Some home decor trends have an expiration date. While midcentury-modern designs like sleek Eames furniture or Eero Saarinen–designed Womb chairs are back in fashion and selling big, for example, others can make homes passé. Not to mention, a home stuck in the past might actually lose some of its potential resale value. According to Eugene Colberg, principal of Colberg Architecture in Brooklyn, “Updates to a house can maximize value when placing the home on the market,” he says. “Homes are also more enjoyable to live in when they have been updated,” Colberg says.
The usual culprits, like popcorn ceilings or laminate floors, are easy to spot. But how to find the newly to-be-retired faux pas around the house? Don’t worry. AD did the work for you. Read on for a list of seven lackluster features you should refresh stat.
A tiny area rug
Whoever coined the saying “bigger is better” might have been thinking about area rugs. “Too small of a rug can actually make the room feel smaller and out of balance,” says Nancy Evars, interior designer and founder of Evars Collective, a boutique showroom in California’s Bay Area. Sure, smaller rugs had their heyday as recently as the 1970s—when wool rugs crafted by handloom suddenly made a comeback—but really, the decor was more popular in prior centuries, when mass-produced textiles just weren’t a thing. Today, area rugs are meant to pull together an entire room, and in the living room that means having all the furniture on the rug, “or at least the front legs of the sofa,” Evars says.
An easy fix is setting more than just the coffee table on the rug. “Furnishings should fan out from the central table or gathering spot and ensure that the front legs of each piece are on the rug,” says Kate Marker, principal designer and owner of Kate Marker Interiors in Barrington, Illinois. However, if your rug remains too small for this option, and you don’t wish to part with it, Marker has another solution: “Consider placing a neutral, relatively flat jute or sisal rug underneath to create a larger footprint.” The extra material can also give another layer of texture, she adds. Or do what Jenn Feldman, Los Angeles–based interior designer and founder of Jenn Feldman Designs, suggests. “Die-cut carpets are the go-to to make a ‘custom’ rug scaled. And if that’s not a route you want to take, Flor carpet squares can be laid to any size room to ‘fit.’”
“Whenever I see a home that has gray-tone wood flooring, gray cabinets, gray walls, tile, and countertops, I think not only does the space look dull but also dated,” says Becky Wright of the Sorry Girls, YouTube creators in Toronto, focusing on DIY, sustainability, and interior design. White hues and muted, gray interiors were the providence of shabby-chic and cottage-style interiors of the ’80s and ’90s. Even Joanna Gaines, who elevated the farmhouse style on Fixer Upper, breaks up the grays with saturated greens and bold blues.
If you’re not sure how to proceed or if you should take the plunge with a bold color, Wright recommends opting for white, which is easier to paint over if you later change your mind or want to personalize with any color furniture. You can also try your hand at peel-and-stick wallpaper with an interesting pattern. According to a recent home decor trends survey by Klarna, global payments and shopping service, there has been a 92% increase in purchases of peel-and-stick wallpaper, particularly in jewel tones and patterns.
Wood kitchens, with plenty of backsplash options to complement the look, are not the only place for the natural material to shine. Wood is making a comeback all over the home, including the stairs. As a result, carpeted stairs, especially those clad in beige, look very meh. “Often carpeted stairs can look worn down if they’re original [to the house],” says Kelsey MacDermaid, also of the Sorry Girls. “They’ll either see it as not their style or potentially unhygienic. Ripping this out and painting, staining, or adding a runner to the stairs would be an updated win.”
If a big stair update is not in your future, at the very least replace the carpet with something new. For modern carpets, choose textured and tactile carpet patterns. These designs are woven at different heights to create plush three-dimensional effects.
Marble in the kitchen
Today, we have a fabulous range of countertop materials to choose from, but that wasn’t always the case. Until the ’70s, laminate brands like Formica were the king of the kitchen countertop: The material was affordable, durable, and lightweight, making it easy to install. It lost its appeal when natural stones like granite became more accessible and therefore more affordable. Porous and soft marble still remained pricey, and so sometimes the material impractically found its way into the kitchen—if homeowners wanted to showcase their wealth.
However, besides invoking visions of Gordon Gekko’s lavish yuppie digs or Trump’s golden toilet, this impractical material in the kitchen is a nightmare to keep tidy. According to Cathy Purple Cherry, founder and principal of Purple Cherry Architects, marble in a kitchen or wine bar area will only etch and stain. “Instead, use more durable material such as granite, quartzite, or quartz.” These are much easier to keep looking brand-new.
Nothing screams curb appeal like bright, modern hues. Not long ago, realtors encouraged homeowners to choose a “safe” color like tan: It isn’t bright and in your face. The hue also tends to go well with any type of landscaping. Beige and tan were also en vogue in the ’90s and the aughts. Now, however, a sandy exterior declines a modern, crisp aesthetic. A great way to update your home’s exteriors is to add a fresh coat of paint—and it needn’t cover the whole home. “Painting the front door is a relatively easy and transformative update that can breathe new life into your exterior,” says Kevin Lenhart, design director at Yardzen, a residential landscaping company, in Houston. “Your front door sets the tone for the rest of the house—it draws in eyes from the street and is often the centerpiece of your home’s exterior.” As far as front door colors go, Lenhart says the company often gets requests for black and charcoal to fit a sleek and modern look. Other times clients select “a timeless navy or dusty dark blues like Benjamin Moore Newburyport Blue (HC-155) to pair nicely with the soft, organic meadow landscaping that’s been popular the past year.”
Gaudy hardware and light fixtures
Though brushed brass hardware is the jewelry of kitchen cabinets, experts say that over-the-top hardware, such as large oval-shaped pulls and oversized lighting fixtures in the bathroom (ahem, chandelier), are on their way out for how they make spaces feel dated. Instead, choose matte black hardware for its minimalist aesthetic, Colberg recommends. In terms of gaudy light fixtures, for a while, mini crystal chandeliers had made their way into the bathroom. But here, too, simple is key. “A new sconce can totally change a bathroom,” says Venice Beach–based designer and author of Creative Style, Lizzie McGraw. Minimalist globe sconces inspired by mid-mod styles have been catching on as more people aim for subtlety.
Pretentious window curtains
Homeowners seek to bridge the gap between indoors and outside, and over-the-top window treatments are no longer desirable as they tend to obscure the outdoors. Moreover, gaudy and overdone window treatments are often thought to be old-fashioned now, Wright says. “When my parents were selling their home, they removed all of the ’90s valances off their window treatments, and I even cut off the detailed fringe bottom to the roller shades to make them look more updated.” The Klarna home decor survey also reports that pink and green curtains have seen more than 100% growth in sales in the first two weeks of January.
Those who love the drama, play into it; look at Lily Allen and David Harbour, who outfitted their Brooklyn town home with botanical window treatments that flawlessly fit with the rest of the floral fantasyland.
Mirrored closet doors
Mirrored closet doors, a beloved staple in the ’80s known for adding glimmer and flash to the yuppie era, also made small spaces feel larger. But the feature has since fallen out of favor. In its place, rolling farmhouse barn doors, French closet doors, and pocket or even bifold doors add a bit of personality back to a serene bedroom, without making the space feel outdated. Modernizing even smaller features, like closet doors, can change the whole look of a room and can make the spaces feel more enticing to be near, Colberg says.
When was the last time you saw white kitchen appliances? Probably at your grandma’s condo in Florida. There is a difference between something looking vintage, like a funky Smeg fridge. and an an old and weathered appliance. Even without a budget to get all new pieces, you can DIY it by painting a fridge any color of your liking.
Items such as “a retro giant microwave that is built-in to the kitchen” that no longer work are a tell-tale sign of a tired kitchen. “Even if they work, they might not be the most up-to-date option,” Wright says. In this case, time to remove it, and maybe work on a cool new plaster range hood?
The late ’80s and early ’90s seemed to love large freestanding decor that sat in corners. Remember those once-popular (and sizable) crayola crayon banks? What about the Southwestern-inspired vases that always seemed to be filled with faux reeds? Another decor item that occupied corners, though indeed it added some height to a room, was the popular torchlight.
Before LEDs, compact fluorescent bulbs lit our spaces—and along with being less energy efficient, they came with another unfortunate problem. The reason open lamps with glass bottoms are a faux pas? “Dead insects will gather inside the light fixture. Instead, select a sealed light fixture, which gives the insects no option for entry,” Cherry says. Pick any of these closed or downward-facing lamps. They will keep the bugs and you happy.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
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