6 Overdone Kitchen Trends, According to Real Estate Experts

updated Apr 20, 2020
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white modern kitchen with island

Making your home stand out to buyers is key to closing the deal in a timely manner. One unexpected factor that can make this difficult? Trends. There are some beloved (and timeless) looks that many homeowners adore. But when house hunters keep seeing the same contrived styles, the déjà vu effect activates, effectively switching off buyers’ interest. Being aware of these turn-offs can help sellers avoid the tired trend trap.

Below, real estate experts weigh in on popular trends that buyers are over. 

1. All-white everything

There’s nothing quite like the crisp, polished look of a white kitchen — which is probably why so many of us have them. But seeing these white kitchens repeatedly is starting to deter buyers. Krisztina Bell, founder of No Vacancy Home Staging in Atlanta, says there’s an easy fix for this: Paint your island or cabinets a shade of gray or navy blue.

“Everybody still likes [those colors], the color of the year with Sherwin Williams and then Pantone,” she says.

2. Impractical light fixtures

Light fixtures are a design element that can leave a powerful impression. But if a buyer sees out-of-the-box lamps or lights, the idea of buying new fixtures to replace them could feel daunting. 

“Several new homes have extremely modern light fixtures in a warm, cozy kitchen and no recessed lighting,” says Nashville-based realtor Zach Opheim. “This drives buyers [away] because yes, it looks cool, but you really don’t get the needed lighting you want for the entertaining hub of your home.” With the kitchen often serving as a main selling point of a house, you need to make sure buyers can see it. Aesthetic appeal can’t replace functionality here. 

3. Subway tiles

Subway tiles seem to go hand in hand with white kitchens. I’m a big fan of them (I have some in my own kitchen and bathroom), but buyers want to see something fresh. Shirin Sarikhani, the founder and CEO of Seattle Staged to Sell is seeing another type of tile take over.

“The new trend is adding interest [with] the tile getting more decorative,” she says. Tiling has always been a tried and true design element that can win over (or totally alienate) buyers. It turns out, house hunters don’t want the same old thing — they want tile that really wows.

4. Closed-off cabinetry

Open cabinets are only getting hotter, making closed-off cabinetry appear dated. When buyers tour a home, they’re looking for ways to customize it to fit their needs and aesthetic, without having to overhaul the place. Says Chicago-based realtor Amy Wu, “[Open shelving] creates the perfect setup for those who love a great decor option and open feel, which makes the space (and its owners) appear more inviting and trustworthy.” Any opportunity for buyers to envision showcasing their personality is key.

5. A few too many design details

Buyers are wary of highly stylized kitchens, not just because the styles might not fit their desired look, but also because it could take a lot of money and effort to convert the kitchen to a new design. 

“We are starting to see sleeker and minimalistic cabinetry that contributes to a modern and simple look,” Wu says. “This style eliminates handles and crown molding.” 

Sellers are finding ways to tone down their styles and eliminate highly personalized details so their kitchen attracts more potential buyers.

6. Being a one-trick pony

Real estate experts agree that the purpose of the kitchen is evolving. Whereas kitchens of the past served as command centers, today they’re all about unwinding. “It’s like the island is where everyone hangs out now for entertainment,” Bell says. “It’s not a two-barstool island anymore, it’s four to six.”

Shirin agrees, and emphasizes the need for kitchens to provide an escape. “People are going more and more for barstools that are more comfy and ‘lounge-y’… because again, this is becoming more of a comfortable place to linger longer.” Buyers want to see a cozy place for gathering, not an extension of their office.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 6 Overdone Kitchen Trends That Buyers Are Tired of, According to Real Estate Experts