Foolish Fads: 9 Home Decor Trends to Avoid When Selling Your House

Some home design styles and features are timeless, like a crisp white kitchen or classic clawfoot tub. Then there’s avocado shag carpet that screams 1970 and could have buyers running from your property. You might love your bold bathroom tiling or brass finishes, but when it comes to selling your home, fads can backfire.

“When I meet with a seller, I try to help them figure out what they may need to do to the house to make it appealing to the masses of buyers,” explains Janice Rosenberg, a top performing real estate agent in Raleigh, North Carolina with over 20 years of experience.

Buyers love updated homes. As for homes that follow the “trends”… meh, they’re called trends for a reason. HomeLight spoke with agents and interior design pros, combed Instagram and design blogs to bring you 9 fads to avoid or eliminate in your home.

An accent wall is a decorating trend to avoid before selling a house.
Source: (Milly Eaton/ Pexels)

1. Accent walls

The popularity of the accent wall is undeniable. Online searches for the trend have grown 35% over the past five years. The theory is that one brightly colored wall adds a “pop of color” to an otherwise neutral room. But a wall is often too large a canvas for such a purpose.

“The truth is a neutral base of walls, ceilings, and floors will make it much easier for the next buyer to move in. Keep the color regulated to art, linens, and accessories,” says Justin Riordan, interior designer, architect and founder of the Portland-based home staging company Spade and Archer Design Agency,

Too much color on the walls, even if it’s on trend, can keep buyers from setting foot inside a home. They’ll see it in the pictures and move on.  “Most buyers won’t be able to see past that red kitchen,” Rosenberg says. It just means more work for them.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have color in your home. Instead of that loud pop on the walls, opt for a subtle whisper of pigment. “We do use subtle punches of color to help our buyers discuss each room,” Riordan explains, “but there is a limit to the amount of color we should add to homes.”

Elle Decor, which has been publishing internationally for over 20 years, recommends these on-trend, buyer-friendly colors for your accent wall:

You might be tempted to go bright, but a subtle accent wall, or merely a neutral palette, will do a better job of selling your place.

Tile countertops, which are a decorating trend to avoid before selling a house.
Source: (Rodenberg Photography/ Shutterstock)

2. Tile countertops

Tile countertops in the kitchen saw their heyday in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but like any good trend, they’re making a comeback with the minimalist movement. Tiling your countertop is relatively affordable, and tiles come in a variety of colors and patterns, meaning a unique counter space for your home.

But unless you’re updating an already tile kitchen counter, think twice about installing one from scratch. When a potential buyer comes through, they won’t ooh and aah over your custom tile. They’ll think about the maintenance that comes with tile countertops, which require that you seal the porous surface every year and keep the grout clean.

When it comes to selling a home, cleanliness is the watchword. Unfortunately, tile kitchen countertops don’t scream clean and tidy.

If you want to replace your kitchen countertops, consider the affordable (and still on-trend) butcher block, or the quartz veined countertops Southern Living has declared as the “go-to” kitchen style of 2019.

Brass fixtures, which are a decorating trend to avoid before selling a house.
Source: (NavinTar/ Shutterstock)

3. Brass fixtures

With over 100k tags on Instagram and a coveted spot on Pinterest’s top 100 2018 Pins, the mixed metal trend is here to stay. From jewelry to home decor, mixed metals add dimension and depth to your overall home design.

However, you can’t just grab knobs and pulls at random; some fixture finishes don’t play well with others. “Brass nickel is out,” says Rosenberg, “Getting rid of that helps update a home. Brushed nickel is fine, and oil rubbed bronze is typically fine.”

To create the mixed metal look you see in the magazines, be intentional with your selections:

  • Opt for matte black.
    Since black goes with everything, incorporate a few matte black fixtures into your bathroom or kitchen to tie the whole look together.
  • Avoid the same color family.
    You don’t want the mixing to come off as matching, so don’t use finishes that almost look the same. Instead of creating a chic effect, this will look like you didn’t notice they were different. That means don’t go for chrome and nickel. Pick one.
  • The fixtures don’t need to match your appliances.
    Instead of painstakingly trying to complement the finish of your refrigerator, pick fixtures in a contrasting color for intentional variety.
  • Use two or three finishes—max.
    You can mix metals, but you don’t want every fixture to be something different. Instead, pick one that will be the dominant finish, then one or two additional complementary colors for a cohesive look.
Plain decor, which is a decorating trend to avoid before selling a house.
Source: (Steven Ungermann/ Unsplash)

4. ‘Run of the mill’ decor

Your home should appeal to a broad audience of buyers, but don’t get rid of an element of design that’s unique or one of a kind to your home. In an Architectural Digest survey, 58% of designers said they sourced customized pieces for clients in 2019, a 44% increase over the previous year.

“If it’s new, even if it’s personal, I would recommend keeping it,” advises Chen Mishael, a New York City real estate agent who’s sold 78% more properties than the average agent. “If you have a special wallpaper or a unique painting, then it’s worth keeping because it’s something of good value. Although it’s personal, someone might see value in it.”

Take a risk and keep that professionally hand-painted mural in the bedroom. It might not be everyone’s taste, but if it has value, it could appeal to buyers specifically interested in your property.

Wallpaper, which is a decorating trend to avoid before selling a house.
Source: (Ijansempoi/ Shutterstock)

5. Wallpaper

Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, busy, bold wallpaper is back in a big way. Online searches for “bold print wallpaper” has increased by 401% in the past year.

But here’s the thing about wallpaper, don’t add it to your home. “It can add visual clutter,” Rosenberg reasons.

“Buyers are doing their searches on the Internet, and they’re looking at the photos and when they see wallpaper that they don’t like in their minds, they’re thinking it’s going to cost a lot of money and time to get rid of it.”

Keep your home fresh and clean with neutral paint on the walls. When a buyer sees that blank slate in the listing photos online, they can more easily imagine the changes they’ll make after moving in.

A microwave above the stove, which is a decorating trend to avoid before selling a house.
Source: (Mike Marquez/ Unsplash)

6. Above-the-stove microwave

In a kitchen with limited space, it’s common sense to place your microwave above the stove. However, this common kitchen feature is on its way out. This is in part due to the rise in popularity of universal design—making the microwave accessible for all family members is more important than ever.

Moving your microwave? Here are some ideas of where you can store it:

A loud appliance that is a decorating trend to avoid.
Source: (André François McKenzie/ Unsplash)

7. Loud appliances

Color in the kitchen is making a comeback, declares tech review site CNET. From tomato red standing mixers to bright white refrigerators, color has started to catch on.

However charming you might find a bright blue microwave, it’s not to the taste of every buyer. At worst, this can look like a dated throwback.

If you need to update appliances and want a fresher look than stainless steel, opt instead for black stainless-steel. This less dividing finish is being used in every 1 in 10 kitchen upgrades, according to a recent Houzz survey.

Edison bulbs, which are a decorating trend to avoid before selling a house.
Source: (Patrick Tomasso/ Unsplash)

8. Edison bulbs

Stop by any hip coffee joint, and you’ll run into the trendy Edison bulb or pendant light. According to Google Trends, Edison Bulb saw its online popularity peak earlier this year, and Elle Decor has declared this trend on its way out.

If you need to replace lighting in your home, try a striking structural piece that’s not only functional, but adds design and interest in your home. If you want a more subtle look, indirect lighting, which bounces light off the walls or ceilings instead of directing light downward, can soften harsh lighting. Instead of a large fixture in the center of the room, use under cabinet lighting, or recessed fixtures in your kitchen.

A bold bathroom, which is a decorating trend to avoid before selling a house.
Source: (Sevinos Erotokritou/ Pixabay)

9. Bold bathrooms

Bright design can pack a punch in the bathroom. However, if you’re looking to update your commode in hopes to sell your home, think spa, rather than “I’d like to make a statement.”

“White is your best friend in the bathroom,” says Riordan. “White towels, white accessories, white shower curtains will all make this room scream cleanliness.”

An all or mostly white bathroom can make the space look larger, and radiates a sense of calm. Keep those spa vibes coming with artful accessories such as:

When you sell your home, you need to appeal to a wide range of buyers, not just your own personal taste. But go too far in the “trendy” direction and the results could be fleeting. When in doubt, stick with styles that stand the test of time.

Header Image Source: (Stock-Asso/ Shutterstock)

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