Style is as individual as human beings are, but we can generally agree that there are some style trends that should be left in the past — some in the very recent past, others long ago — because they make your rooms look, well, terrible. And dated. Before you jump on the latest home decorating bandwagon, consider how these super-popular decor trends have fared and imagine whether you’re still going to think your latest design obsession looks cutting-edge in a year or three.
We’re not saying that it was ever a good look to resemble a hoarder, but there was a time where just the “right amount” of clutter was a decorative goal. That eclectic, bohemian look involving lots of different items and patterns and … stuff … just all over the place is officially over. And thank goodness, too, because keeping all those tchotchkes dusted and the surfaces cleaned is tough.
… And too much minimalism
Just as bad as too much clutter is the bland, too-neutral hotel-room look. Hey, clean lines and white or neutral everything is awesome in moderation, but when they are all over your house with no color or pops of interest to draw your eye, it can make your place feel soulless and flat.
Pop quiz: What smells do you associate with a room with curtains or valances that precisely match the furniture upholstery? If “musty” and “mildewed” made your list, congratulations — you passed! When everything is matchy-matchy, it makes your house look like it was decorated decades ago and then inhabited by someone with no intention of changing anything ever.
Look, these were cool for a little while, in that whole minimalist-industrial kind of way — but the light they emit is harsh, and there are so many better light fixtures (and bulbs) that will make your home shine. Pack the Edison bulbs away, please.
Fake plants instead of real
Some silk plants are very well made and impossible to differentiate from real plants at a glance … but those are few and far between. Most of them age quickly, getting dusty and ragged around the leaf edges, and when there are so many houseplants you could be nourishing suited for every light level and size of the room, why go fake?
Obsessions with monochrome
Just like matched patterns, homes that are done all in a single color only help to date that home, depending on the color. People are going to associate the all-gray look heavily with 2017 and 2018, for example, and you can probably think of other instances of color taking over a dwelling.
Appliances and bathroom fixtures with color
Another color that’s going to be forever associated with an era is avocado green with the 1970s when you saw fridges, stoves, bathtubs and sinks and showers and more in the shade. The cherry-red KitchenAid stand mixer on your counter is one thing, but please reconsider before opting for fixtures with color.
Maybe it seems like we’re picking in the 1970s, but decorators tend to agree this was a distinctly awful era in home decoration, so this won’t be the last time a trend from that decade appears on this list. Macrame everywhere is another easy way to make your house look immediately dated.
Plastic furniture covers
Sure, they protect your furniture — but at what price? They’re not comfortable to sit on and they look awful. It’s a good way to make everyone who sits down in your living room feel like they aren’t at home.
These don’t generally do a great job of blocking the light, are a pain to open and close, and don’t look all that nice when they’re either open or closed.
This has been around since the 1960s, but it was suddenly revitalized in the ’90s and so you still see it here and there from time to time. It’s impossible to sit on with bare skin (especially in the heat) and it’s not all that comfortable, either, so there’s no sense in indulging in the inflatable trend if it comes back again.
Linoleum was really popular when it came out in the middle of the 20th century, and it’s easy to understand why it was a hit: Easier to clean than other flooring options and offered in bright, inviting patterns. But it doesn’t wear well, shows damage prominently, and will end up making your kitchen or bathroom look shabby or sad in a few years.
There’s no reason to eliminate all the exposed brick and metal aesthetic from your life, but the industrial look is another one that’s going to be specifically pinned to an era before much longer. Softening up those industrial-driven spaces with more traditional furniture and fixtures can go a long way toward giving your decor longevity.
This is another trend firmly linked to the 1970s, and there’s a good reason why it really hasn’t experienced a revival since then — it’s incredibly inconvenient. It gets dirty at the drop of a hat and is impossible to clean; even vacuuming it can be problematic. Maybe at some point in the future, new advances in microfibers will make shag carpeting both stain-proof and self-cleaning, but until that day comes, opt for a style that has more staying power.
Wood has a lovely texture and looks in nature, but too much wood in one place is overwhelming and can make rooms feel cavernous and uncomfortable. This includes veneers and shiplap! Use wood to accent your rooms and in your furniture — or even on the ceiling — but walls and walls and walls of wood could be too much.
These were all the rage for a time in the 1980s and 1990s, either applied where the wall meets the ceiling or at about waist height to divide walls around a room. With so many better options in paint and wallpaper available today, there’s no reason to use a border.
Some people absolutely love animal prints everywhere, and many of them are adolescent girls who throw them all over their rooms because they simply don’t know any better. It might be unfair, but that’s why a home entirely decorated in animal prints seems a little immature.
Whether or not you hunt is beside the point, which is this: Your home is not a hunting lodge (most likely), and animal heads and skins or other parts used to decorate your house should be used in strict moderation, if at all. Many who eat meat still experience discomfort in a room full of hunting trophies, and they might not feel welcome in your home.
These look fine, but cleaning them is a pain (especially the grout) and they’re associated with a particular period in kitchen and bathroom decor. A single slab of marble or granite will serve you much better than tile.
Glass block walls
For a while, homes were being built with those blurred glass blocks to allow light to pass through walls while still physically delineating boundaries. You can get more light with skylights, fixtures, or even a bulb upgrade in this day and age, and considering you can still kind of see through the glass, it makes sense to eschew these blocks in favor of something else.
We’ve already established that wood paneling is too much wood, and homes decorated in that trend where all the furniture and cabinets are pine tend to suffer from that same feeling of overwhelm.
These are much maligned in decorating circles, and for good reason. For a while they were ubiquitous, but thankfully they’ve been phased out in favor of other ceiling styles, and now they’re not only ugly but dated.
Words on walls
The decals made them so easy, and everybody else was doing it, but we’ve all seen the homes where someone went just that edge overboard with the inspirational quotes and words on walls. Instead of plastering your house with word decals, choose decorative items that are meaningful in a similar way but that spark a conversation instead of trumpeting your viewpoint.
Elaborate window treatments
Valances and swags have come in and out of style, but if you want your window treatments to seem timeless, opt for something simple and classic over an elaborate, trendy mess. Simple curtains or even wooden blinds that fit the window correctly and cover the entire window can go a long way toward helping your house look constantly up to date.