| Homeowners

As real estate agents, we’ve seen what seems like an outlandish number of interior design trends come and go. Design is constantly evolving and is influenced by a whole lot of things from technology to eco-concerns and fashion to the economy. Heck even music has a role in interior aesthetics with Beyoncé’s “Cowboy Carter” making homeowners go fringe crazy, running out to buy all things leathery, rustic, and down home ranchy. Goodbye Dark Academia, hello Western Gothic! 

And that presents a challenge for homeowners when making interior updates — namely choosing the types of upgrades that aren’t just passing fancies, but instead offer an everlasting sense of style. 

While you might be thinking, it’s my house and my design style that counts, that’s fair. But if you plan to sell say in the next five years or so, you don’t want to find out the hard way that the lasso-inspired hemp rope banister and railings you love so much is discouraging offers! 

Since interior design can be super tough decision-wise, we thought we’d shed some light on the things that never go out of style in the average buyer’s eyes. And you know what? We think you’ll be perfectly content focusing on any of these elements of eternal style.

Practical, But Beautiful Built-in Storage

Whether it’s a killer walk-in closet, living room shelves/cabinets flanking your fireplace, or something clever like hidden storage under your window seat, homeowners never have enough storage. Built-ins are the ultimate storage feature that helps keep homeowners organized. Some rooms where built-in storage will likely join the ranks of desirable design elements include:

  • Laundry rooms
  • Mudrooms
  • Walk-in closet/dressing rooms
  • Below stairs
  • Home offices
  • Entries

The Warm Glow of a Fireplace

Who doesn’t love a fireplace? Fireplaces conjure up romantic visions of chilly evenings snuggled up by the fire with a glass of wine. They’re all about cozy, with a punch of focal point, both big selling features for buyers. However, fireplace trends can persuade homeowners to make ill-advised decisions, so we’d say proceed with caution! Some things to avoid include:

  • Techie (or should we say tacky?) things like smart colour light features 
  • Completely removing functionality of a fireplace in good condition
  • Removing the character of an original fireplace in homes from important periods, i.e., Victorian, Edwardian or the 1930’s
  • Non-compliant designs that go against local fire regulations, aka inspection nightmares
  • Anything too specific design-wise like say a Spanish inspired plaster finish or cement

Get more design inspo with these posts next:

Neutral Palettes (with a Caveat!)

Neutral colour palettes are ageless. BUT there is one caveat: Neutral palettes change! For example, greys have been the neutral of choice for a good decade now but are falling out of favour as warmer tones in beiges and browns emerge. This isn’t your average yellowish, blah builder’s beige but instead an elegant family of beige meets tan meets ivory meets light brown tones that envelope the room like a warm blanket. However, grey is also seeing a refresh in “griege” tones that blend beige and grey like Sherwin Williams’ Skyline Steel, Benjamin Moore’s Edgecombe Gray, Behr’s Grey Mist or Farrow and Ball’s Elephant’s Breath to name a few.

Clawfoot Statement Tubs

Although some people are tired of the clawfoot tub, it remains a classic feature especially in homes with historical character. The whole free-standing tub trend is also still a thing, but again, what is considered a “statement” tub today will likely not be quite as impressive a statement down the road. If you’re lucky enough to have a clawfoot tub in your home, you might consider repainting the outside to match your new design scheme, or at least selling it as people are always looking for original clawfoots. You can use the money towards your new tub! Also, because blending styles is completely acceptable, you’d be surprised how suddenly, your boring clawfoot becomes a statement piece against the rest of your bathroom’s upgrades (especially with that new bougie chandelier hanging above it!).

Green Goddess Natural Materials

Natural materials will always be in style. They have long been recognized as the higher end of interior design materials such as hardwood floors, natural stone countertops, and marble bathroom tiles. Natural materials will also continue to hold their own as people seek homes with natural materials that won’t release volatile organic chemicals (VOC) into the air. In this case, avoid things like high contrasting stone and marbles, too-specific staining on wood finishes, and any kind of trendy washes or out of the ordinary materials with too distinct a look.

Character Building Crown Moulding

Crown moulding is the ultimate final touch in any style of home and in any room. It adds that subtle character that speaks volumes about the attention to detail you’ve put into your home. When installed properly (buyers will see those imperfections like mismatched angles in corners), it creates that artisanal feel that newer homes lack. So, when upgrading your interiors, this is an excellent investment that will really show well when you sell.

Does renovating your home increase your property taxes? Read more here.

Hello Handsome Hardwood Floors

Of course, hardwood floors are the gold standard of flooring, but remember even hardwood floors go through trends. So, we would say to avoid anything that’s too dark, too light, too grainy/knotty, too narrow (plank-wise) or too eclectically installed. A good rule of thumb is to go mid-tone warm, medium to wider plank, and matte-leaning on the finish to make sure the floors don’t become outdated too quickly. It’s a big investment, so even if this is your forever home, you don’t want to wake up one day and decide you hate your hardwood because it suddenly feels ultra specific.

Attention to Symmetry

We’re not talking about something like furniture placement, although this is important when selling a home. What we’re talking about here is making sure anything you either remove or install doesn’t create a feeling of unbalance in the space. Our eyes tend to look for symmetry and most people find it pleasing. So, for example, if you were to remove just a small section of built-in shelves to make way for more wall space, the room might look lopsided. Another example would be installing built-in storage on just one side of the fireplace. Making sure built-in features, whether newly installed or removed maintain symmetry will appeal to the average eye. These are the fundamentals of a well-proportioned space which makes people feel calm, compared to modern asymmetry that tends to feel more chaotic. 

Streaming Natural Light

Rooms streaming with natural light are always more desirable than dark, pokey rooms. Paying attention to natural light sources in your home and finding ways to improve natural light in your space will create a soothing, calming effect that makes your home feel airy, spacious, and more cheerful. Things like expanding window size, adding more windows, installing skylights, or opening interior walls all create a light filled home that is easier on the eyes and your energy bills. 

Just keep symmetry in mind when adding windows, as two very differently shaped or sized windows in a room can feel off. See element #8! Oh, and if you want to remove a window due to privacy issues, a better solution might be to install window treatments like top-down bottom-up light filtering shades or applying “window wallpaper” to block out views without blocking out light. Closing off a window to create more wall space or get more privacy should be carefully considered as once you do it, it’s hard to undo.

Original Character

Character. There’s just no getting around the fact that character sells. It’s tempting to tear out things that feel terribly outdated, like dark original wood panels, coffered ceiling trim, or overly ornate Victorian plaster corbels but the original character of a home is a highly valued interior design feature buyers appreciate. In fact, tearing out period features turns off buyers willing to pay big bucks for a character home. That’s why we try to steer buyers away from a Victorian rowhouse or classic 1930s arts and crafts influenced home if they plan to rip out the beautifully persevered original features. It’s better to shop for a home devoid of those characteristics instead of investing in tearing them out! 

Here’s some vintage-looking period features people tend to value, and we highly recommend you preserve:

  • Any kind of mouldings
  • Stair bannisters and other stair related features
  • Solid wood doors 
  • Hardware, like doorknobs
  • Cast iron heating grates
  • Fireplaces
  • Etched French doors
  • Stained or leaded glass windows
  • Vintage tiles 
  • Original built-in China cabinets
  • Vintage porcelain kitchen sinks
  • Clawfoot tubs

Also, don’t underestimate the value of quality architectural features unique to any era such as mid-century modern floating built-in teak cabinetry or a 1930s phone nook! That stuff is real estate gold! Buyers love authentic, and character homes are nothing but!

Functional Space

People want to feel a sense of flow in their homes. So, any changes that improve your home’s function create welcoming spaces that make sense. This can include something like open concepts but can also be something like reconfiguring the kitchen, so the fridge doesn’t sit in the mudroom or a hallway! 

Flow also helps spaces feel larger because nothing is out of place or squished into an awkward position that disrupts how people travel from one place to another. 


  • How the layout improves efficiency 
  • How installations impact the way each area of the home connects
  • The cohesiveness of designs in open spaces such as unified flooring and paint colours
  • Improving storage throughout the home so what you need is where you need it (See element #1)

Outdoor Living Space

Outdoor living spaces, even tiny condo balconies, help expand usable square footage. Additions to backyards such as patios and decks and sliding glass doors that help create functional, accessible outdoor living space will always add value to your home. Things that could be a little less appealing would-be high maintenance, high-cost items like pools, ponds, or expensive landscaping that looks great but requires hours of attention every weekend! These backyard updates are too specific and would only appeal to a certain type of buyer. 

While creating your own sense of style is important to your home’s interior design, choosing everlasting permanent interior design materials and finishes will help maintain your home’s value and prevent your home from feeling dated far too soon.

Considering major changes in your home but worried about home value? Call The Christine Cowern Team at 416.291.7372 or email us at hello@christinecowern.com with any questions or to set up a call. We’d love to work with you!