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22 Ways Your House Can Make You Look Older Than You Are

If you're sitting in your Barcalounger or reading this on your bulky desktop computer, your house might be dating you. See if any more of these signs sound familiar.

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clutterLeonardo Emiliozzi/Shutterstock

You have tchotchke overload

There’s a fine line between a collection and clutter. OK, the line is not so fine. A well-curated collection of meaningful items proudly and neatly displayed is a great way to personalize your space. But a mess of crowded knickknacks—especially if they look cheap or mass-produced and have no rhyme or reason—is a surefire way to age yourself. These 100 essential cleaning hacks will change your life.

2 / 22

You use lace doilies, and not ironically

If there’s one thing that could make an unwieldy tchotchke collection look even more dated, it’s lace doilies placed beneath them. There’s a reason we associate these cloths with grandmas of another era. The doily became popular in the 19th century when knowing how to crochet was a status symbol for young women. Don’t miss these cheap decorating ideas that will make your home seem more expensive.

3 / 22

You keep obviously fake flowers and plants

Faux flowers and plants have enjoyed a modern Renaissance in recent years, but those stale-looking bouquets—the ones with visible stitching, plastic stems, and an inch of dust—can make it look like your decor style peaked in the 1980s. Here are 10 seriously cool succulents that make great houseplants—and they’re real!

4 / 22
TVSvetoslav Radkov/Shutterstock

You watch the news on a big, clunky TV

Remember when TVs had humpbacks? That’s where the set stored its cathode ray tube, but modern technology eliminated that component and made flat-panel TVs slim and sleek. But here’s the thing: Flat-panel TVs aren’t so new anymore. So having one of those clunkers in your sitting room could make you look a tad out of touch.

5 / 22

You keep a big, clunky computer in your home office

Televisions are not the only things that got a slimming makeover. Early desktop computers were pretty bulky, but by the early aughts, we’d pretty much all moved on to sleek monitors and laptop computers. Now it’s rare to see one of these relics. Don’t be a relic, too!

6 / 22

You’re cool with that dark wood wall paneling

Wood paneling was a staple in many a mid-century home, but eventually, it just made a room look dark and stuffy. Changing it out can be costly, so it’s not uncommon for homeowners to paint their paneling white to lighten things up. If your dark paneling is an intentional style choice, it might make you seem over-the-hill. Check out these 12 incredible, stylish shiplap walls.

7 / 22

You lounge in an oversized recliner

Attached to your old Barcalounger? There’s no doubt this overstuffed easy chair with its side lever is comfortable, but stylistically, it could make its owner (you) look like a fossil. Luckily, there are plenty of modern recliners that let you relax in luxury without maintaining a dated eyesore in your decor.

8 / 22

You still have valances

Hang sheer panels. Install wooden blinds. Just please don’t use droopy valances above your windows—or boxy ones that match the curtains. This time-warp window treatment keeps your style stuck in a bygone era. Time to let in the light. Here are 10 window treatments we love.

9 / 22
carpetingSuzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

You rock that wall-to-wall shag carpeting

The year 1974 called and said it would like its shag carpeting back, so that’s a good excuse to banish this mortal sin of archaic decor from your home. Yes, it may feel good underfoot, but it’s not a good look on young, modern you!

10 / 22

You love Tiffany lamps

These sweet, stained-glass lamps enjoyed a heyday about a century ago. While the distinct lighting style still has its share of fans, Tiffany glass just doesn’t jibe with modern, more youthful decor. And because it’s so colorful, it’s a very obvious old-fashioned element in your home. Don’t miss the 8 tricks interior decorators would never tell you for free.

11 / 22

You have wallpaper borders

You may have peeped your share of wallpaper borders in the 1980s, but designers and homeowners soon came to realize this wall-dividing trick actually visually shortens the room. So wallpaper borders went the way of, well, wallpaper! Modern wallpapers have emerged to adorn accent walls of today’s homes, so don’t hang on to that horrid border. Here’s how to remove your dated wallpaper.

12 / 22

You have floral furniture everywhere

If ever there was a word that encapsulates dated decor, it’s “chintzy,” named after chintz fabric usually with floral patterns and very popular in 1980s homes. But floral furniture has become an outmoded trend, and quite a loud one at that. Keep these flowery sofas in your family room and you’re practically screaming, “Let’s watch Golden Girls!”

13 / 22
White acoustic popcorn ceiling textureNC_1/Shutterstock

Your ceilings are textured

You know the ones—they look like somebody threw handfuls of cottage cheese up in the air and it all just stuck there. “Those were mostly from the 1970s and 1980s, and they’re an immediate giveaway that a home hasn’t been renovated for a while,” says Kerra Michele Huerta of Kerra Michele Interiors in Washington, D.C. The good news is, ceilings are easy to update. They can be covered with planks or the textured material can be scraped off, but bring in a professional if you go that route, says Huerta. “Wetting and scraping the ceiling makes a huge mess; it’s better to hire someone so you don’t have to deal with the massive cleanup afterward.” On the other hand, here are 11 home updates you can easily DIY.

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interior of an old simple kitchen that should be renovatedDario Lo Presti/Shutterstock

Your kitchen is stocked with white- or cream-colored appliances

“These can really date a home; black is the current trend,” says Huerta. And for those who don’t like black, stainless steel is more classic and won’t go out of style any time soon. Replacing appliances can be expensive, and if you have a white (or cream, bisque, or almond) stove, refrigerator, or other kitchen appliance that you’re not ready to replace, there are other options to give your kitchen an instant update. “If you have worn knobs or handles on your appliances, consider replacing those,” advises Elizabeth Demos, a designer in Savannah. You can also more affordably replace countertop appliances like toasters, coffee makers, microwaves, slow cookers or instant pots. “Think about adding stainless countertop appliances or ones with a shot of color to refresh your kitchen,” says Demos.

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Spacious living room with wooden floor and bright

Your furniture lines the walls

Replacing furniture can require a major investment of time and money, but simply moving it around a room is a lot easier. “Nine times out of ten, I walk into a home and all the furniture is along the walls and the seating areas are too spread out,” says Demos. “Creating more intimate seating arrangements by pulling pieces away from the wall will give an instant update to any gathering space.”

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Rustic or old fashioned bedroom designCora Reed/Shutterstock

Everything matches

“When you walk into a room and the bedding matches the drapes, which match the rug…that’s an inkling that the room is dated,” says Olivia Stutz, Homepolish designer of Olivia Stutz Design in New York City. That doesn’t mean you should fill your rooms with a crazy quilt of colors (unless you really like that sort of thing), but there should be some contrast. “Even if you’re traditional and like things to match, use different textures of the same color, or include patterns that have some white in them. What you don’t want is one base color all over the place.” Learn the foolproof tips for creating a home color scheme.

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North American power outlet on abstract textured wallgabriel12/Shutterstock

Your outlets and light switches are cream

You may never even have noticed these ubiquitous, functional elements, but they can make a house look dated. “These should be white, white, white,” says Huerta. “If I go in a house and they have almond, bisque or cream-colored outlets or lightswitch plates, I can immediately tell the date of the home.” Fortunately, it’s very inexpensive to switch these elements out. “Instead of a toggle switch, choose a flat switch with a dimmer on it,” Huerta says. While you’re at it, upgrade to outlets that include USB plugs, too. “Buy new switches in bulk and do your whole house in one day.”

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Bright mustard yellow interior of unique vintage style bathroomArtazum/Shutterstock

Your walls are painted sage green or mustard yellow

“Avocado green and aqua were popular in the 1960s, mauves and peaches in the 1970s, beige in the 1980s,” Demos says. If you want to update a room immediately, all it costs is some paint and a weekend. Go with cooler tones. Besides gray, designers say that blues, lavenders, and purples are all on-trend. Or paint the walls white, which will never be outdated, and is a neutral backdrop for other updates you can make to a room for years to come.

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Plain white wooden skirting board against a dark wooden floor.Stephen Plaster/Shutterstock

Your window trim and baseboards are elaborate

Ignore this advice if you live in a very old home, like a Victorian, and want to maintain the architectural integrity of the space. “But if you live in a home built in the last 50 years and you have elaborate, 10-inch baseboards or window trim, it’s time to change them,” recommends Huerta. A newer look is baseboards and trim that are just one to two inches wide and just an inch thick. Here are 13 more home improvement projects that pay for themselves.

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Your walls are covered with many small pieces of artwork

“You may own a lot of art, but you don’t want to stick it all above the couch just because you bought it,” says Stutz. “Instead, pick out a few things that mean something to you. You want your walls to look curated, so that photos, prints, or paintings seem as if they’re meant to be there.” And if you have a lot left over, change up what you display on your walls more frequently to keep things fresh. One more thing: Don’t forget to update your picture frames, too. Unless you have a very old house or a very traditional decorating style, overly ornate frames can look old-fashioned and overwhelm the art they hold.

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table lamp and sofa with wooden backgroundEky Studio/Shutterstock

Your lampshades belong at a party

You know what we mean: The lampshades that are smaller at the top, and slope outwards like a party hat. “Keep the lamp but swap out the shade for a more modern barrel or drum shape,” says Demos. “And no pleats, please!” Look for shades made of parchment or linen with a smoother finish.

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An old, weathered brass door knob and key hole with layers of old polish.David Kay/Shutterstock

You doors are outfitted with oil-rubbed bronze or polished brass hardware

Take a look at the doorknobs, curtain rods, wall sconces, cabinet pulls, and other metal hardware in your home. Chances are you haven’t thought about them since you moved in. But these metal accessories, when not updated, can make a home seem old-fashioned, too. “Especially in homes from the 1980s, you see a lot of oil-rubbed bronze, which is a reddish brown color,” says Huerta. How to refresh them? “Matte black is very current,” says Huerta. “But if you have a more traditional style, brushed black works well, too.” Next, don’t miss these 52 things that can make your home look more expensive.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Kristine Solomon
Kristine Solomon has over two decades worth of experience as an editor, writer and site director. Her topics of expertise include home, lifestyle, beauty and travel. Kristine loves to travel as a local, read and work on her skin care.