Throwback Month

4 Trends Real Estate Experts Wish Had Stayed in the ’80s

published Apr 3, 2022
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According to Kristina Morales, strategic real estate advisor at MultifamilyCashin, architectural elements of homes largely escaped 1980s design trends — but the same can’t be said for interior design, where the vibrant culture of the era took hold.

“The ‘80s housing styles were about making a bold statement with color, shape, and materials,” she says. “Lucite and brass furniture and metal sculptures were everywhere. Bright colors and pastels were the height of home fashion.”

And as trend cycles have proven, everything that was old becomes new again. So some of those ‘80s styles are heading back into homes as deliberate design choices. This doesn’t always work out for the best, according to the real estate expert.

“The problem that I have with the resurgence in ‘80s decor isn’t the furniture and art, it’s when homeowners have created an ‘80s vibe with wall paint and fixtures,” Morales says. “This can make selling their home a challenge.”

If you want to avoid the ‘80s design pitfalls that could stall a house sale, stay away from these trends from the era.


And not just any pastel — particularly pastel pink. The color was everywhere in the ‘80s and it’s starting to show up again.

“There are certain times when pink can shine, especially in specific rooms where there is a theme,” said DJ Olhausen, a real estate agent with Realty ONE Group Pacific. “But I usually tell clients to beware of using this color throughout the entire house. Even though it was heavily used in the ‘80s, this comeback needs to be contained to small doses only. Remember, too much use of [pastels] can easily be a turnoff for potential homebuyers.”

Mirrors and Glass Blocks

A hallmark of ‘80s design? Glass everywhere. Mirrors and glass blocks were apparently a favorite stylistic choice of interior designers — and you might not want to make that mistake again.

“I’ve recently sold apartments with mirrors on the ceiling in the bathrooms, mirrors covering an entire wall in a bedroom, huge mirrored cabinets, mirrors in the entire entryway, and mirrored dining rooms,” says broker Dorothy Schrager of Coldwell Banker Warburg. “It’s one of the first comments by a prospective buyer and a big turn-off for buyers, especially if the rest of the apartment is in good shape and they weren’t planning on doing a ton of work.”

As for those glass block walls? They “look as if you are in a doctor’s office,” says agent Karen Kostiw, also of Coldwell Banker Warburg. (Though some agents love them!)


Too much brass — like in the kitchen faucets, cabinet hardware, and furniture — can appear cheap, says Olhausen. And though it can look great in modern settings, you don’t want to go overboard.

“The trick is to use this finish sparingly and in a way that pulls the rest of the room together,” Olhausen says. “While I don’t necessarily dislike the use of brass in homes, I do know my clients can fetch a higher listing price by using a more modern touch.”

Exuberant Designs

Excess was the name of the game in the 1980s, and today, an overabundance of patterns (particularly floral curtains) and design comes across as too busy and very specific to the homeowner’s taste.

“Rooms where the wallpaper, drapes, and furniture all match with exuberant and over-the-top designs should be left for museums or art installations,” Kostiw says.

This piece is part of Throwback Month, where we’re revisiting vintage styles, homes, and all kinds of groovy, retro home ideas. Boogie on over here to read more!