OK, so your home isn’t a thoroughly modern masterpiece. (Join the club.) The good news? Many outdated American home trends are totally fixable…without breaking the bank. Here’s how to usher your home into a new era—without going broke or living through a construction hellscape.
5 Seriously Outdated Home Trends—and How to Fix Them Without Renovating
1. Granite Counters
Good old hard-wearing granite became the hot countertop material in the late '80s and early '90s. Fast-forward to present day? The granite bubble has burst (in favor of low-upkeep materials like quartz) and it’s telltale shininess might no longer be your thing.
Solution: Hone Them
Ever heard of honing? It’s an on-site procedure (typically done by a handyman) where stone is aggressively wet-sanded down with abrasive pads. This process buffs away any shininess—leaving a matte, milky finish that’s super reminiscent of soapstone on black granite counters. The best part about this option? A) No demo! and B) It costs half as much as replacing the countertops entirely.
Photo: Marta Perez; Design: Jana Bek
2. Dingy Tile
You tiled your bathroom several years ago and now? Things are looking pretty scuzzy and eroded.
Before you budget out a new bathroom, consider regrouting your tile—or hiring someone to do it for you. This process entails removing the old, icky grout with a power tool and spreading new grout between your existing tiles to the tune of just $30 (give or take) in material costs. Here’s a great DIY tutorial.
3. Wall-to-wall Carpeting
From the '50s through the beige-tastic '90s, carpeting was considered an affordable and—yes, OK, fine—rather comfortable alternative to hardwoods. But oh good Lord does it look dated (and stained) now.
Solution: Layer Up
Rather than rehabbing the likely-damaged floors below, lean into the whole soft-and-smushy room treatment and buy a chic, big rug to place on top. Layered rugs (think: carpeting topped with a Moroccan dhurrie topped with an animal hide) is a super contemporary styling trick that earns extra makeover points by being 100 percent non-invasive.
Design: McGrath II
4. Wood Paneling
Nothing says “I haven’t touched my home since 1967” quite like wood and faux-wood paneling. This retro treatment graced walls and ceilings in abundance throughout the baby boomer years. And while some maintain that there’s a certain kitschy charm, the look is definitely dark and dated AF.
Fun fact: Ye olde knotty pine is actually just shiplap waiting for a white paintbrush. While we’re always fans of brightening up a space with white paint, it’s an especially gratifying transformation on a textured surface, where you get a crisp canvas and added visual interest.
Design: Marie Flanigan Interiors
5. Prefab Architecture
Another fugly time in American architecture? The pre-recession early 2000s, when a booming ecomomy led developers to churn out McMansions at warp speed. These interiors are notable for their lack of interior interest and generic trimmings (see: moldings, trimwork etc.)
Solution: Add Moldings
A trip to your local hardware store or lumberyard will yield all kinds of add-on architectural goodies—which you can install yourself or hire a handyman to wrangle. Think: thick window trimmings, heightening crown molding or even textural wall paneling (note the coffered accent wall at the back of this space). Don’t love old-world character? Strip the walls completely clean and add some textural plasterwork instead, as an edgy, modern alternative. (See here for inspo.)