The Dated Living Room Features That Homebuyers Always Notice

published Oct 2, 2022
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old couch from the 70s, in a basement
Credit: MYP Studio

It’s hard to keep up with all the various interior design trends, especially if you’re a homeowner on a budget. Yet plenty of design choices, some more than others, just scream “outdated!” from the top of their lungs when prospective buyers walk through a home. 

Below, real estate agents share a few of the most obvious — and potentially detrimental — dated features homebuyers always notice while touring living rooms.

Wall-to-Wall Mirrors

Yikes. Buyers may take one look at their reflection in a living room’s wall-to-wall mirrors and head for the hills. Though they were once popular in the 1970s and ‘80s, big mirrors just aren’t “in” anymore.

“Sometimes these things can remind them of their parents’ or grandparents’ homes, which can be a turn-off,” says real estate broker Kimberly Jay.

Drab Paint Colors

Murky brown, dreary burgundy, and other dark, dingy paint colors — especially greens — are an immediate giveaway that no one has touched the living room in years, says New York real estate broker Dorothy Schrager.

“Green walls signify old and staid,” she says. “People are looking for bright and new, so paint the walls a light color.”

Carpeting

Carpet has gotten a bad rap over the years — and for good reason. It can trap debris and it stains easily. While some homeowners find it acceptable in certain rooms of the house, such as the bedrooms, the living room is a big no-no, Schrager says. She described carpeting as “one of the most unsightly features” a living room can have — better to go with hardwood, laminate, tile, or some other flooring material instead.

“If you plan on selling, pick it up and make sure your floors are clean and polished,” she says. “Area rugs are fine, but wall-to-wall carpets cover floors that could have many issues such as water damage or cracks. They are often frowned upon as being dirty and harboring dirt and odors.

Brown Furniture

Sure, you’ll (likely) be taking the furniture with you when you move. But prospective buyers are very swayed by their initial impressions, and furniture plays a big role in shaping the overall look, feel, and vibe of a living room. Brown furniture, in particular, is a huge turnoff, says real estate agent Andrea Wernick.

“It immediately signals to the buyers ‘old’ and ‘tired,’” she says. “It was a popular color many years ago, but it is not a modern color anymore.”

Strange Smells

Buyers don’t just tour homes with their eyes. They also use their other senses, including — and perhaps most importantly — their noses. And a stinky, stale, dank, smoky, or otherwise foul-smelling living room will send them running out the front door, Wernick says.

Bar Areas

While you may find a bar area convenient for refilling your drink as you watch Netflix, buyers won’t be so keen when they walk into your living room and see one.

“Unless you’re Don Draper, those bars need to be replaced with more functional features or taken out to create more openness in the space,” says Andrew Pasquella, a real estate agent in Malibu, California.