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Design Features That Sell Homes: Barn Doors, Subway Tile, and More

Some may surprise you

If you've been following Curbed's weekly dives into home decor trends, you'll know that features like farmhouse sinks, subway tiles, exposed brick are very popular right now, if not totally overexposed. While some of us are ready to bid those trends adieu—though readers have been quick to argue you should do whatever you like with your house and we agree!—a new analysis from Zillow Digs, the real estate site's home improvement portal, reveals another reason we shouldn't readily dismiss those trends. Farmhouse sinks, subway tiles, and especially barn doors, as it turns out, can very well improve your chances of selling a home faster and for a higher price.

For the report, Zillow's economists analyzed listing descriptions for over two million homes sold between January 2014 and March 2016 nationwide, watching out for how specific keywords influence final sale prices. (They controlled for the size, age, and location of the homes, and the quarter they went on the market.) Out of 60 keywords analyzed, a number of them showed a clear positive impact on sales.

Homes with barn doors, which are sliding doors often found in rustic-chic kitchens and bedrooms, sold for 13.4 percent more and 57 days faster on average than their estimated market value and expected sell time. Shaker cabinets on average add a 9.6 percent premium to the sell price and take 45 days off the listing duration. And homes with farmhouse sinks sold for 9.6 percent more and 58 days faster than expected.

As you might suspect, indiscriminately adding a barn door to just any property probably won't directly change the sale price or speed. Rather, as Zillow's chief economist Skylar Olsen tells Bloomberg, "Barn doors are a signal of a strong design sense. People that design homes or fix them up with barn doors might have their eyes toward other key design elements that people value, like a farmhouse sink or an open kitchen."

Aside from these top keywords, which suggest the "modern farmhouse" is the trendy (and perhaps even moneymaking) look right now, other favorable design features include: "quartz," "craftsman," "exposed brick," "pendant light," and "frameless shower."

Which design elements would you be willing to pay a premium for? Which have you found to be serious dealmakers when selling homes? Sound off in the comments below.