Tell-tale Signs You’re Stuck In The Past

April 7, 2020

If you’ve been living in your home for a long time, there’s a good chance it may be dated without you even realizing it. After all, the shag carpeting and vertical blinds were trendy when you bought them, right?

Here are some sure signs that you’re living in the past. Watch for these instant agers, and replace them to breathe new life into your home.

As a professional stylist, I’ve seen wallpaper come, and go, and come back again. It has definitely made a comeback in recent years, but don’t get me wrong — there’s no confusing today’s modern papers with the floral, striped and starred relics of the past.

Replace that old, dingy and outdated wallpaper with something that’s clean, bright and contemporary for an instant update in your home. Panelled walls are another artefact that’s best left back in the 1960s. Ideally, it’s best to remove it, repair or replace the sheetrock, and repaint the walls.

But be warned, this can be labour-intensive and yes, expensive. The faster, easier and more economical fix is to simply paint the panelling. You’ll need to prep the surface to ensure that the paint adheres and you cover all the grooves.

The third worst offender when it comes to dated decor is window treatments like heavy drapes, swags, tassels and tiebacks. And remember roller shades with the fringe trim from the ‘80s?

There’s a very good reason I’m still trying to forget those. If you’re not concerned about privacy or insulation, let the view take centre stage. If privacy is something to keep in mind, consider a timeless treatment like a sliding lightweight drape, or contemporary shades or blinds.

When it comes to updating your interiors, light fixtures are a great entry-point into the modern era. Nothing says “original” (translation: old) like builder’s-grade light fixtures.

In my professional opinion, these basic fixtures don’t do you any favours, in terms of lighting or aesthetic! Upgrading your light fixtures can be as simple as a visit to your local big box store, where you’ll find a selection of the latest trends at reasonable prices.

Another easy and cost-effective update is to update your drawers, doors and cabinets with new hardware. Ensure your hardware and hinges match and are on trend.

Brushed nickel is the universal neutral when it comes to metals, but if you’re feeling bold you can opt for a more modern finish, like matte black! Updating your faucets and plumbing fixtures is also an easy and instant update for your kitchen and bathrooms, too.

Another trick I suggest is simply repositioning your furniture. This is an easy update that costs you nothing more than some thought and a little elbow grease.

Take inventory of what you have, donate or give away the undesirables, and reposition your pieces to create a new focal point. This could be a window, an interesting architectural feature or an eye-catching piece of art.

TIP: If you’re purchasing new furniture, avoid the matchy-matchy sets. Instead, opt for a mix-and-match look, which is visually more interesting, totally on trend, and easy to modernize with the purchase of one or two new pieces.

Your modernizing efforts don’t have to be as intensive as a full-blown renovation — or as expensive! Something as simple as some fresh bed linens and towels, pillows and throws, and or other accessories can make a world (and years!) of difference.


Toronto-based, award-winning Interior Stylist, Red Barrinuevo is an Interior Decorator and Principal of Redesign4more, servicing clients in Toronto and the GTA. The firm’s known for enhancing and creating stylish yet functional spaces through their creative home staging, interior styling services, and design services.

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