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Realtors say these 40 mistakes make your home way less appealing

Jun 19, 2024Jun 19, 2024

Easy fixes that make your home look better.

You might not have thought that those intricately patterned drapes are making your space feel tiny or that those holes in the wall seriously bring down the vibes. That’s why we’ve reached out to realtors to have them weighed in on mistakes that make your home less appealing.

With just a few of these fixes, you can help your space feel larger, tidier, and more inviting. Best of all, it won’t cost you a fortune either — almost all of these solutions are less than $40.

Make the most of your square footage by taking the advice of Adie Kriegstein, a licensed real estate salesperson at Compass, who says drapes can make a room look and feel cramped, especially if the curtains are patterned. Kriegstein says neutral curtains can help open up the space and these sheer curtains come in tons of neutral shades such as white, beige, and gray. Their airy material allows for lots of natural light so the room feels breezy and spacious while still providing that crucial bit of privacy.

When it comes to the bathroom, it’s easier (and more affordable) than you think to make an impactful upgrade. Kriegstein tells Mic, “Replacing older showerheads with newer ones and also adding a handheld showerhead on the side will spruce up a bathroom quickly.” As a perfect example, this sleek showerhead installs in minutes and is made in a range of finishes such as chrome, brushed nickel, and matte black. It features both a rain showerhead and a handheld showerhead with three high-pressure spray options for a spa-like experience at home.

If you’re still relying on that cumbersome fan you bought several decades ago, it could be seriously bringing down the aesthetic vibe of your place. “Replacing any older fans with newer, smaller, streamlined ones helps create a fresher look,” says Kriegstein, and this efficient desk fan checks those boxes. It features a sleek, bladeless design and includes three speed options (low, medium, and high) with the ability to last up to nine hours on one charge. Move it easily from room to room and select through touch control a choice of five ambient LED lights to soothe you at night.

Kriegstein notes that child safety locks can be an eyesore, especially if they leave behind damage and residue when removed. Instead, she’s a fan of magnetic safety locks such as this set which installs in a few simple steps and stays out of sight. Ten locks and two keys come in every pack and you’ll also get two key holders.

If you want your home to be found inviting to as many people as possible, it might be time to retire that beloved but all-too-specific 1970s lighting fixture and opt for something more neutral. As Kriegstein recommends, “Any very specific decor lighting should be replaced with a more universal looking fixture to appeal to a wider audience.” This flush-mounted drum light casts a warm glow due to its fabric shade and blends in seamlessly with your surrounding decor. It requires two bulbs and can be operated on a dimmer to dial in the perfect amount of brightness needed.

To combat a matchy-matchy look that makes everything look too uniform (read: uninteresting), Zev Freidus, founder of ZFC Real Estate, suggests, “Adding different textures in the form of rugs, pillows, throws, and curtains can help bring a room to life and give it a cozy, inviting feel.” He adds, “Don't be afraid to mix and match different patterns and colors to create an interesting and unique look.” This runner rug does just that thanks to its faux-vintage design that makes it look like a prized antique. Made with a quarter-inch pile, it’s soft on feet and will look great contrasted with different colors or more modern styles.

As Freidus recommends, these throw pillow covers offer the perfect way to add some textural contrast to an otherwise visually monotonous home landscape. Two covers come in each set and are designed with a chic geometric pattern accentuated by cozy faux fur. They come available in seven different sizes as well as over 10 versatile shades such as beige (pictured here), sage green, and rust.

This throw blanket allows you to meet both criteria set out by Freidus by offering supreme coziness at the same time as adding interesting texture. The blanket is made in a stylish ribbed design and features 21 color options ranging from mauve tones to vivid pops of color. Plus, it’s made of incredibly soft and plush fleece material that you’ll be hard-pressed to uncurl yourself from once you’ve settled in.

Don’t let Freidus’ recommendations be limited simply to living room spaces, as bathrooms can also benefit from his ideas. With a high 4.7-star rating, this waffle weave shower curtain is a simple and affordable way to provide your bathroom with elegance worthy of a high-end hotel. Available in many sizes and color options, it’s made of thick, heavyweight polyester fabric that’s fully waterproof with a weighted hem to keep it securely in place. As a bonus, it can be easily cleaned in the washing machine.

This bamboo bath mat’s material and ripple design offers both warmth and contrast to bathroom floors. Nonslip pads on the bottom keep it a safe place to land when leaving the shower or bath and a clear waterproof coating keeps the wood in lasting shape. It can even be used underneath fabric mats as a way to provide excellent air circulation, helping to prevent the buildup of mold or mildew.

Sometimes even the littlest details can make a huge difference. Brad Pauly, the owner of Pauly Presley Realty, specifically highlights the yard as a place for improvement, saying that a mistake you can make is having “landscaping that isn't manicured.” He suggests, “Cut your grass, do the edging,” to maintain a clean and appealing look. To get the job done, turn to these grass shears made with hardened steel blades for effortless cutting. The blades also rotate 360 degrees helping you to manicure those grasses surrounding your flowerbed or trees no matter the awkward angle.

Another great way to make sure your landscaping is always looking healthy and well-maintained is to utilize these plant watering globes. Great for potted plants both inside and outside, these globes come in a set of four in different colors and are made of beautiful hand-blown glass. Fill them with water and flip them to insert them into your plant. The plant will draw only the amount of water that it needs, freeing you from constantly worrying that you over or under-watered your greenery. As a bonus, there’s even a handy moisture meter included — every thriving plant owner’s secret weapon.

The way a place smells is an often overlooked component in how welcoming it feels and this sensory element can truly play a crucial role. Presley speaks to this by suggesting items such as fragrances and candles to make sure your home smells great and feels continuously refreshed. This scented candle is a great choice as it’s offered in over 30 different scents ranging from earthy to tropical so you can dial in your preferred ambiance. It’s made of soy wax with a cotton wick and lasts for up to 70 hours.

This ultrasonic essential oil diffuser is a great way to subtly add a gentle fragrance to the air without the need for any heat. Plus, it comes with 10 essential plant oils already included to rotate through at will and keep your place smelling constantly fresh, as Presley recommends. The diffuser can last for up to eight hours and offers four automatic timers in addition to seven ambient lighting modes to provide even more calm.

Just the finishes of a piece of hardware can draw attention, sometimes in the wrong way, as Markus Savaglio, a realtor at eXp Realty, points out. If your light fixture is feeling dated, he says, “Consider replacing it with a similar style in a more timeless color like brushed nickel, bronze, black, or copper or find a light fixture that is more your personal style and you can't help but smile every time you turn it on.” Opt for something like this smile-inducing ceiling light, designed in a modern farmhouse aesthetic and offered in four different finishes (bronze, chrome, gold, or black) with a choice between four or six light bulbs.

This wall plate serves as a great way to give your home a subtle modernizing lift, as Savaglio recommends, without spending a fortune. Made of powder-coated steel, it comes in 17 different finishes such as antique copper, brushed rose gold, and polished black, and is easily mounted to any standard duplex-style outlet. It’s also fully heat-resistant and fade-resistant and comes with matching screws.

If you’ve ever lived in a place dubbed “charming,” you know it’s code for “old” which comes with all sorts of “classic” fixtures that might be making your place less-than-appealing. Savaglio speaks to this specifically saying, “Postwar-boom houses of the late 1940s and into the 1950s almost all use the same towel bar and toilet paper holder.” He adds that even if your budget prohibits you from bigger reno projects like replacing that dated pink tile, you can still refresh your bathroom’s look by replacing that old-fashioned towel bar. This towel bar set is a great option as it’s designed in a sleek, contemporary style with straight, elegant edges and comes in a chic brushed nickel finish. The set includes four pieces to hang a bath towel, face towel, toilet paper, and even your robe.

This streamlined stainless steel faucet serves as another way to instantly upgrade both the look and functionality of an outdated bathroom. It’s designed in a modern style in a brushed nickel finish with attractive handles and an elegantly curved spout. Practical touches such as a 360-degree rotating spout and a pop-up drain make this faucet that much more appealing.

If you’ve been relying on that cheap, plastic bathroom bin to get the job done, you’re missing an opportunity to lift the look of that whole space. Take Savaglio’s recommendation for updating fixtures and swap in this beautiful small trash can. It’s designed in a slim, rectangular shape perfect for fitting into narrow spaces and comes in 19 finishes that range from brushed stainless steel to cream to multiple marble patterns.

There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to make any surface seem invigorated with new life, as Richard Mews, CEO of Sell With Richard, attests. “Faded or chipped exterior paint can diminish the curb appeal of a home and give the impression of neglect, making it less attractive to potential buyers,” Mews tells Mic. “Repaint the exterior of the home with a fresh, modern color to improve its curb appeal and create a positive first impression.” This well-reviewed latex paint uses a water-based acrylic formula and comes in over 40 shades, providing you with lots of options for creating a fresh look. It features a satin finish and can be used on a variety of surfaces from wood to metal to masonry.

These stunning house numbers are designed in a stylish font that will also do wonders for making your exterior more attractive. They’re made in a large size that’s easy to read from the street and can be either flush mounted or installed as floating numbers, which will create an even more dimensional display with a directed light source. Each number is 5 inches high and made of rustproof stainless steel.

Per Mews's recommendation of creating a positive first impression, opt for this natural coir doormat made in an eye-catching parquet design. The coir material has bristles to trap all kinds of dust, dirt, and debris before you come in the door and the mat includes a nonslip backing to keep it in place. Choose from several other patterns on offer including one that features charming cacti or another that sports a welcoming “hello.”

Instantly create tasteful decorative lighting outside simply by hanging these aesthetic solar lanterns. They come in a set of two and include all the hardware needed for a simple installation. With no wiring required, a solar panel at the top allows them to charge all day to then automatically turn on as the sun goes down. The lanterns are completely weather-resistant with the bulbs sporting a vintage-looking exposed filament.

It’s amazing how just the simple addition of these garage door accents can make your home that much more covetable. They come in a set of six magnetic pieces that include both hinges and handles and mount to metal garage doors immediately with no hardware or drilling required. With over 24,000 reviews and a near-perfect 4.8-star rating, these accents are clearly a popular winner for boosting that all-important curb appeal.

Even if you have very little space that can be used for planting, there’s still a way to make your exterior feel verdant. This wooden planter box is made of gorgeous acacia wood and provides the perfect rustic vessel for showing off lovely plants, flowers, or herbs. The box is lightweight and is built with a drainage hole to prevent overwatering so as to keep your plants as healthy as possible.

Easily install these solar pathway lights that come in a set of 16 to gently illuminate your garden pathways or decking without one bit of wiring necessary. They charge via the solar panel at the top and provide up to eight hours of your choice of either warm white, cold white, or multicolor light. Able to withstand all manner of weather with an IP56 waterproof rating, these lights are the perfect way to make sure your outdoor space stays inviting day or night.

These cabinet pulls are made of stainless steel, are versatile in their ability to fit in seamlessly with both modern farmhouse and streamlined contemporary decor, and also fit the brief laid out by Mews. “Old and worn cabinet handles and knobs can give the impression of neglect and lack of attention to detail,” he says, adding, “Potential buyers might perceive the entire kitchen or bathroom as outdated, which could make the home less appealing overall.” Mews suggests a simple fix: “Replace old and worn cabinet handles and knobs with modern, stylish options.” The cabinet pulls pictured here are a cinch to swap in and come in three finishes (black, brushed brass, and satin nickel) to fit with your current look.

If classic subway tiles aren’t in the budget, but you know that replacing that tired and stained backsplash will make a life-changing difference, turn to this peel-and-stick backsplash. Though made of vinyl, the tiles look like the real thing due to their three-dimensional texture and glossy finish. They’re resistant to both heat and moisture and can be easily cut to size.

When you have this chalk-style paint at hand, the world is your oyster when it comes to jazzing up worn pieces of furniture. It comes in 50 stunning colors ranging from dusky blues to burnished reds and can be used on both indoor and outdoor furniture. Best of all, this eco-friendly paint is made with both the top coat and primer already built-in — plus it dries within 30 minutes.

Augusto Bittencourt, co-founder of the Barnett-Bittencourt team at Compass, tells Mic, “Some homes have unattractive wall art or [are] too personalized for every buyer's taste. Since art is expensive to replace, one staging secret is to add a mirror instead.” Bittencourt speaks to other benefits provided by mirrors, saying, “It will make the room larger, brighter, and if positioned correctly, it will give an illusion of an additional window. I love to use this rectangular gold framed mirror which can easily go above the couch and will transform the size and light of your room.” Choose from several other frame finishes as well as an alternative arched design as well.

To inject a bit of style while visually opening up the space, opt for this set of abstract prints in a neutral color palette. Perfect for those with a minimalist aesthetic, they each feature varying depictions of forms in combinations of gray, black, brown, and white. Offered in two sizes, they come in a set of three, each with an accompanying black wooden frame.

This storage ottoman serves as another answer to opening up your space by clearing away clutter — plus, you get extra seating out of it too. Made of chic linen material, the top features foam padding in an elegant tufted design. Choose from 10 possible colors to match your existing decor and lift up either side of the top to store away blankets, books, toys, or other knick knacks.

When it comes to creating an inviting atmosphere, Bittencourt says lighting is “one of the most important things to set people's mood.” He recommends switching all your bulbs to warm white or amber and makes a specific recommendation, saying, “These vintage LED bulbs are a great option and they are dimmable.” The bulbs come in a pack of five and all feature classic-looking exposed filaments. They cast a beautiful warm white glow and will each give you over 15,000 hours of soft light.

These smart plugs come in a pack of four and connect to your home’s Wi-Fi to offer you tons of control over your lighting. Use the included app or your smart device (like Alexa or Google Home Assistant) to set timers, create schedules, and even trigger lighting scenes on command. Plus, you can also use these plugs with any appliances ranging from fans to air conditioners to your espresso machine in order to control them remotely or through voice commands.

These LED puck lights are such an easy way to instantly add a touch of tasteful lighting to dim spaces like countertops, along stairs, or in closets — without needing to hire an electrician. The lights mount using either the included self-adhesive or screws and run on three AA batteries each (not included). They emit a warm white light and even come with a remote that lets you set timers and control brightness.

Sean Mayers, salesperson at Century21, offers a tip that’ll make a difference the moment you walk in the door. “When showing homes, it’s always a turn-off to see a disorganized pile of shoes and coats near the front door,” he says. “It makes the home look messy and less appealing to prospective homebuyers.” This bamboo shoe rack not only adds some warm elegance with its natural finish but also provides you with three tiers to store shoes. Additionally, the top functions as a convenient bench, making it comfortable to take footwear on and off.

To deal with those coats and purses as you come in the door, mount these wall hooks to keep your entryway neat and tidy, as Mayers suggests. They sport a minimalist look being made of beech wood and, though they look understated, they can each hold up to 25 pounds, making them perfect for the heaviest of bags or winter coats. Four come in each pack with wall anchors included.

Sometimes inspiration strikes and that particular piece of art or decor is moved elsewhere, leaving behind some visual casualties. Mayers speaks to this, saying, “Holes in walls from previous pictures and decorations can make a home look old and dilapidated.” That’s where this small hole repair kit steps in. It comes with everything you need including an angled drywall sanding sponge, a self-adhesive patch, a putty knife, and a primer-enhanced spackling compound to repair walls to their former smooth and even glory.

Spaces like the bathroom are just as important in terms of making a positive impression, and Mayers points out some habits to be aware of: “A crowded bathroom sink and counter area with toiletries everywhere looks messy and unclean. That’s a real turn-off to anyone viewing the home.” He suggests this countertop organizer as a way to gather all those supplies and display them neatly. It’s constructed of alloy steel and includes two mesh tiers as well as a mesh basket on the side with nonslip feet keeping it in place. Choose from black, white, and gray.

If your work-from-home situation feels more like cozily nesting in miscellaneous cables, you’ll be able to relate to Mayers assessment that “home office desk areas with tangled cords and wires hanging everywhere look very disorganized and messy.” There’s no escaping the presence of those necessary cords, but he suggests using these cable clips to harness them into aesthetic order. They come in a pack of two (one with three slots and the other with five) and feature a flexible spine and peel-off self-adhesive to stick to desk or wall surfaces, be they curved or straight.