels to instantly modernize a room.
Hanging drawer pulls
Surprising as it may seem, something as simple as a drawer pull can make a room look outdated in an instant. Luckily, upgrading to more modern handles or knobs can refresh your space in mere minutes.
Decorative staircase railings
The days of decorative staircase railings have come and gone. While ornate wrought iron railings were once in vogue, today they scream “early 2000s.”
Built-in entertainment centers
In the 1990s, if you moved into a home that didn’t have a built-in entertainment center, you were nuts. Today, if you still have a built-in entertainment center—particularly one that’s made of unpainted wood—your home looks woefully dated.
Tiffany lamps certainly have a time and place. Namely, they look like they belong in a home at the turn of the 20th century. Unfortunately, just one of these colorful glass lamps can instantly date your otherwise polished décor.
Those brightly-colored carpets your home came won’t exactly be a selling point for new buyers when you’re ready to move out. In fact, colored carpeting—particularly that of the shaggy variety—screams “this place hasn’t been upgraded since 1983.” For a more modern look, low-pile carpeting in a neutral hue is a better bet.
Just a few years ago, chevron textiles were the biggest thing in home design, gracing everything from carpets to curtains. Today, they’re just a reminder of a bad design choice you made in the early 2000s.
White appliances have gone the way of the dodo when it comes to home design. Today, white appliances feel unbearably dated and can drag down the look of an otherwise well-designed kitchen. For a more modern look, stainless steel appliances are a better bet.
Frosted glass lighting fixtures
While bare bulbs certainly aren’t any better, frosted glass is no friend to the modern home. In addition to making spaces feel dated, many frosted glass fixtures look cheap, too. “Light fixtures are meant to provide light and frosted glass obstructs light,” says Gianna. “So, bye-bye and good riddance.”
If you’ve turned on any HGTV show in the past decade, you’ve likely seen your fair share of mosaic tile backsplashes and bathroom accents. However, mosaic tile is rapidly going out of style, with less ornate designs taking its place.
In the 1990s, a Tuscan-inspired kitchen meant that you had money to spare on your kitchen remodel. Unfortunately, today, all it means is that your home hasn’t had an interior decorator—or even just a resident with an eye for design—in it for more than 20 years.
The rustic chic look may still be going strong, but hanging driftwood in your house immediately makes any room look dated. This is especially true for driftwood accent pieces bearing catchy phrases—does anyone really need a reminder to “live, laugh, and love?”
While crystal doorknobs may look charming in a period bed and breakfast, they’re not exactly elegant in a contemporary home. The good news? If you have crystal doorknobs in your home, all it takes is a screwdriver and some new knobs to upgrade your space.
The wallpaper border used to be a ubiquitous design feature, gracing kitchens and nursery walls alike. Today, all that border means is that it’s time to seriously update your interiors.
“Anytime you stop your line of vision with a hard line or strong color change, you create a visual effect that makes the space feel lower and smaller. This is precisely what wall paper borders (or any pronounced border) does,” says Gianna. “Thankfully, the trend to shorten and shrink the feel of a space is over. There’s no reason to revive it!”
Glass blocks were once thought to be a cool modern upgrade to your average home, gracing both interiors and exteriors. However, by today’s standards, they’re outrageously outdated, making any room or exterior look like the set of an ‘80s teen comedy.
The heyday of floral furniture has come and gone. While they were once thought to be an elegant and contemporary addition to a home’s design scheme, today, they just look old.
While they may hold some vintage charm, pastel bathrooms are also undeniably dated. If you’ve got a pink tub, blue toilet, or jade-colored sink, not only is your home outdated, it probably hasn’t been upgraded since the 1960s.
White appliances are bad, but all-white rooms might just be worse. The Scandinavian minimalist style may have seemed chic 20 years ago, but it’s hardly a fresh look today.
“All white rooms are difficult to pull off well and feel blank and boring unless the décor includes similarly toned shades of white and lots of texture, surfaces of varying sheens, wall and floor textures, mixed metals, woods and natural elements,” says Gianna. If you’re saddled with an all-white design scheme, try adding some colorful accent pieces, like throw rugs or lampshades, to brighten and modernize the space.
In the early 2000s, there was nothing cooler than walking into a shop or restaurant and seeing bare Edison bulbs hanging overhead. Today, they just look sad, dated, and not nearly as stylish as we once believed them to be. And when you want to improve your home from top to bottom, master these 20 Home Maintenance Tips Everyone Should Know.
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