7 Overdone Kitchen Trends That Buyers Are Tired of, According to Real Estate Experts

During the past year and a half, our relationships with our kitchens have blossomed from It’s Complicated to Official. We’re sourdough starter savants. We’re baked feta fanatics. We’re Japanese Cheesecake champions. And since folks have been dedicating so much of their time in the kitchen to sautéing and socializing alike, they’ve naturally developed some opinions on kitchen trends.

When searching for a new place to call home, the kitchen has always been a top priority for house hunters. As such, for those preparing to sell their home, being mindful of trend turn-offs might make the difference in a competitive market. Below, real estate experts weigh in on timeworn trends that today’s buyers are avoiding.

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 real estate agent 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.

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.

Massive Kitchens with Minimal Counter Space

In the past, big kitchens with luxe appliances dazzled house hunters. But if you look closer, you’ll see something’s missing.

“Given the increased amount of time spent at home due to the pandemic, buyers have shifted their focus to the practicality of a home’s layout rather than just design,” Wu says. If a kitchen has a dishwasher and sink against one wall, a range or oven and a ventilation hood or microwave on another, and a refrigerator taking up another portion, where does food prep happen?

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 crazy 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.

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.

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.

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.

Sarah Magnuson


Sarah Magnuson is a Chicago-based, Rockford, Illinois-born and bred writer and comedian. She has bachelor’s degrees in English and Sociology and a master’s degree in Public Service Management. When she’s not interviewing real estate experts or sharing her thoughts on laundry chutes (major proponent), Sarah can be found producing sketch comedy shows and liberating retro artifacts from her parent’s basement.

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