Kitchen Trends to Avoid If You Want to Sell

Unique woods are an alternative to cherry. Photo: seanfboggs/istockphoto.comWhat the market wants is not always the same as what the big box stores are selling. For instance, once-trendy kitchen fixtures, like vessel sinks, now look dated. I've culled the advice of real estate experts to find out which kitchen trends are on their way out, and which ones are actually appealing to buyers. Bear in mind that all of this might change in another few years, though moves toward greater simplicity and efficiency will probably have staying power.

Vessel sinks: According to a 2010 Apartment Therapy survey, vessel sinks look dated. That was back in 2010. By now, kitchen design has moved toward functionality and efficiency. Buyers are looking for large basin sinks, and there is a special premium put on large under-mount sinks. They are easy to clean, and give cooks plenty of room to work. If you're thinking of installing a vessel sink as a hand-washing sink on a kitchen island, you'll attract more buyers with a simple under-mount sink.

Pull out racks:, a reliable source of information on what's happening in real estate markets, says that pull out racks are going out of style. They also note that lazy Susans, appliance garages, and tall pantries are less popular than they used to be. Keep the storage plentiful, but simple, without too many bells and whistles.

Solid surface backsplash: According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, solid surface backsplashes are being superseded by glass, granite, natural stone, and tile backsplashes. Although it can be tempting to match the backsplash to the counter, a contrast will make your house more attractive to buyers

Huge kitchens: According to the trend-watchers at Elle Decor, kitchens with a smaller footprint are in. This is part of a general trend toward smaller, more efficient housing. It is possible to build a moderate-sized gourmet kitchen that's fully functional and even high-end. Surfaces, new appliances, neutral colors, and simple-but-plentiful storage will make a kitchen more attractive to buyers than sheer size. Many gourmet cooks, like PBS cooking host Christina Pirello, actually prefer to work in smaller kitchens.

Hanging pot racks: While hanging pot racks are an excellent form of storage, they can drive buyers away when they show up in real estate listing pictures. Why? Hanging pot racks can obscure the view of the rest of the kitchen in online listing photos, and potential buyers might think that the seller has hung the pots and pans from the ceiling due to a lack of storage.

Cherry  wood cabinets: According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the demand for cherry wood cabinets, which was high a few years ago, has diminished. For an up-to-the-minute look, talk to your carpenter about building cabinets out of a lesser-used but attractive wood, like alder, or even bamboo.

Stainless steel appliances: There was a time when stainless steel appliances were a must when staging your house for a sale. That time has passed. According to Phoenix, AZ real estate broker Leif Swanson, who publishes the blog Ugly House Photos (read it; it's excellent), Phoenix remodelers are seeing more demand for classic white or black appliances than stainless steel. Swanson says it's because the buyers whom he encounters are afraid of the marks and hand prints that inevitably show up on stainless steel appliances.

Chaya Kurtz writes for

Updated March 26, 2018.

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