When it comes to designing your home, it can be tempting to take inspiration from history and opt for more retro design choices. But take care which ones you incorporate into modern living, as not all outdated trends are worth revisiting. Here, we reveal the 19 retro choices that might make your space outdated, garish, tacky, or impractical!
Ceilings plastered with a textured appearance (akin to popcorn!) were a popular, practical choice in the ‘70s due to their ability to hide damage or blemishes and dampen noise. But Bob Vila reports that, nowadays, many people are seeking to replace or cover such bumpy ceilings in favor of sleeker, more modern, and easy-to-clean flat plaster.
Remember bathrooms with nautical themes resplendent with buoys, lighthouses, and anchors? While a strong theme might seem cute, Real Simple warns that they quickly become dated and kitschy while being particularly off-putting to potential buyers, should you ever choose to move. Instead of going ‘all out’ with a theme, choose a few of your favorite elements instead.
Wallpaper became especially popular in the 1970s and remains so, although styles and placement trends have changed. However, edging a strong print with an equally patterned border can make your home look dated and visually cluttered. Try teaming wallpaper with contemporary paint colors instead, and avoid mixing too many patterns.
In the past, brass fixtures, like taps and plugholes in bathrooms and kitchens, were common but declined in popularity after the millennium. Kallista says they can tarnish over time, making them look dull and unattractive. So, unless you’re renovating an older home, you might want to consider more modern finishes like chrome or matte black.
Heavy Window Treatments
The ‘70s and ’80s brought a trend for heavy, ornate curtains with valances, swags, and even fringe! (GalaxyDraperies). While they may have been practical in blocking out light, they were fussy, hard to clean, and often made a home feel dark or cluttered. Opt for lighter, more minimalist window treatments for a brighter, more modern aesthetic.
While it may be tempting to opt for inexpensive wood-look or faux marble finishes, cheap paint effects or veneers can look inauthentic and tacky, according to Houzz. They are also unconvincing unless done by a competent professional and may not be to everyone’s taste, potentially making selling your home a problem.
Stickers and other wall decals were once a popular way to add images or even text to bare walls. However, time has proven them less than durable, with peeling and discoloration becoming common problems after a few years. We recommend investing in quality artwork or framed photographs instead.
Carpet in Bathrooms
Inter NACHI claims carpeted bathrooms are unhygienic and says, “In addition to potential mold growth beneath the carpet, bacteria can accumulate in carpeting that surrounds the toilet.” This is definitely one to avoid! Stick to waterproof, easy-to-clean surfaces like tile or linoleum instead.
The odd bookshelf can be homely and welcoming, but rows and rows of cluttered shelves make a space feel cluttered and claustrophobic. While they might still have a place in the library of a stately home, modern homes will look too chaotic with such a design. Instead, opt for a mix of tidy shelves and closed cabinets to hide the least attractive junk!
Remember the ‘80s trend for perfectly matching floral patterns on every available surface? While it may seem tempting to have furniture, soft furnishings, and wall coverings in identical prints or colors, modern décor has embraced more selective design choices. We don’t recommend ‘blanketing’ your home in one style, as it can look unappealingly gaudy and unimaginative.
Architectural Digest writes that the early ‘90s brought an unusual trend of Tuscan-inspired dark woods and an over-use of earthy tones like terracotta. Unless you live in a Tuscan cottage, it’s not recommended nowadays; instead, try lighter, more contemporary color palettes and reserve earthy tones for statement walls or one-off furniture pieces.
Plastering your space with every memento, fridge magnet, and pretty shell you’ve ever owned may sound like a great way to personalize your space, but it leads to excessive clutter. Not only are knick-knacks cheap-looking and visually ‘noisy,’ but they make a home difficult to clean and attract dust. Choose your favorite items and hide the rest away instead.
The 1970s brought a love of large windows and sliding doors, and vertical blinds offered a practical way to ensure optimal light and privacy. While they still offer benefits, they’ve now been replaced by more modern alternatives like zebra blinds and voile curtains. Nowadays, they’re only seen in offices and public spaces, and we don’t recommend them for modern homes.
The 1980s changed the preferred color palette from earthy tones to more futuristic limes, cyans, and magentas! But unless you want your house to look like the local nightclubbing strip, we don’t advise on predominantly neon color palettes. Neon colors (particularly in excess) can be overwhelming, cold, and hard to live with.
Built-In TV Units
These large, often custom-built entertainment units housed everything from the TV to the stereo, but they can dominate and over-complicate a modern home. The Tennessean suggests repurposing them instead—or you could consider modular or freestanding furniture that’s less intimidating and more flexible.
Taking inspiration from practical buildings may not necessarily be a bad thing, but too much bare concrete, rusting metal, and exposed girders can make your house feel like a warehouse, not a home. Strike a balance by mixing industrial elements with color and soft textiles to create a cool yet cozy atmosphere.
This floor covering was all the rage in the ‘70s, but excessively long-piled carpet deflated over time and hides all kinds of dust, dirt, and bacteria! Plus, it looks a bit too retro nowadays. Instead, choose luxurious rugs over hardwood flooring or more hygienic modern carpeting.
There’s definitely a fine line between practically minimalistic and depressingly barren. Take care not to take minimalism too far, or you might end up with a home that people don’t like being in, including you! Add a few personal touches, soft furnishings, decorative items, and color, or you might feel like you’re living on a blank canvas!
Too Much Color
Living in a sea of greys and blacks may be boring, but be careful not to go too far in the other direction, either. While bright colors add vibrancy and interest, make sure that the colors you use complement each other and don’t use too many at once. Otherwise, your home may feel overwhelmingly hectic.
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