9 Dated Features Homebuyers Always Notice

Interior designers share the top out-of-date details prospective buyers will spot first in a home, no matter what.

Refreshed and Ready to Sell
Whether you’re polishing up your home to sell or just want to enjoy some modern touches, dated decor can make a home seem stuck in the past.

“While some so-called ‘outdated’ items may be off-trend, if the current homeowner loves them, that’s what’s important,” says Jenny Williamson, chief creative officer at West Rose Design. While you don’t need to try every new decorating trend, "if you’re selling your home, it’s good to be aware of what will appear less than ideal for prospective homebuyers.”

Here are the dated features buyers always notice, according to our experts.

Wall-to-Wall Carpet
Although carpet was once very much in favor (even in bathrooms!) in the 1970s, these days, Williamson says, if there is carpet anywhere other than bedrooms, “it’s a no-go.”

“Newer homes typically never have a carpet delineation in shared spaces or wall-to-wall carpet everywhere, as seen in the ’70s and ’80s,” she says. “Carpet more easily traps dirt and debris and is not viewed as ideal when looking for a new home.”

Try Layering Rugs
But let’s say that replacing it isn’t within your current budget. In this case, Williamson recommends diverting focus by adding throw rugs over the carpet, creating a more layered look that will help separate spaces.

Popcorn Ceilings
Williamson says that while popcorn ceilings were certainly “all the rage” in the 1960s and '70s, today, they look totally outdated.

“They will be a clear turnoff for any new homebuyer, not only based on looks alone, but also for the health hazard — most popcorn ceilings installed before 1978 were installed with asbestos, a fiber that can increase the risk of several serious diseases and cancer,” Williamson says.

Corner Alcove Tubs
Corner alcove bathtubs were once a sign of an upscale primary bathroom, but according to Lindsie Davis, owner and principal designer of Blueberry Jones Design, they’re a thing of the past. Davis points out that these “trending beauties of the ‘90s” take up valuable floor space, often resulting in a smaller shower. And don’t even get us started on how hard these tubs are to clean and maintain.

Heavy Curtains
Sure, heavy curtains can keep light out, if that’s your goal, but nowadays, prospective homebuyers are all about natural light. A darker space can appear dated, Williamson notes, and heavy draperies won’t allow the maximum amount of light into a home.

Glass-Block Windows
Remember those glass-block windows that were the thing in the 1980s? Well, they might be fresh in your mind if they are currently residing in your home. Davis says these “clunky, cloudy bricks,” can take away from a spacious and airy feel — something that feels much more right-this-minute.

“Over time, these windows tend to collect dust, grime and not to mention soap scum if used in a shower area, which is never a great impression for a potential homebuyer,” Davis says.

Builder-Grade Lighting
Perhaps you moved into your home and never swapped out the existing light fixtures. This is an all-too-common move among homeowners, but more often than not, these lights eventually look out of date. Specifically? Williamson cites “ornate chandeliers” and the dreaded “boob lights” as ones that should be replaced.

Try Adding Lamps
But if you can’t replace old overhead lighting for one reason or another, Williamson recommends adding lamps at eye level to pull the eye away from the overhead lighting.

Tuscan Style
Everyone seemed to be clamoring for “Tuscan style” back in the 2000s, but in modern times, “Unless you live in Italy, having everything in your home reflect a rustic Tuscan style is incredibly specific and less than optimal,” Williamson says. The style can include things like wrought-iron fixtures, cherry cabinets, deep-colored accent walls and other ornate details, which will “divert attention away from the home’s other selling points,” Williamson says.

Old Paint
Davis believes that paint is essential maintenance for a home. Not necessarily speaking to trending colors, she says that simply a “good refresh and re-coat” will do wonders for your space.

Try a Fresh Coat
“A fresh coat of paint will keep your home feeling clean and energized and is a simple way to offer a great impression for prospective homebuyers,” she adds.

Old Wallpaper
In the same vein, old wallpaper should be avoided as well. Particularly, Williamson says that wallpaper with “borders or an outdated pattern” immediately dates a home. And she says that while some homebuyers might feel a pang of nostalgia for Grandma’s house, they likely don’t want old-fashioned wallpaper in their own house.

Try a Neutral Backdrop
“Replace it with a more modern take on wallpaper or remove it altogether for a neutral backdrop,” she advises. “Decorating is more than just aesthetics,” reminds Davis. “A well-designed home will help your life stay organized and efficient, which in return will create a calm and welcoming environment.”


MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.