13 Things That Make Any Home Look Dated

There’s a line between tastefully old-school and unpleasantly outdated.

Once upon a time, when you first moved into your home, you likely decorated exactly to your taste. Perhaps you attempted a timeless look with the goal of remaining stylish for years to come, or maybe you surrounded yourself with the latest trends of the time, hoping that they would stick. No matter your best intentions, the fact remains that styles change, as do our tastes. What was once standard, or even the height of home fashion, may now seem antiquated. As you grow and progress with the years, so too should your home. The last thing you want is to feel trapped in an outdated dead-ringer for a decade past. From antiques to classic styles and vintage inspirations, we love bringing things of old into our home. However, there’s a line between tastefully old-school and unpleasantly outdated. If you feel like your home is stuck in the past but just can’t put your finger on why, designers say that one of these things may be the offending item.

Dated kitchen


Tuscan Themes

If your home is decorated in Old World rustic style, filled with orange and gold undertones, a sun-baked look, and perhaps even an olive motif or two, it may be time for an update. Dallas, Texas-based interior designer Janice Burkhart is especially sick and tired of this look. “The Old World looks with things like textured walls with golden tones, drapery that has an orange undertone, and all-brown furniture have got to go,” she says, suggesting reupholstering furniture and a new coat of paint to start.


Granite countertops are a sure-fire way to make your home look dated, designers say. “There isn’t any granite out there that would suffice for a countertop in the kitchen at this point,” says Burkhart. Rather, consider stones like quartz, marble, or soapstone for your next upgrade. “There's so much quartz out there that you can get at a great price point and that looks better.”

Tile Countertops

Even more grave than granite according to designers, tile countertops are a major no-no and blazing signal of an outdated home. “Tile was a nightmare,” Burkhart insists.

Time Capsuling 

A time-capsule effect—where your home is distinctly reminiscent of a particular time long ago—can happen one of two ways: Either organically, with trends fading into a tacky signifier of times past, or retroactively by introducing antiques catered solely to one time period. The trick to introducing vintage pieces and styles, is to not trap yourself into one time period. Incorporate old (including varying degrees of old!) with new to fashionably keep up to date with seasoned elements.

Oddly Scaled Antiques

“I do love antiques and vintage, but scale is one thing that can sometimes make an antique look dated,” says Dallas interior designer Noel Pittman. “People's houses have gotten subsequently bigger and bigger over the years but a lot of antiques are from when people had smaller homes. An antique console for a dining room in 1920 might look diminutive in a modern dining room, so you might think about using it somewhere else or pairing it with chairs so that it reads larger.”

Orange Wood

From the cabinets to the floors, orange-stained wood reeks of times past, Burkhart says. A new wood stain could be the fix you need to catapult your home into modern times. “Wood is always great as long as it’s not an orange color,” she says.

Travertine Tile

Whether you’re working with travertine tiles with holes or tumbled travertine, Burkhart advises that these tiles can date your home. “Travertine looks in castles that have been in for hundreds and hundreds of years,” she says,”but houses built with the tiles in 2005 or 2008 with travertine should probably be changed.”

Standard Overlay Cabinets

“One of the biggest telltale signs of being outdated, especially here in Texas, is the cabinetry,” revelas Burkart. Here’s what to look for in your home, whether in the Lone Star State or beyond. When it comes to cabinet doors, she explains that there’s two types of trims: full overlay and standard. “The standard overlay immediately dates anything because you know exactly that it was built in 2000.”

Built-In Entertainment Systems

We’re willing to bet that once upon a time, your built-in was a prized piece of your home decor. They were built to make room for the chunky yet smaller-screened televisions of yesterdays, but nowadays, likely restrict the size of TV you’re able to have. Between the system and the decades-old TV you’re unable to replace without giving the whole thing the boot, the effect is a dated one.

Drab Wallpaper Patterns

Wallpaper is all the rage right now, and oh do we love it so. However, designers don’t recommend choosing just any old pattern. While vintage-looking grandmillennial floral wallpapers can be pleasantly old-timey, avoid damask and acanthus leaf patterns at all costs. 

Iron Light Fixtures

Now, designers note that iron light fixtures as an unpleasant sign of past times. Burkhart says they have an undesirable heavy look that has a dating effect. Pitman also notes that while Sputnik lighting had a moment recently, that revival trend proved short-lived and may soon be a dated beacon.

White Appliances 

Stainless steel appliances overtook white, pebble-textured ones long ago, making any remnants seem dated. Nowadays, a kitschy white fridge or dishwasher may take the whole kitchen into the past.


“It's so seldom that we are doing carpet anywhere anymore,” Burkhart says, noting exceptions like closets and kids’ rooms. “Carpet just does not last 20 years. I don't care how clean you keep it, it looks matted and worn over time. It's just a sign of age.”

Too Much Wear And Tear

While we’re still staunchly opposed to a sterile home environment, some maintenance and upkeep certainly needs to persist. A lived-in home is comforting, but one that looks like it’s seen way better days, with furniture on its last legs, can appear dated.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles