Popcorn ceilings

According to data compiled by the National Association of Home Builders, the average American homeowner spent about $1,600 on improvements for their dwelling. Ideally, these were fixes to essential systems inside the home, or some basic remodeling intended to spruce things up and increase resale value. If you still have some extra cushion in this year's remodeling budget, you may be considering a trendy update to keep your home looking fresh and modern. If that's the case, Realtor.com would like to point you in the right direction by advising you which home improvements are decidedly not cool anymore.

Shag carpet

Also known as cottage cheese or stucco ceiling, this spray-on material was popular from the late 1950s through to the '80s. While the spongy ceiling made for favorable acoustic performance in otherwise echo-heavy basements, it came with some unfortunate side-effects. Among the most serious, popcorn ceiling could contain the cancer-causing asbestos. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, much of the stuff manufactured from earlier decades , which can be harmful if small amounts are inhaled over a period of several years. As Realtor.com noted, popcorn ceilings also tend to absorb odors and will stain easily. If you've been cursed enough to inherit popcorn ceilings, it's not entirely permanent. According to home improvement writer Ron Hazelton, the process of removal is fairly straightforward for a contractor to accomplish. If you have popcorn ceiling in your home, consider an environmental screening to determine whether it contains asbestos.

Excessive wallpaper

In terms of notorious home decor choices, shag carpet is perhaps the most well-known and most widely mocked offender of the bunch. Of course, carpet is often less expensive than hardwood floors, and can certainly increase the coziness factor of any room. However, according to many experts, there are at least a few downsides to shag. The long and thick threads in the carpet are too much for most vacuum cleaners to handle, requiring costly and frequent cleaning. Rug and carpet care blog Rugchick.com notes that shag carpets often cost more to get professionally cleaned, and even doing so yourself can be a hassle. Shag carpet is extremely dense and holds dirt in easily. Besides the financial aspect, shag has become synonymous with the questionable fashion and design choices of the '70s. Realtor.com suggested doing away with excess carpet in general, particularly in the bathroom, where dirt and grime tend to accumulate in the most unsightly ways.

Home improvement that pays off

Up until fairly recently, using a different wallpaper for individual rooms was in vogue in many homes. Others favored the use of a particularly busy pattern of wallpaper. In case you aren't current on the latest interior design trends, many patterns that used to be considered trendy would now look outrageous even on gift wrapping paper. As Realtor.com wrote, try to go for something more neutral. A quick paint job usually won't take more than a weekend with two people and a large room.

If you're looking to make a change in your home that may end up actually repaying you when it's time to sell, This Old House compiled to keep you on the straight and narrow. Most importantly, keep your expectations in check. If your goal is to add value, swimming pools actually tend to achieve the opposite effect. Renovations that boost curb appeal tend to give the best returns on investment, even if it's as simple as a new front door.