If you’ve ever wondered what went on behind closed doors in your city, a look through local real estate listings might give you the answer: unfortunate paint color choices, an obsession with granite countertops, and enough clutter to supply a yard sale every weekend for years. And those are just the homes on the market, which should at least be trying to make their best impression.
Our homes may be a reflection of ourselves, but this philosophy can backfire when you’re putting a property up for sale. “What a seller likes may be too personal for a buyer,” says Jennifer Kjellgren, broker and owner of Intown Expert, a real estate firm in Atlanta.
If you’re about to enter the market and are in doubt about how your home’s style will appeal to buyers, here are the interior design trends that real estate experts have identified as potential ultimate buyer turnoffs.
Getting paint color wrong instantly turns off buyers — but it’s the cheapest thing to fix. “Almost always I say to stay away from bright colors,” says Kjellgren, who also identifies multiple-colored living spaces, dated colors (think mauve and hunter green), and metallics as problematic for sellers. Instead, she recommends greige, beige, soft white, and gray hues. Most important? Keep the paint color consistent throughout the home.
Shiny hardware and accessories
“One of the major trends now is all about chrome, metallic, and shiny finishes,” says Veronique Perrin, real estate salesperson at Charles Rutenberg LLC in New York. “I am all for these touches — I call them jewelry for your home — but it has gotten completely out of hand. I always quote Coco Chanel, who said, ‘Before you walk out the door, check in the mirror and take one accessory off.’ Do the same for your home just before it’s time for its close-up!”
Though you’ll see kitchens with plenty of brass, copper, and polished nickel on Pinterest, it’s worth it to go with the classics — like brushed nickel — and use them sparingly. “There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and subtle and understated always stands the test of time,” Perrin says.
It turns out that you can take the idea of an open floor plan too far. “The trend of an open master tub in the master bedroom should never have been started,” says F. Ron Smith, co-founder of Partners Trust and Leverage Global Partners in Beverly Hills, CA. “No one really wants to shower or bathe in the middle of a bedroom.”
It might have made sense to turn the spare bedroom into a space dedicated to your favorite hobby. The problem? A buyer sees this as an in-home yoga studio instead of a third bedroom. In the luxury market, such conversions are especially common in smaller spaces.
“Dedicated gyms that are the size of a maid’s room are underwhelming,” Smith says. “Don’t put a treadmill and yoga mat in to call it a gym. Proportion is everything.”
Some would argue that carpets never fully went out of style. While lush carpeting can feel like a dream underfoot and can be easier to maintain than other flooring options, many buyers see it as a downside (even if it’s high-quality carpet).
Everyone wants to see hardwood floors, says Jennifer Koen, who works with both stagers and developers as vice president of business development at luxury furniture consignment site Viyet.com. “They’re always in style, and work with any decor scheme,” she says.
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