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What worked in 1980 doesn’t necessarily work in 2012. Don’t believe us? Look in your closet. Chances are, you’ve weeded out the parachute pants, leg warmers and shoulder pads. Similarly, interior design choices are cyclic. Even expensive, must-have features eventually become outdated and need to be replaced.

Is your home stuck in a time warp? That’s fine, if that’s what you like. But if you’re contemplating selling, you’ll want to eliminate the generation gap between your house and potential buyers. Where to start? These 10 outdated features are among the biggest offenders:

Colored porcelain

Toilets should not be red or pink or black or blue or green. This should go without saying, but neither should your sink or bathtub. Think white. If not white, think bisque. Just say “no” to the bathroom rainbow.

Mauve

This color was hot in the 1980s and 1990s. Dusty rose found its way into homes via carpeting, furniture, drapery, bedding and wall color. What’s this season’s “it” color? The folks at Pittsburgh Paints suggest a palette made of red berries, modest muted stone and solid, reliable brown. Of course, if you’re intent on selling, neutrals are still the safest way to go.

Wood paneling

This once-popular wall covering will send potential home buyers running the other way (unless, perhaps, it’s solid, well-cared-for wood in a traditional cabin in the woods). You can paint over the wood grain, but you’ll be left with the telltale grooves of the paneled surface. You can skim the paneling with plaster, sand, prime and paint to make it look like drywall. A more expensive, time-consuming option is to remove the paneling and rebuild or repair the underlying walls.

Popcorn ceilings

Also known as cottage cheese or acoustic ceilings, this spray-on or paint-on ceiling treatment primarily was used from the late 1950s into the 1980s. These bumpy, dust-loving ceilings can be softened with water and scraped off with a trowel or putty knife. It’s a messy job and one you may want to leave to a pro since the earliest versions of these ceilings contained asbestos. Note: The only thing more outdated than a popcorn ceiling is a dropped, acoustic-tile ceiling that was installed to hide a popcorn ceiling.

Fluorescent lighting

Yes, we know that compact fluorescent light bulbs are energy efficient, and we know that new technology allows for warmer, softer, dimmable lighting. Those aren’t the lights on our most-wanted list; the real offenders are those commercial-style tube lights that are great for office buildings and not-so-great on kitchen ceilings. Replace one of these stark fixtures, and you’ll soon be seeing the light.

Gold-plate

When it comes to faucets and other plumbing fixtures, gold is the odd man out. Some designers predict that gold – in the form of brushed or matte faucets – may make a comeback, but today’s buyers appear to be much more interested in brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze. Shiny builder-grade brass is simply not an aesthetic for the ages.

Faux finishes

 

Sponge painted walls were hip in the 1990s. Now, they just look like walls that didn’t get a good coat of paint – same for rag rolling and stippling. The one faux finish that seems to have stood the test of time is a Venetian plaster finish, but even this Old World look must be done well and in the right setting. Prime, paint and get rid of the faux.

Wallpaper borders

Wallpaper is making a comeback, wallpaper borders are not. If you’ve got a 6- to 12-inch wide border hanging at the top or beltline of a room, take it down; it’s simply not doing you any favors. Babies’ rooms are the one place where borders are still stylish. Even then, you’d be wise to consider a removable wall decal instead of paste-on trim.

Bad carpet

Wall-to-wall carpet that’s worn or stained can make your home incredibly difficult to sell. Clean dirty carpets. If they can’t be cleaned, replace them. Even if they are in great shape, buyers will run the other way when they see carpet in outdated colors or patterns (floral! plaid!). Worst of all: shag.

Counterproductive countertops

Buyers hate worn, cracked laminate countertops and backsplashes. They’re also not crazy about ceramic-tile countertops with grimy grout or plastic cultured marble vanities. Today’s most fashionable countertops are wearing granite, marble, limestone or soapstone. If natural stone doesn’t fit into your budget, you can update with new, more affordable counters in concrete, tile or laminate.

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About the Author

Mary was a newspaper writer/editor for 13 years and worked as spokesperson for a Fortune 500 Company before becoming a freelance writer. She has authored more than two dozen books for young readers and writes for a handful of regional home and garden magazines.

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