The Gathering You could throw out the tape measure when it came to drapes, as the look was to puddle masses of material on the floor—an artful arrangement that made it oh-so-easy to do the weekly vacuuming.
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Slip Into Something More Comfortable Rachel Ashwell taught us that everything old could be new again—by looking old, thanks to some slipcovers and light distressing.
Wooden Delivery It may be ubiquitous in forests, but pine also became ubiquitous in kitchens, along with countertop bread makers and wine fridges.
I Can See Clearly Now Everyone was an engineer with land-line phones housed in translucent casings that allowed you to see their inner workings. The real mystery was how to decide between one of those and a hamburger phone.
Leave a Light On Forget the humble Edison bulb—halogen heat was the only way to illuminate a desk or end table. So what if it would occasionally burn through paper?
Big Audio Dynamite Turn it up to 11 on stereo speakers the approximate size of a Yugo—and about as easy to park.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It We brought nature inside—but only the dried, silk, plasticized version of it. Real plants, trees, and flowers remained firmly rooted in the great outdoors.
Country Living Even city dwellers could dream they were sleeping in pastoral England, thanks to Laura Ashley’s matching floral bedding with enough coordinated sheets, duvets, pillowcases, shams, dust ruffles, and throw pillows to fill your white enamel frame bed a thousand times over.
Then there are the 55- to 65-year-old baby boomers, who most often received “refined rustic” as their result on the style quiz. “‘Refined rustic,’ in particular, blends classic forms with a more informal rustic style, suggesting that these generations are looking for a comfortable feel to their homes,” says Wood. Perhaps life has taught them that a sharp-lined, sculptural armchair—a sure bet for millennials—isn’t what you want to cozy up in, well, ever.
But we might not have to agree to disagree, after all. Those born in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s (a.k.a. Generation Z) seem to be in cahoots with the boomers. “Rustic warmth” is the third most popular quiz result for them. “For Gen Z, we’re seeing a resurgence in popularity of classic styles, but layered with an informal twist,” says Wood. We just hope this isn’t a sign that scrunchies are back. . . .
At a Malibu home restored and decorated by BoydDesign, prized vintage pieces balance the living room, including 1946 Eames rosewood chairs for Herman Miller, a 1981 Paolo Piva cocktail table for B&B Italia, and a midcentury Laverne leather-and-chrome sofa.
Golden Arches Generous half-moons of glass topped traditional square windows to let in extra light, which then often needed to be blocked with a fan shade.
Rock Steady Crack open certain stones and you’d find them full of colorful crystal, ready to add a mystical element to something as mundane as the TV room.
The 1980s saw the rise of Reganomics and the birth of yuppies (and guppies and buppies…). America’s youth learned to Just Say No when it wasn’t watching MTV (Madonna! Michael Jackson! Milli Vanilli!) or the films of John Hughes. Television shows such as Dallas (Who shot JR?) and Falcon Crest were but one source of interior design inspiration. Here are some other gems of the decade:
Less is More Fans of austere minimalism pared down to the (carefully curated) basics—a shoji screen here, a single chair there, and greige everywhere.
Rise and Shine You didn’t need to live on a farm to have a flock of roosters, whose suburban habitat seemed to include a lot of ruffles, gingham, and other down-home touches.
See Here There was no playing footsie during dessert under clear glass dining tables that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a midtown law office’s conference room.
The scrunchies you adored in middle school probably cause you to shriek in horror today. As we grow, so does our fashion sense (hopefully). Does the same go for decor preferences? Interior design startup Modsy, which helps its users visualize potential new furniture in their real-life rooms, decided to find out. The platform analyzed user data based on its free style quiz, and quickly discovered that just as with the proper bedtime or the appropriate length of shorts, the young and old see interior design styles differently.
Sign of the Times Well before the dawn of the man cave, neon beer signs were finding their way from the bar to the basement, often joined by a street sign or two for good measure.
Take a Seat Was there anything more uncomfortable than a high-backed, carved wooden dining chair? Thankfully, many often had a floral cushion tied on the seat as a distraction.
Millennials (those ages 18 to 34) are seemingly obsessed with modern, minimal midcentury design, called “mod visionary” in the Modsy quiz. Alessandra Wood, a design history PhD and the director of style at Modsy, isn’t surprised. “Younger generations living in cities are likely living in smaller apartments and condos, so a minimalist aesthetic is more appropriate—perhaps even necessary!—for the size of their spaces,” she explains. “Midcentury-style furniture tends to feel more open and less bulky, and is known for being ‘livable,’ which translates to both comfortable and stylish. Urban areas are also the prime location for the industrial aesthetic, with tons of converted lofts and newer buildings mimicking the loft-feel.”
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Rack ‘Em Up And for listening on your state-of-the-art stereo? Why, your carefully curated CD collection, of course! Displayed for easy access on one—of usually many—stand-alone racks.
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Curtain Call There are drapes, and then there are drapes—floor-sweeping window coverings featuring all the bells and whistles, such as valances and swag and jabot. Guess which kind Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan had?
Skirting the Issue You’re never fully dressed without a smile—and your side table was apparently never fully dressed without a floor-length ruffled skirt and protective (from what?) glass topper.
Primary Colors Red, yellow, and blue weren’t a jumping off point for an envy-inducing bedroom like that of DJ Tanner in Full House—they were the main attraction.
It’s Electric Call it the Miami Vice effect—beigey backgrounds shot through with hints of teal and pink, a nod to the dapper stylings of Crockett and Tubbs.
The Joy of Painting The accessorizing trend even spread to walls, with stenciling, faux finishes, and sponge painting—just three of the ways we expressed our inner Bob Ross.
The dawn of the 1990s begat the introduction of Generation X and the World Wide Web (as well as the sound of phones nationwide dialing up the internet: You’ve got mail). Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office, where he assured citizens that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.” And America was transfixed by the slow-speed police chase of a white Ford Bronco in Los Angeles. When we were able to turn ourselves away from the TV, we surrounded ourselves with these comforts of home:
Go (South)west, Young Man So what if the closest you’d been to New Mexico was the local Taco Bell? With paintings of bleached cow skulls and pastel-hued sunsets, every living room could be a portal to the Old West.
Just Hanging Out Plants went from tabletop to hanging basket, with ivy and vines spilling from the ceilings of kitchens and living rooms.
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