What is making your house look dated right now?

Traditional design is having a moment. A scroll through any interior designer’s social media will have you nose-to-screen, drooling over intricate wallpaper, moody paint hues, vintage brass fixtures. Those of us who aren’t brilliant, talented interior designers may want to take a stab at recreating the look in our own spaces. So, we do what anyone else would do—we head to a thrift store or second-hand shop and start amassing a collection of oil paintings, unique fixtures, and anything that feels luxe but old-world. But when we get home and start putting pieces into place—do they feel right? Or are you wondering if perhaps you’ve encroached into grandmother territory (and, no, we’re not talking about grandmillennial territory).

As it turns out, there is a balance in curating a home so it looks elegant, eclectic, and styled rather than drab, dowdy, or (dare we say it?) old. Of course, you have your staple culprits: popcorn ceiling, outdated appliances, and so on. But there are a number of items you should steer clear of as you’re designing your home so it doesn’t look dated.

Matchy-Matchy Furniture Sets
There’s two ways this can go: Either a living room set that is entirely the same fabric, color, and print, or a living room set that looks like you stole it right off of a showroom floor. Whichever way you toss it, you’re crossing over into “dated” territory.

Of course, you still want the room to go together—so how do you achieve a cohesive look?

Select a piece of furniture that is your centerpoint or your touchstone—maybe it’s a family heirloom; a piece you saved up for, finally purchased, and are so proud of; or simply a sofa that you really love. All other pieces should revolve around that focal piece. For example, if the sofa that you really love is a plush blue velvet sofa, your accompanying chairs shouldn’t be the same color or material. Rather, opt for accent chairs that are complementary, such as a gray or off-white, or even complementary contrasting colors like orange or yellow. 

Bad Lighting
Please, let this be the year that overhead lighting becomes an afterthought. Overhead lighting, particularly in living and sleeping spaces, tends to be harsh and somehow never the right tone (we’re looking at you, yellow bulbs).

Instead, opt for soft, low light through table lamps or low reading lamps. If you don’t have the space for a ton of strategically-placed lamps, consider getting a dimmer installed on your overhead lights so you can soften the space as needed.

Plastic Kitchen Features
If you’re in a rental space, there may not be much you can do about this, but if you have the flexibility to rip up your old vinyl flooring, run don’t walk to the nearest hardware store. At the end of the day, anything plastic—plastic flooring, plastic covered kitchen appliances, etc.—instantly date your space. Not to mention, they’re lousy for the environment. If you have the ability to invest in quality features and appliances, they will be timeless (and beautiful).

Carpet Everywhere
Who remembers a time when there was even carpet in the bathrooms? We shudder at the thought. While carpet feels cozy on the toes when you first get out of bed in the morning, that doesn’t mean it should be in every room. Room-to-room carpet can instantly date your space—not to mention the wear and tear over time can make the space look more dingy than it is.

If you have hardwood floors living underneath all that carpet, let it out in all of its glory.

Sheer or Short Drapery
Lacy or sheer drapery, or curtains that fall just below the window are easy-to-fix features that are dating your space. Opt instead for curtains that break roughly ¼-inch to ½-inch above the ground. If you have lower ceilings, you can opt to place your curtain rod above your window frame to give the illusion of height.

The best fabrics to shop from include organic, sustainable fabrics like linen, hemp, or bamboo, or even textured options like velvet, silk, or woven or embroidered fabrics. 

However, the best interior design is the design you feel great about. If you feel comfortable, confident, and at ease in your home, that is the most important.

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