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Is It a Trend or a Fad? How to Know the Difference When Updating Your Home

When fixing up your home, especially if you’re doing so to get it in shape to put it on the market, you want to make sure it looks updated. And that means including current trends. But there’s a fine line between trends and fads.

In a macro sense, “A fad is a short-lived phenomenon, fading in a relatively brief period,” said Social Standards. “When the fad runs its course, you can expect to see a marked decrease in social conversations, a rise in negative conversations, and low user retention levels. By comparison, a trend has a much longer lifespan and is far more sustainable as a market force than a fad. Trends indicate long-term market influence, an increase in positive social conversations, and a high user retention rate.”

s it relates to design, a fad can turn into a trend. But it’s hard to know when that will happen. And if your goal is to attract a wide range of buyers to your home, it may be best to steer clear of design choices that are too new, too edgy, and, especially, too pricey. “Usually fads are things everyone is talking about,” said Cedar Hill Farmhouse. “They get super hot real fast, and fizzle away just as fast. I think of shag carpet as an example of a fad. And this was an expensive fad! Most people can’t afford to make a mistake on that scale.”

How can you tell between a fad and a trend?

Take the barn door. It started out looking like a fad, merged into a trend, and then became so oversaturated (Try finding a flip or renovation on HGTV that didn’t have one over the last couple of years!) that people became tired of them.

If you’re making changes to your home with the intent of selling, knowing the difference between fads and trends can help inform your design choices.

Paint color

Gray has been the color du’jour for, well, more than a jour. If your home needs a fresh coat before you list it, a neutral is the way to go. You just want to make sure you don’t go overboard.

“Gray floors, gray walls, gray kitchen cabinets! Treating gray as a neutral is something that’s starting to feel predictable, Samira Tapia, a Los Angeles-based Realtor with Compass, told Apartment Therapy.  “I specifically have buyers asking me not to send them any all-gray listings.”

You also want to be careful about going too bold. You may love blood red or a shade of yellow that’s brighter than the sun, but unusual or unpredictable shades may make your home memorable for the wrong reason.


“Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, busy, bold wallpaper is back in a big way,” said HomeLight. “Online searches for ‘bold print wallpaper’ have increased by 401% in the past year. But here’s the thing about wallpaper, don’t add it to your home. ‘It can add visual clutter,’ Janice Rosenberg, a top performing real estate agent in Raleigh, NC, told them. “Buyers are doing their searches on the Internet, and they’re looking at the photos and when they see wallpaper that they don’t like in their minds, they’re thinking it’s going to cost a lot of money and time to get rid of it.”


If you are replacing your flooring prior to listing your home, think carefully about what to use. Hardwood can actually help you sell your home, and for a higher price than other materials, but you still won’t get every dollar you spend back in most cases. Before you commit to spending thousands of dollars, it’s a good idea to consult your real estate agent. An experienced agent should be able to guide you to the best options for your flooring and then counsel you on the best colors, plank width, and brands of you do choose to add hardwood.

Kitchen finishes

Watch HGTV for more than a few minutes these days and you’re probably going to see some fancy gold or brass finishes in the kitchen, and possibly the bathrooms as well. We’re filing this under “fad,” because, even though this type of finish has grown in popularity, you’re still unlikely to find them in the majority of homes—especially in more suburban areas. If you live in a hip city with a large, design-savvy millennial buyer base, going with the latest finishes could be a good move. For everyone else, sticking to finishes with more widespread appeal is smart.

Kitchen shelving is another important feature to consider. In recent years, open shelving has become quite popular on design shows. But, in real life, it can lack function and create clutter—especially when there is too much of it. “Open shelving looks great when done right, but too many open shelves can look unorganized,” said Family Handyman. “Stick to a couple well-organized open shelves mixed in with cabinets.”


Outside of finishes, it’s important to consider the main features of your bathroom. Are you fixing up an outdated space? You might be seeing a number of owners renovating their master bathrooms to include a large walk-in shower, which requires them to ditch the bath. Is this a fad or a trend? Either way, it can be a move that hurts the home’s value.

Consider your potential buyer before making such a drastic change. If there are a lot of young families in the neighborhood and that’s your target buyer, removing the tub in the master bath may end up costing you a sale.

About US

Meet Robin Allen #1 Producing Agent and Luxury Properties Specialist in the Brookline/Chestnut Hill office of William Raveis Real Estate. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, she has developed a keen understanding and in-depth knowledge of the local real estate market and trends, making her one of the most sought after agents to work with in Brookline and Newton.


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