Home Design Through the Ages: The ’80s and ’90s


As we continue our exploration of interior design trends throughout the last few decades, we come to the 1980s and 1990s.

The ’80s were characterized by wild exploration of ideas in new directions – some of these new ideas proved to be successful, many others did not. To some degree, we can say that designers in the ’90s were heavily influenced by their desire to get away from the garish trends that came out of the ’80s, leading to some rather dull designs. The late ’90s marked more exploration as the new millennium approached.

The ’80s
The dominant styles in the ’80s can be (mostly) broken into two groups. There are the ‘floral’ styles and the ‘new age’ styles. The open kitchen design trend began to take hold in the ’80s and is still preferred by many homeowners today.

Decorators and homeowners pursuing floral styles put flowers all over. Chintz was popular – a floral design that was used to cover everything from sofas to bed sheets to wallpaper. Modern renters still frequently have to look at vinyl floral wallpaper that is a remnant from this trend.

The new age style was marked by geometric shapes and bold color choices, and is instantly recognizable in old movies. This style – and the way that it began looking dated almost immediately – can serve as an object lesson to anyone considering a ‘modern’ design.

The ’90s
In the early ’90s, we see a lot of toned down esthetic choices. Beiges and off-whites became popular in response to the loud ’80s.

In some cases, the results were attractive. The emphasis on minimalism led to some designs that still look appealing today. All-white kitchens, for example, seem to be making a comeback. Pastel colored walls, on the other hand, are not.

By the end of the ’90s, things got a little weirder. Floral prints came back (briefly) with a vengeance in some homes, as did shag carpeting in the bathroom.

If nothing else, the ’80s and ’90s should serve as a warning to trend hoppers decorating their homes.

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