* Cheap or highly stylized cabinets. Cheap doesn't hold up, and extreme cabinets -- of any style -- will date the kitchen, and buyers know they're expensive to replace.
* High-maintenance materials that will age quickly without meticulous care. Concrete and granite countertops are porous and absorb oil and odors; stark white grout on colored tile gets grimy fast.
* Fashion. Purple tile, navy woodwork, orange anything. "If you get trendy, people figure they'll have to redo it. If you have gaudy tile, people factor in replacing it," said Bill Hicks, president of Cream City Construction in Milwaukee. "Trendy puts a drag on the resale value of the renovation."
* Specialty rooms. In-law suites, complete with kitchenettes, and professional-style home offices actually decrease the value of houses, according to an analysis of 29,000 home sales conducted by G. Stacy Sirmans, a Florida State University real estate professor. "Those are spaces with very limited functional space. And an in-law suite -- who needs two kitchens?" he said. The lesson for remodelers: Extremely specialized space, including hobby space, such as a darkroom, probably won't charm most buyers into paying more, unless you luck into a buyer who wants precisely that kind of space.