The Big, Bad & Ugly of Home Decor

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Sometimes what works in creating a great photo of a home doesn’t work in reality. That’s the main point of an article on “10 Decor Trends to Skip,” written by The Nest and reprinted at It’s always amusing to read the latest fashion faux pas when it comes to home design.

Here are some of the design blunders that made The Nest’s list.

  • Antlers: Mounted horns displayed on walls became popular accessories in magazine home design spreads. But it’s now best to leave the horns on the animals, not the walls.
  • Inspirational decor: Inspirational sayings like “Keep Calm and Carry On” or lettered decals such as “dream” or “friends” are no longer inspiring for home decor.
  • Boutique hotel chic: It’s no longer a good idea to take pointers from hotels to guide your decorating. You’ll be left with “stiff minimalism, dull neutrals” — a quick way to achieve a blah room design, according to the article. (You might want to channel those inspirational sayings before starting your design!)
  • Accent walls: Yes, surprisingly, accent walls made the list. Accent walls were once touted as a great way to bring in splashes of color, without committing to painting the entire room. But there’s no half-way now: It’s all or nothing. According to the article: “When all-white rooms were in fashion, one brightly painted or wallpapered wall was a great way to break up the monotony. But now, with bolder paint colors the norm, accent walls have less purpose and can break up the flow of a room. Plus, what was once an unpredictable pop of color is now, well…predictable.”

So what do you think — do you agree with the list? What’s missing?

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Beautiful and elegant will always be in fashion. It never goes out of style.

    Personally, I never liked the idea of using the same pallet of colors in commercial buildings or hotels and in residential homes. Glad to see some of the “neutrals” go.

  2. Great piece with good tips. I enjoy following decor trends and would have to say that I don’t think many of these trends ever caught on in a big way here in Southern California (thank goodness)! In many of the homes we list for sale I would say that accent colors do seem to be less of a fad. More people are painting rooms one color (typically something neutral or something with just a hint of color) and letting the accessories do the talking.
    As for the hotel scheme, I agree that it can be sterile and impractical. However, homebuyers love the look of luxury! There’s nothing wrong with going for that look when staging a home to sell. Of course, make sure to mimic a luxurious hotel, like The W. The last thing you want to do is copy an unappealing design!

  3. I was never a fan of accent walls. I prefer to bring in a splash of color with accessories such as pillows, throws, vases and prints.

  4. Lisa Mitchell

    This is a great list. I have not seen many antler’s hanging on the walls here in Northern Virginia but everything else rings true. I believe you take a common element such as a color or item and bring that tone through your entire house, this will give you a homey warm feeling.

    I would stay away from pastels.

  5. Lisa Mitchell re: Northern Virginia – haven’t seen any antlers hanging on walls – Well, I’ve got antlers hanging on my walls in two rooms and I’m in Northern Virginia. I do think the ones in the guest bedroom may need to come down for re-sale. Surprizingly, I know of one child who wasn’t afraid of these “heads” on the wall, but yet, a doll with eyes that open and close terrified her!

    Any type of decorating is subjective – if it’s done in good taste – whether one wall painted, hotel chic or whatever, it WILL be pleasing to the eye. It’s decorating that misses the mark or looks like it came out of a department store catalog that’s a killer.

  6. I went back to The Nest article and got a chuckle out of the additional 4 points. Taxidermy? Ghost Chairs? I’m glad I didn’t realize they were a trend!

    I agree that good taste in decorating is much more pleasing to the eye. Freshness, clean (or new) paint and good looking floor coverings together with uncluttered furniture always attract positive attention.

  7. Pam Primiani

    The big-turn off’s here in NJ are the wrong colors. The “country” colors of the 90’s are definitely out: pink and hunter green. The “southwest” colors of the 80’s are out: peach and mint green (ugh). Washed oak cabinets or white cabinets in the kitchen are out too. You have a pretty good idea how old the furnace and roof are when you see these colors.

    But one thing that never goes out of style is…..CLEANLINESS! You don’t always see that one.

  8. One more note on the accent walls: I sell homes in the Portland, Oregon metro area, in rural, suburban and inner city neighborhoods. About 3-4 years ago, at the height of the “new” accent wall popularity, I was showing homes to clients from California, who after viewing about 10 houses, asked me if everyone in Oregon had a Red Wall! Sure enough, every home we looked at had at least one red wall. And even today, almost every home I show will have a red wall or a red room. I will be glad when this “trend” is dead.

    And I must agree that the key to any home decor is CLEANLINESS! As for antlers, they work well in the country, side by side wtih the gun safe. But not in the city!

  9. our home decors are very nice this coming christmas because we would use glitters and satin covers.’-

  10. Kirby

    This is a great list. However, I think some people should go for the “hotel” inspired look. Some homes are way too busy…and I am speaking of all price ranges! In many ways “less is more” can apply to home decorating and or staging.