Few things are as exciting as remodeling your house. Who hasn’t swooned over glass tile, or groovy wallpaper, or some other cool idea for updating your digs? But this doesn’t mean you should buy into every renovation idea that catches your fancy.
The reason: Many seemingly hot trends aren’t as “timeless” as you might think—and same goes for a lot of the advice you might hear on how to make these upgrades happen. So before you sign that punch list, check this list of outdated remodeling tips that may have been fine to follow last year, but are currently on the outs.
Focus on the kitchen
The kitchen is no longer the room where you should be investing all your time and money. According to Sarah Karakaian, interior designer at Nestrs out of Columbus, OH, “Kitchens are important, but do not bring the highest ROI anymore.”
For better resale value today, focus on your outside space.
“Investing in your garage’s curb appeal, like a new door, will help you get more return on investment than your kitchen,” Karakaian says.
Always go for granite counters
Speaking of kitchens, granite has been the gold standard when it comes to countertops for decades, but it’s not the winner that it used to be.
“It was just a matter of time, but granite countertops are becoming old school,” says Robert Taylor, a rehabber in Sacramento, CA.
The reason: “Buyers are looking for lower-maintenance kitchen counters that lack granite’s need for regular sealing,” Taylor explains. “Because quartz is nonporous and harder than granite, it lasts longer.”
Sustainability points also go to this material. “Quartz countertops are recyclable and often include recycled materials,” Taylor adds. (Here’s more on types of countertops and their pros and cons.)
Bright white is best
If you’re a fan of color, it’s finally your time to shine.
“The all-white space is a thing of the past,” says Leah Tuttleman, corporate designer at Re-Bath. However, just because it’s time to tone down the white doesn’t mean it’s completely gone.
“Black and white are classic colors, unlike other colors that come and go. In combination, black and white will forever remain a classic—but it shouldn’t be overdone,” she explains.
This rings particularly true with your tile choices. Those black and white tile designs that have been “in” for decades are finally seeing their way out.
“If you are thinking of doing a renovation, stay away from black and white tiles in kitchens and baths,” adds Chrissy O’Donnell, associate broker with Re/Max West End in Northern Virginia. “Brighter colors are in style now.”
Additions are always a good idea
No one likes to feel crowded—especially in their own home—but that doesn’t mean you should jump right to adding more square footage to your home. In fact, doing so has started to take on a negative vibe.
“In an era where consumers are focused on minimizing carbon footprints, adding oversized master suites and nonessential living areas is outdated,” explains Scott Toal, president of Federal Brace, in Belmont NC.
“Current advice would direct the renovation toward maximizing functional areas that exists within the home and even to repurpose underutilized space to increase the efficiency of the structure,” he explains.
In other words, it’s time to figure out how to work with the space you’ve got.
Finish the basement ‘for the kids’
Don’t panic, finished basements are sill a thing. They’re just serving a different purpose these days.
“The old thought was, finish the basement and put the kids down there. Now basements are much more—man caves, sports bars, or people are adding kitchens and baths to accommodate aging family members moving in,” explains Will Faix, president of the Open Floor Plan in West Chester, PA.
“More and more, the finished basement is sought out by home buyers and will make your home sell for more and faster when the time comes,” Faix adds. But as an adult play space, not just for kids.
Just rip the whole thing out and start over!
You’ve seen it on all the home improvement shows, right? The best part of any renovation is demo day. But be careful where you aim that sledgehammer, because nowadays, salvaging what’s there can be trendy.
“Now the thinking is to conserve the charm and intent of a space, and make more minor improvements,” says Rebecca Rowland, owner of Rebecca Rowland Interiors in Seattle.
“Something like a pink tile, pink toilet, pink tub bathroom can be updated with a great wallpaper and new vanity to feel vintage and filled with character, but with a modern twist that helps it not feel quite so dated.”
Use a loan to pay for fixes
Not too long ago, homeowners wouldn’t blink at the thought of refinancing to pay for renovations. Recent history, however, should make you reconsider.
“Memories from 2008 should instill caution as to how much to borrow, potential for rising interest rates, resale value, and other events that could disrupt your financial situation,” warns designer Susan Serra, president of Susan Serra Associates. “Proceed with caution and second-guess the total cost commitment.”
It’ll be hard to enjoy your freshened space if it puts you in a tough financial situation. Instead, homeowners today have learned the value of saving for a project and finishing it without a mountain of debt.