6 Dated Kitchen Features Homebuyers Will Always Notice

published Dec 9, 2022
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After they walk through the front door, it’s not uncommon for buyers to make a beeline right to the kitchen — the living room can wait.

“The kitchen is the heart of the home,” says New York City real estate agent Carolyn Gagnon. “It’s the gathering spot for family conversations and social catch-ups, so of course it is one of the most important and biggest returns of investment in your home, if done correctly.”

Kitchen remodels routinely offer some of the best bang for your buck when it comes to home renovations. If you’re preparing to list your home for sale, you may want to spend a little extra time and money refreshing these dated kitchen features that homebuyers always notice.

Tile Countertops

Before quartz, marble, granite, and soapstone became prevalent, tile countertops were once a popular kitchen design choice, says Seattle real estate broker Fletch Newland

Not only do tile countertops make a kitchen look old and tired, but they’re also super hard to keep clean, which could be a huge turnoff to buyers. A large slab countertop, with an undermount sink, removes much of this hassle in more modern homes, he says.

“Crumbs, grease, and other typical kitchen flyabouts end up hanging on for dear life in the crevices between the tiles,” he says.

Cabinets with Vertical Wood Grain

Roughly 10 years ago, cabinets with a distinct vertical wood grain — think rift-cut oak and zebrawood — were all the rage. But not anymore, says New York City real estate agent Kate Wollman-Mahan. It’s a safer bet to go with something timeless and simple.

“I recently sold a beautiful two-bedroom Upper East Side condo with this kind of kitchen,” she says. “The cabinets were probably the number one complaint of potential buyers, despite their being in excellent condition. The couple who did buy it planned to renovate the kitchen before moving in.”

Trendy Backsplashes

It’s not your fault: Backsplash fads come and go fast enough to make your head spin, says Kate Ziegler, a real estate agent in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Unless they’re fairly neutral, backsplashes are a dead giveaway that a kitchen hasn’t been updated in a while.

“Glass mosaic tile was everywhere 10 years ago, but it ties a kitchen renovation to that period, no matter what other updates may have been completed since,” she says. 

Bold Countertops

Today’s buyers are looking for sleek, muted, neutral kitchen countertops, which can make dated color choices and materials stand out like a sore thumb, says real estate broker Rachel Lustbader. Replacing your kitchen counters is a major project — and an expensive one at that — but it may be worth every penny.

“Brown, white, and orange granite kitchen countertops were very popular in the early 2000s,” she says. “This material is an eyesore and unmistakably dates the room.”

All-White Appliances 

There are sleek, stylish, contemporary all-white appliances, sure. But many homes on the market today have older, clunkier models that look like they don’t belong in a home, says Scott Bergmann, a real estate agent in Omaha.

“All-white appliances tend to remind people of the office breakroom or a hotel,” he says. 

Too Much Clutter

It’s important for prospective buyers to walk into a kitchen and breathe a deep sigh of relief — especially if they love to cook. Too much clutter not only makes the space feel chaotic, but it’s also a sign that the kitchen hasn’t been updated. 

“For people who cook, a cluttered countertop is a sign that there isn’t enough storage space,” says real estate agent Mihal Gartenberg.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: The Dated Kitchen Features That Homebuyers Always Notice