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18 Things that Make Your House Look Dated

Did you know that outdated decor and design can make your home look old fashioned. Here are some of the things that make your house look dated.

We’re all guilty of it: redecorating, renovating, and refreshing your home is expensive and time-consuming, so I certainly put it off.

Unfortunately, your home decor can start looking like you’re stuck in a time warp. What styles are past their prime? Let’s look at things that make your house look dated.

Things that make your house look dated are popcorn ceilings, wall-to-wall carpeting, tiled countertops, orange-stained wood, and wrought iron features. Update wall finishes, refresh dated floral drapes and heavy, boxy valances, toss out lace curtains, and move away from gray and white color schemes.

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Look, there’s a difference between an exquisitely curated mid-century modern living room and a tired bunch of cheap furniture.

I’m not saying you need to toss out beloved antiques or your individual retro style. Instead, let’s look at decor trends we once loved but that have had their day.

18 Things that Make Your House Look Dated (Dated Home Trends)

#1. Textured Ceilings

Let’s start with an easy one: the stucco, acoustic, or popcorn ceiling. These unsightly features date back to the 1950s, when they were installed to absorb noise and cover flaws in the ceiling. Even painting over a textured ceiling won’t redeem it.

Instead, you need to remove this feature. Better still, call an expert to transform these into smooth, appealing ceilings that you can paint with a pop of color.

#2. Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Wall-to-wall carpets come from the same era as popcorn ceilings. So even if you don’t have gorgeous parquet flooring underneath, it’s time to rip up those old carpets.

By now, they’re likely to be stained, worn out, and hotbeds of allergens. Solid flooring, whether wood, tile, or vinyl, is much easier to keep clean.

If you can’t let go of cozy carpets in the bedroom, definitely consider replacing the carpets in your bathrooms.

While having a soft landing for your freshly washed toes sounds lovely, you don’t need a built-in carpet. Treat yourself to a gorgeous, fluffy, washable bathmat that can sit proudly on top of an easy-clean, waterproof floor.

Another area where you can get rid of carpets is on the stairs. Loose carpets are a hazard, and vacuuming them regularly is backbreaking.

#3. Tiled Countertops

Another hold-out from the 1970s and 1980s is the tiled countertop, usually found in the kitchen but sometimes in outdoor entertainment areas. They were cheap, easy to install, and you could match them to any color scheme (hello, orange and brown).

However, in homes dating back 40 or 50 years, chances are that some of those tiles are cracked, stained, or chipped. The grouting is definitely going to be grubby and harboring dangerous bacteria. If you can, replace the tiles with on-trend stone or marble.

If you love their retro vibe, keep the tiles and have a Boho or country-style kitchen. But do a thorough deep cleaning of the grout, and reseal the whole countertop.

#4. Orange-Stained Wood

I’m afraid the 1970s have a lot to answer for, decor-wise. It was great that wood appeared in all areas of the home, but the endless paneling got tired. Especially if it was stained that unnatural pine orange.

That color was everywhere, even in the 1980s and 1990s: orange-stained oak banisters, orange pine kitchen cabinets, bookshelves, dressers, even orange hope chests.

I’m not saying destroy the wooden elements of your home. Nor am I railing against pine (see what I did there?). If you don’t want to tear out your wood paneling, paint it white and call it shiplap: suddenly, you’ve got an updated farmhouse look rather than an old ranch.

For cabinets and furniture, all you need is a less gaudy wood stain to update your interior. Better still, sand the wood to its natural shade and enjoy its rustic authenticity.

#5. Faux Tuscan Anything

In the early 2000s, the decor world fell in love with a faux Tuscan, Old World, rustic style. Characterized by orange, gold, terracotta, and olive and lavender motifs, this style transformed our kitchens. The look was finished with bronze, gold, and copper metallics, textured walls, and dark brown wood.

Contemporary style does include some of these elements, but the dark Italian villa feel is dated. Keep your all-wood kitchen by lightening the color of the cabinets, countertops, and appliances.

Your hanging copper pans will look beautiful against natural shades, and some potplants will liven up the space.

#7. Wrought Iron

Elaborate chandeliers in heavy, black iron went well with the pine furnishings of the early 2000s. Unfortunately, these fixtures now look dated and out of place in smaller homes, adding unnecessary weight to the room.

Replacing light fittings is a straightforward refresh, so if you love a chandelier, choose a more streamlined version.

Wrought iron staircases were part of this trend. Changing your statement staircase is trickier. You can update the wrought iron finish, or, if you’re planning major renovations, pull it out and start again.

Outdated Wall Finishing

Whether you like paint or wallpaper, changing the finish on your walls is one of the easiest ways to bring a room up to date.

#8. Outmoded Wallpaper

You know the wallpaper I’m talking about: that 90s formal dining room with the borders. Damask and acanthus leaves are best left behind in the last millennium.

I agree that wallpaper is on trend, and nostalgic charm is appealing. But the modern look is to paper a whole room, not just a single wall or a border.

#9. Sponge-Painted Walls

Along with the damask wallpaper came the sponge-painted walls, often a DIY job to create faux marble or tortoiseshell. While it was fun, sponge-painted and stenciled walls scream 1992.

Update the paint job with one of the gorgeous earthy shades that are trending.

#10. Wall Decals

We all loved the cute kids’ decals and happily decorated nurseries and bedrooms with musical notes, trees, and forest animals. Removing these decals and giving the walls a coat of paint will refresh any room.

If you want images in your child’s room, get a full-wall mural painted, or choose a peel-and-stick one that covers a whole wall.

#11. Word Art

Closely linked to the decal trend is the word art craze. You know those posters, decals, signs, or mosaiced letters urging everyone to LIVE, LAUGH, and LOVE in the living room or EAT in the kitchen?

Being a wordsmith, I love having text as part of my decor, but it needs to be personal and meaningful, not mass-produced. Framed wedding vows or birth announcements are good examples. Grandma’s cross-stitch works in a cottage-core design. Or go for striking prints in a home library.

Outdated Curtaining

Another simple refresh you can do without knocking out walls or cabinets is getting new window treatments.

#12. Overdone Matching

I know that matching your drapes to your sofa and cushions can create a harmonious whole. However, when a room’s features match too perfectly, a room can look overdone.

Work within a palette, using toning colors rather than the same fabric for curtains and armchairs.

#13. Heavy Floral Drapes

Another hangover from the 1990s is heavy, dark floral drapes. These were often burgundy and forest green, matched the wallpaper with borders, and made rooms feel dark.

Even if you want to block out light in a bedroom or TV room, it’s time to get a fresher color and smaller print.  Hang a new set of drapes high up to give the illusion of ceiling height and encourage the natural light to make a room spacious and welcoming.

#14. Boxy Valances

Luxurious window treatments with boxy valances and several ruffles and drapes are old-fashioned and will date your interiors immediately. Ditch the drapes and choose Roman blinds or simpler curtains unless you are carefully curating a Victorian space.

#15. Lace Drapes

Lacey drapes don’t have a long lifespan. Because they are usually intended to block light and create privacy, they yellow quickly and look drab and dusty. A quick fix is to replace lace drapes with crisp linen or soft, white muslin. You’ll still get natural light without the grandma feel.

#16. Glass Block Windows

Glass block windows were an ideal solution for bathrooms that needed privacy and light. However, these blocky windows are dated and ugly, especially as the grout ages. Unless you’re ripping out the bathroom and putting in a window, your best bet is to cover the offending windows with Roman blinds.

Outdated Color Schemes

The burgundy and green look has already been mentioned, so let’s look at a few more recent color trends that make your house look dated. Yes, the monotones.

As the zeitgeist leans towards the natural world and a more sustainable lifestyle, interior design is moving towards warmer, earthier shades.

#17. Gray-On-Gray-On-Gray

Grey color schemes have been a stalwart of contemporary interiors for nearly a decade. We’ve seen gorgeous gray and pink nurseries, misty gray bedrooms, and layered neutrals in bedrooms.

But gray’s time is waning: unless done well, gray interiors can be chilly, one-dimensional, and lacking in personality. Love gray?

Keep your beloved neutral in your muted interiors, but add texture and warmth with other neutrals. Or use gray as a smokey element of a more lush color scheme.

#18. White-On-White-On-White

While gray reigned supreme in bedrooms and living rooms, kitchens were engulfed in white. While this ultramodern look, which embraced industrial and Scandi interiors, is stunning, it isn’t practical.

Family homes with kids, pets, and grubby fingers leave white rooms looking dirty and cluttered, ruining the Zen tranquility.

Too much white can also leave a room cold and sterile, unsuited to warmth and welcome. Add some color and texture to this monochrome look to refresh it: bold shades, patterns, and individual touches are in for kitchens.

Final Thoughts on the Things that Make Your House Look Old Fashioned

If you’ve let your home slide into a drab, old-fashioned state, there are some quick fixes to refresh it. Remove popcorn ceilings and wall-to-wall carpets, paint the walls, and hang new curtains in trending earthy shades. Instant transformation.

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Louise Dahlgren

Sunday 11th of February 2024

I agree regarding an outdated home. However, we have wall to wall carpeting. We have it professionally cleaned. We have replaced carpets in both bedrooms. But, anyone with carpet in the bathroom is asking for trouble. The popcorn ceiling is here to stay. We have a two bedroom condo. WE will have everything addressed when it comes to a showing for sale. We plan staging, too. Keep up the good work.

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