By Jennifer Kelly Geddes | May 21, 2021
Once a home trend gets started, it’s hard to leave it behind. As certain looks start popping up on your social feed and solidifying their place on the hot list, it’s tempting to hop on the bandwagon and buy into them, too.
Yet design pros urge folks to think carefully about how they really live, day to day, before pulling the trigger on a look that seems cool. Dogs, kids, and even the weather in your region can rule out particular design elements and render them simply unworkable.
So which popular trends are overhyped and annoying once they’re inside your home? To help, here are 10 fads you may want to take a pass on, since they may just turn out to be more trouble than they’re worth.
1. Stainless-steel appliances
The industrial look dominates the design world, and the kitchen is prime real estate for acres of metal. But those cool, shiny expanses are just waiting for your toddler to come along and smudge them with his jelly-slicked hands.
Stainless steel shows every mark, every time, so if your life isn’t 100% pristine, think about a matte or colored coating instead.
“Stainless is so much upkeep,” says Darla DeMorrow of HeartWork Organizing. “And there are tons of beautiful enamels that we could all enjoy.”
2. Wallpapered bathrooms
Our design pros love a wallpapered bathroom, but watch out! Moisture can cause certain kinds to peel and blister, sabotaging their chic look.
“Never use real paper or grasscloth in a room with a shower or toilet, unless it’s underneath glass or a Plexi surface,” says Ana Cummings of the eponymous design firm.
Wipeable, washable designer vinyls are the way to go here, like the ones you see in boutique hotels or upscale restaurants.
“Or try a stenciled look, which just requires painting over it when you’re ready for a change,” adds DeMorrow.
3. White living rooms
All-white may look heavenly—but you probably don’t live in heaven 24/7. Truth: Get ready for this look to turn dingy in a matter of months.
The one exception is furniture with white slipcovers.
“Wash them twice a year, and they’re brand-new—there’s nothing better,” says DeMorrow.
4. Wine walls
Wine walls are everywhere these days, but your vino will suffer for it.
“A feature wall of wine in the kitchen will expose bottles to heat, cold, and humidity—all of which prematurely age it,” warns Cummings.
If you cherish your vintages, enclosed wine storage that’s temperature-controlled is best.
5. Barn doors
Rustic touches like these have surged in the home of late, but they just don’t perform well—so definitely skip them for bedrooms and bathrooms, says Whitney Wiggins, an interior designer with Seabrook.
“Barn doors don’t close off a room the way a swing door can, and they require a large amount of clear wall when opened, leaving an awkward void when they’re shut,” she explains.
A better solution: a simple pocket door.
6. Jute or sisal rugs
Natural fiber rugs are minimally processed, made from renewable materials, and offer gorgeous weaves. But they’re also scratchy underfoot and shed like the dickens. Oh—and cats tend to love the smell, and will scratch them or use the rug as an indoor potty.
“You really need to be able to feel the texture with your hands, and try and test the shred factor,” says DeMorrow.
7. Recessed lighting
Soaring 12-foot ceilings are amazing to behold.
“But when they’re peppered with pot lighting, you can’t change the bulbs or make repairs without hiring a scaffolding crew,” says Cummings.
Pendant lights are an easier bulb change, and also offer more visual interest.
8. Animal-skin rugs
Animal skin rugs such as zebra, cow, or sheep really make a floor pop. However, although they may inspire objections from animal lovers, they also ruffle designers, too.
The reason? Whether this type of rug is fake or real, a vacuum generally can’t handle one, because of its delicate edges and other features. As a result, such rugs are all but impossible to keep clean, says DeMorrow.
9. Hanging chairs
Give us a great porch swing for lazy afternoons every day of the week. But putting one in your living room is a trend we can’t endorse.
“Suspended seating is playful and popular,” says Wiggins, but as for their performance and safety, these swings fall short.
They are unstable and awkward to sit on, and accidents are bound to happen.
“I can spill my drink just fine on my own,” adds Wiggins. “No need to add kinetic energy into the mix.”
10. Open en suite bedrooms
If you and your partner are at all on different schedules, this wall-free, open-plan, bed-to-bath situation is going to present a problem. It feels like a hipster hotel to see into the glass shower, but it’s not for someone who craves a dark, quiet sleep space.
“If good fences make good neighbors, then partitions between the bedchamber and bathroom make for a better relationship,” says Cummings.