Whether you’re moving into a new home or want to renovate your current space, here are some of the most common decorating mistakes that date your home. Along with some simple ways to fix them.
Has someone ever told you that your house looks outdated?
The word is a scary term in the interior decorating world.
We try to avoid it at all costs but sometimes, design trends have a way of sneaking out and leaving us behind to deal with the fallout.
Or maybe your house came that way and you just haven’t done anything about it.
In either case, a lot of outdated decor can be updated pretty easily without spending as much money as you might think.
But before we start…I strongly believe that your home should always reflect you and what you love best.
So if something you have in your home is on the “outdated” list and you love it, don’t worry about it. Keep doing what makes you happy. (Unless you’re going to be selling your house soon, in which case you might want to consider an update).
However if your room doesn’t look or feel quite right and you think a makeover is in order, here are a few decorating mistakes that date your home. And some solutions for how to fix them.
1 | Tile countertops
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Compared to solid quartz, marble, and granite, tile is a very economical option for countertops that was really popular in the 1970s and 1980s.
However, you won’t see many new homes with tile countertops. Not only are they outdated, but they’re quite impractical. (This is a common thread on this list–many decor ideas that are hard to maintain end up going out of style).
When tiles experience too much pressure or extreme heat, they can crack.
Their finish also fades over time as they can get easily scratched.
And the porous nature of the grout means it is susceptible to bacteria and stains, and needs to be sealed every year.
The ideal solution for updating tile countertops is to remove them and then install a new countertop.
However, if your budget doesn’t allow for that, you can install a laminate sheet* (like the marble-look one above) right over the top.
Laminate comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns (some are very realistic granite and marble imitations). It is really inexpensive and quite easy to install.
2 | Popcorn ceilings
Popcorn ceilings are usually the sign of a home builder cutting costs.
Spraying on popcorn is faster than properly finishing ceiling drywall and it covers up a lot of mistakes.
But I don’t know anyone who actually likes them.
They’re hard to paint evenly (especially if you like to decorate your ceiling, like I do).
And they always look dirty. If you’ve lived in your house for any length of time, they probably are. Trying to clean dust and grime off of popcorn is almost impossible!
Again, the ideal fix is to remove the popcorn and then refinish the drywall.
However, that’s a very messy job.
And many homes built before 1970 (and even some well into the 1980s) have popcorn ceilings that contain asbestos. Which are a health hazard to remove and require professional remediation.
So covering them is often an easier, safer and more economical option.
Not everyone would go with my choice of color, but the faux tin ceiling tiles I put up in my den do a great job of concealing the popcorn.
3 | Wallpaper borders
Originally meant to act as wall decor and a less expensive version of crown molding, using a wallpaper border is now an outdated practice.
Because borders have a totally different pattern and color than their surroundings, they call attention to where the wall ends and the ceiling begins.
Which makes the ceiling appear to be lower than it is. Not the look most of us are going for.
If you still like paper borders, try painting a pattern on your walls like the cherry blossom stencil I did in my hallway. (You can find a bunch of creative ways to paint your walls HERE).
Or install full wallpaper as a more modern alternative.
You could also add crown molding which can be painted in a more complementary color scheme.
4 | Elaborate drapery
I’m all about the drama. But let’s be honest, elaborate drapery can look dated pretty quickly.
Unless you’re decorating a period-style house, it’s usually best to stick to simpler designs.
Plus they are so much easier to clean!
If you’re a maximalist decorator (like I am) and love ALL the details, you can still get the look by adding trim to your curtains, or going for the two-toned look.
Or both (like I did in my master bedroom makeover).
5 | Builder grade lighting
If you live in a builder grade house like I do, you’re probably all too familiar with the flush mount dome ceiling lights, also known by the not-so affectionate name of “boob lights”.
These along with other inexpensive lighting fixtures (like builder-grade fans and track lighting) have been installed in many suburban houses due to their low price point.
And they make your home look like it hasn’t been updated in a while.
The solution is pretty easy. Change out those light fixtures to add a more modern and unique finish to your home.
You aren’t cookie-cutter, and your lighting doesn’t have to be either!
The new fixtures don’t have to be expensive, just something you like.
You can easily hang them yourself (see how I installed my chandelier HERE) or hire a handyman for a few dollars to do it for you.
6 | Beige tiles
For many years, beige has been the color of choice for home builders.
It’s supposed to be a color which is generic enough that any home buyer can see themselves living in the house. Which makes the home easier to sell.
When it’s painted on the walls, it’s fairly easy to change.
But when they put it on the floor, that’s a whole different story. Which is why so many homes built in the 90’s and early 2000’s still have beige tile.
And now it looks pretty dated.
Taking up tiles is a pretty big job that is not fun at all. If you’re up for the challenge, you can read about my tile-removing tips HERE.
Fortunately, there are lots of flooring options that can go right over the top of them.
Like vinyl, engineered wood or laminate floors.
And these are all fairly economical options with lots of choices available.
7 | Brassy gold fixtures
Brassy gold fixtures used to be a huge trend in the 1980s.
And I totally get that you might have a special place in your heart for anything with a gold finish. (Me, too!)
But if this is what your whole house looks like, it’s time for an update. Especially if all that gold is combined with beige tiles 🙂
Try opting instead for the toned-down gold fixtures that are available these days. They look gorgeous when paired with a vintage-style bathtub like this clawfoot tub.
Or you can try a more modern brushed nickel or polished chrome finishes.
If you don’t want to hire a plumber, you can also try spray painting your fixtures, like Lauren from Bless ‘er House did.
8 | Wood paneling
Reminiscent of the 1970s, wood paneling really makes a room feel closed in and dated.
Especially when it’s stained with an orange-based color.
However, removing it can take a lot of work and damage the walls underneath.
Fortunately, a simple coat of fresh paint is an easy solution to your wood paneling woes.
Make sure to sand and clean the walls thoroughly before applying the paint to make sure it sticks.
(Now, if they only took care of that light fixture…)
9 | Obviously fake flower arrangements
If you don’t have a green thumb or the budget for fresh flowers, you may be tempted to use fake flowers.
I am right there with you…I cannot keep a houseplant alive to save my life.
So my saying goes “good-looking fake flowers are better than dead real ones”.
However, there is a wide range of qualities when it comes to faux flowers. And you can definitely tell the difference.
If you’re using fake flowers for your home decor, splurge and buy the more expensive ones.
After all, they last for a long time, and you have to look at it every day.
In the long run, they’re still less money than buying new floral arrangements or houseplants all the time.
The dollar tree ones are fine for making inexpensive centerpieces for a party (I use them all the time). But for real home decor, stick to the more realistic versions.
10 | White everything
A relatively new trend, I didn’t think this look would last long. It’s so hard to keep clean!
While you can still find white kitchens, living rooms, and bathrooms, people are once again leaning towards color and warmth.
When you have a fully white room from floor to ceiling, with every piece of furniture in between lacking color, you end up with a room that feels cold.
Homes are meant to be lived in, and having full white everywhere simply isn’t practical.
If you like the all-white aesthetic, just adding a few pops of color with cushions and throw blankets will breathe some life into it.
Or switch out the area rug for one with more pizzazz and of course, paint your walls.
You might also want to invest in some slip covers.
If you want to keep the white color, you can wash them when they get dirty. Or change things up with a completely different color and pattern.
11 | Matching furniture sets
Many stores sell their furniture in sets.
It’s so easy! You walk in, buy the sofa, love seat and chairs that all match, and you’re done.
The problem is you end up with a room that has none of your personality in it. And frankly, it often looks pretty bland and boring.
If you already have a matching furniture set, try to break it up.
Put part of it in a different room. Or in a different seating group in the same room (if your room is large enough).
If you’re buying furniture, don’t take the easy way out. Instead, try to select items that carry a similar vibe and appearance, but aren’t exactly the same design.
Look for complementary colors and designs while finding unique pieces that still feel cohesive.
12 | Little wallpaper prints
I love wallpaper.
It’s an easy way to add pattern and personality to any room.
The one problem with it is that styles change over time, so it can start to look dated if it’s been up there for a while.
And that’s the case with little wallpaper prints.
They were big in the 80’s and now, not so much.
Since I like using wallpaper myself, I’m not going to tell you not to use it. If you love it, go for it!
You can either learn how to hang it so that it’s easy to remove later and put up whatever pattern you want.
Or stick to tried-and-true patterns such as stripes that will stand the test of time.
If you have outdated wallpaper that you want to get rid of, the one thing I don’t recommend is painting over it. That will make it a thousand times harder to get it off the wall later if you ever decide to do so. (And you will, once it starts to peel off at the edges).
While this list covers common decorating mistakes that date your home, remember to do whatever makes you happy.
If you’re not happy with the way your home looks, then take this list as inspiration and a good excuse to finally cross off some renovations.
Other decorating tips you might like
- 10 commoon living room layout mistakes (and how to fix them)
- Decorating myths: 5 decorating rules that are meant to be broken
- How to make a low ceiling look taller