Warning: This Mistake Could Instantly Date your House

Okanagan Valley

Okanagan Valley, photo taken from Silver Sage Winery

Pink Roses

My Sister Elizabeth and her husband rent a trailer to camp at Christina Lake each summer with their two boys.

When I walked into the one they had this year I asked “Is this trailer 15 years old?”

Elizabeth looked a little startled as she replied “No these are new, I’m sure not older than 2-3 years, they don’t rent old trailers”.

As I looked around, it was obvious that it wasn’t old but I thought it was interesting to note that the wallpaper, border, window coverings and upholstery were all in shades of sage greens and mustard yellows. Colours I was specifying over and over again prior to 2002 when the brown trend arrived in the West coast.

Sage Green Window Treatments

Before everyone bought a brown sofa (now it’s charcoal), sage green was the trendy neutral of the moment 15 years ago.

The only finish I liked in the trailer were the faux wood floors (below), way better than a fake looking tile linoleum floor.

Of course the countertop was pink beige and black (even though it was not repeated anywhere else) since so many people automatically assume it’s neutral when of course, as you know, it’s far from it. 

Pink Beige Countertops

Above photos by Maria Killam

Either the designer in charge of finishes has no idea where colour trends are or all of this was available at a greatly reduced price because it is dated and no one is interested in sage green in any shape or form these days.

 I recently received this question:

“Just curious for opinions…we plan to sell in two years or maybe three and our realtor said not to do a white kitchen because it is a trend that will pass and high-end purchasers don’t look for trendy.  We have custom cherry cabinets and a high end granite that scream expensive (we didn’t put them in) and he strongly advises leaving it as is given that we will definitely have to move.  Also, our area is very international, so an Americana look won’t necessarily play well.  Thoughts?  Want to update to my own taste while keeping in mind that we will sell…”

First, here is the scoop on high end. Most high end clients prefer white kitchens, it doesn’t really matter where the trend stands on the colour of a wood stained cabinet.

I worked in one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Vancouver for 3 years and I can count on one hand how many wood stained kitchens I saw and that was during a period where I conducted an average of five consultations every week. Almost every house had a white kitchen installed.

This Mistake Could Instantly Date your House

Via Pinterest

A high-end buyer is usually more well travelled and therefore more up-to-date on trends. They know that a white kitchen is the most timeless look and that’s why its installed over a wood kitchen many times over a wood stained one.

And, it doesn’t matter how high-end your granite looks, there’s nothing timeless or neutral about it. Expensive does not equal classic and timeless. If that were true, then a client of mine who inherited a $200,000 mosaic wall-to-ceiling fireplace in his living room should have been madly in love with it.

He wasn’t. And he immediately had it drywalled.

So before you get cranky about this advice if you don’t have a white kitchen please understand that this is my opinion, based on thousands upon thousands of consultations over the years. There are many reasons why a buyer will fall in love with your house, and I believe it’s because you’ve created a look and feel more than anything else, unless you live in a house that is truly falling apart.

Bottom line, before you spend too much money on updates, decorate the main living areas of your house instead. You’ll technically be staging your house at the same time which creates a look and a feel that a potential buyer will love and you’ll actually get to enjoy it way before you sell. It’s a win, win all around!

Christina Lake, British Columbia

Christina Lake Via Sunset Magazine

Here’s where I was camping last summer! I’m not a BIG camper as I much prefer room service but I will happily endure it to be around my family. Here’s my mom reading a bedtime story to Markus (below).

Bedtime Story at Christina Lake

Where will you be this summer?

Related posts:

Are Granite Countertops Timeless? Yay or Nay

Two Questions to Ask before you Decorate vs. Renovate

Danger: How you Know You’ve Fallen for a Trend

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk up to the front door, become a client. On-line or In-person.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. 

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  1. The last picture of your Mom reading to Markus was just priceless. Love his miner’s light 🙂 As to kitchen colors and finishes, my opinion is that the entire house should flow and that sometimes, white cabinets are a bit jarring in a traditional house. We’ve owned 7 houses and have had it all from colored steel to white to oak to cherry. Right now, it is custom medium cherry with biscuit quartz counters, back splashes and biscuit appliances and sink. Very serene, very beautiful, very ME! I love looking at your white kitchens, but my kitchen will stay cherry – at least in this house!! Someone said that staging sells houses. When a house ‘hangs together’, it sells itself. We’ve sold 2 houses before listing them, and one house within a week of listing. The only one that took 6 months to sell was the one we’d lived in only 6 months. It isn’t just the color of cabinets and carpets that appeals to buyers, it is that everything works together like a single painting. Most people imagine themselves in a house without remembering that the furniture and accessories go with the old owners. Love your blog, and I do understand your reasoning in choosing white kitchens in most cases. It is your look and I respect that.

  2. Hello Maria,
    We are getting our home ready for sale and hired a designer to suggest updates for the kitchen/great room area (includes a dining area and family room with a red brick fireplace. The brick has splotches of white/black.)

    She suggested Cloud White for the cabinets (originally the orangey/yellowy oak of the 1990’s), grant beige for the walls, Tobacco Pental quartz countertops and bronze cabinet pulls and dining area light fixture.

    The previous wall color was Abbey Brown by BM, so in response we had replaced the family room carpet with a pink/beige undertone several years ago (if I had only known then what I know now from your website). The hardwoods are the the yellowy/orangey oak colored ones and the trim is all bright white, as the trim color was picked to match the original white vinyl windows.

    Now that we have the cabinets and walls painted (no countertops yet), if “feels” wrong to me. I feel like the brick and carpet don’t belong. Is this all going to work out, or do we need to change the wall color or ? We have already payed a lot for the cabinets to be painted cloud white, but the walls could be repainted for $450.

    Someone asked you on Facebook about whether cabinet color should match white trim and you said yes it should, so we missed that opportunity already. Please help…

    • oops, forgot to add, she picked a biscuit colored subway tile backsplash, and we have not ordered countertops or backsplash yet, so could still change those….

    • Thank you Maria, for teaching me about undertones. The designer came over today due to our concerns and could also see that the pinky-beige undertoned carpet did not go with the green undertoned Grant Beige, so we are changing it to Bradstreet Beige. If I had not been reading your website, I would never have known “why” it felt wrong and would probably not have questioned the designer….

  3. When everyone gets there it goes out of style. I am speaking of granite counter tops! Its call marketing. If everyone already has it what will they sell? I liken it to a little black dress. If it is right for you now it will be right for you 20 years from now. I like change, but there is a difference in changing something because it has gone out of style and changing it for a new look.

  4. Maria, what paint color is best to paint my kitchen cabinets white with a maple floor and stainless steel appliances? The counter tops are verde butterfly.(like black granite with specks of white and green). please give me correct white paint color

  5. Hi Maria, could you please tell me if I have a problem with bursa beige marble floor, hog bristle quarter painted room and a red lounge suite?
    I guess why I’m asking is I think I may have a huge problem! Beige, beige and red.

  6. After giving it some thought on the colors in RVs
    and just “starring” at the sage green valance and
    “listening” to all the comments about the colors …..
    Sage green and anything close to it including browns, beiges does remind me of nature. Which has everything to do with the outdoors….They are not trying bring out the current trend in colors but rather focusing on blended the interior with the exterior (outdoors)! And if that is true then this has always been the case and always will be…..The exception of course is the person who has one customized and chooses the color of their choice 🙂

  7. Granite, though it might now be popular with the masses, is still incredibly durable and beautiful. As is stained cabinetry, it doesn’t get more classic than stained woodwork. I live in a very chi chi town in NJ, so know many, many beautiful seemingly timeless white kitchens, but I live in a 1890s home – where a white kitchen would look very out of place. I have stained woodwork through out the house – and have stained cabinets, even in some bathrooms. So maybe the white kitchen is classic in post-1900 homes, especially the post WWW II more colonial homes but would look out of place in my home even in 2015. So there’s “classic” and then there’s “classic.”