Interior Design by The Decade: Looking Back (And Forward) at Trends

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Buckle up, design aficionados! We’re about to embark on a whirlwind tour through the decades, exploring the rich tapestry of interior design trends that have shaped our spaces. From the groovy ’70s to the sleek 2020s, every era has its signature style. But here’s the twist: design is a boomerang, always making a comeback. So, let’s unravel the past to predict what retro waves might hit us next!

Why Does Retro Design Come Back?

Ever wonder why grandma’s wallpaper suddenly looks cool again? It’s all about the nostalgia factor, the cycle of fashion, and the thrill of rediscovery. Designs from the past evoke memories, offer comfort, and, let’s face it, they’ve got that unbeatable vintage charm. Plus, designers love to remix old-school cool with modern twists, keeping things fresh yet familiar.

Era General Description of Design Style
1970s Earthy, bohemian, with a splash of psychedelic flair. Indoor plants, open spaces, and handmade decor were key elements.
1980s Flashy, colorful, and tech-inspired. Mirrored surfaces, neon lights, and a touch of glam rock characterized this decade.
1990s Minimalist, neutral, with an emphasis on simplicity and natural materials. The rise of the home office and tech gadgets.
2000s Sleek, futuristic, with a focus on technology and open-plan living. Stainless steel and granite were hallmark materials.
2010s Personalized, eclectic, with a nod to vintage and artisanal elements. Sustainability and individual expression were key.
2020s Sustainable, multifunctional, emphasizing comfort and connection to nature. Biophilic design and smart homes take the lead.

A collection of moodboards showing a variety of decade-inspired design themes.

1970s: The Eclectic Era

As we turn the pages back to the 1970s, we step into an era marked by a bold departure from the minimalist tendencies of the mid-century, embracing instead an eclectic and vibrant tapestry of interior design. This was a time when the design world threw caution to the wind, mixing and matching with abandon, and creating spaces that were as much about personal expression as they were about function. The 1970s introduced us to a world where colors were unapologetically vivid, materials were diverse and textured, and the lines between indoor and outdoor living blurred. It was a decade that celebrated the unconventional, with an emphasis on individuality and a penchant for the earthy and organic. Let’s delve into the quintessential designs of the 1970s, a decade that continues to inspire with its daring approach and its fearless blend of style, comfort, and creativity.


Aesthetic Features:

  • Color Palette: Earth tones dominated, with avocado green, harvest gold, and burnt orange leading the way.
  • Materials: The use of wood paneling, shag carpets, and macramé was widespread.
  • Furniture: Modular furniture and bean bag chairs were popular, reflecting a shift towards more casual living spaces.
  • Design Features: Open floor plans became more common, and there was a significant emphasis on DIY and incorporating natural elements like houseplants.

1980s: The Bold and Glamorous

The 1980s roared onto the scene with an interior design ethos that was unapologetically bold and steeped in glamour. It was a decade that dared to stand out, characterized by its dynamic contrast of extravagant luxury and innovative modernity. This was the era where excess reigned supreme, from the indulgent use of neon colors and metallics to the embrace of geometric patterns and mirrored surfaces. The design landscape of the 1980s was a vivid reflection of the cultural zeitgeist, encapsulating the optimism and the burgeoning digital age’s influence. It was a time when interiors were not just spaces to live in but bold statements of individuality and aspiration. As we explore the quintessential designs of the 1980s, we find ourselves immersed in a period that remains influential for its fearless approach to color, pattern, and form, crafting spaces that were as memorable as they were distinctive.

Aesthetic Features:

  • Color Palette: Neon colors, pastels, and the extensive use of black and white.
  • Materials: The decade saw a rise in the use of glass, chrome, and mirrors, particularly in furniture.
  • Furniture: Oversized furniture with a penchant for luxury materials like leather and high-gloss finishes.
  • Design Features: The Memphis Design Movement brought in geometric shapes and bold patterns. Chintz fabric and wallpaper were also popular, as were vertical blinds.

1990s: Minimalism and Comfort

The 1990s marked a pivot in the world of interior design, steering away from the opulence and vibrancy of the preceding decades towards a more understated elegance characterized by minimalism and comfort. This era embraced the mantra ‘less is more’, favoring clean lines, neutral color palettes, and a focus on simplicity and functionality in living spaces. The 1990s saw a resurgence of natural materials like wood and stone, complemented by soft, inviting fabrics that added warmth and texture. This decade was about creating serene, uncluttered environments that served as sanctuaries from the fast-paced external world, reflecting a growing societal emphasis on wellness and mindful living. As we delve into the quintessential designs of the 1990s, we uncover a period that laid the groundwork for many of the sustainable and minimalist trends that continue to influence interior design today.

Aesthetic Features:

  • Color Palette: Muted and neutral colors like beige, taupe, and gray were favored.
  • Materials: The use of natural materials such as wood and stone was prevalent, along with the introduction of sustainable materials.
  • Furniture: Simpler, more streamlined furniture designs with a focus on comfort and functionality. The rise of flat-pack furniture and the influence of Scandinavian design.
  • Design Features: Minimalism became a guiding principle, with a focus on decluttered spaces and functional design. Technology began to influence design with the advent of home offices.

2000s: The Tech-Driven and Eclectic Mix

As the new millennium dawned, the early 2000s ushered in an era of interior design marked by a fascinating blend of technological advancement and eclectic stylistic fusion. This period was characterized by a confident experimentation with materials, forms, and an embrace of global influences, reflecting the era’s expanding digital horizons and interconnectedness. The influence of technology was unmistakable, not just in the sleek, futuristic gadgets that found their way into homes, but also in the design spaces themselves, which became more adaptable to the fast-evolving digital lifestyle. Amidst this tech-driven ethos, there was a nostalgic nod to the past, with vintage and retro elements making a comeback, creating a unique juxtaposition of the old and new. The early 2000s were a testament to the dynamism of interior design, a time when spaces were tailored to be as multifunctional and diverse as the lives of those inhabiting them. As we explore the quintessential designs of the early 2000s, we delve into a period that set the stage for many of the personalized and tech-integrated living environments we see today.

Aesthetic Features:

  • Color Palette: A mix of bold colors and earth tones, with a significant influence from global design leading to more vibrant hues.
  • Materials: The introduction of new materials and finishes, including industrial metals and recycled materials.
  • Furniture: A mix of traditional and contemporary, with the popularity of statement pieces like the iconic “Ghost Chair” by Philippe Starck.
  • Design Features: The influence of technology was evident with the integration of home entertainment systems and the rise of “smart homes”. There was also a strong trend towards personalization and customization.

2010s: The Digital and Sustainable Era

The 2010s heralded a transformative era in interior design, where the digital age’s boundless possibilities met a rising consciousness about sustainability and well-being. This decade was marked by a harmonious blend of technology and nature, with interior spaces reflecting a growing emphasis on eco-friendly practices and materials alongside the seamless integration of digital devices. The minimalist aesthetic continued to evolve, softened by organic textures and pops of vibrant colors that added personality and warmth. The influence of social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest democratized design, inspiring individuals to curate their living spaces with a mix of vintage finds, artisanal touches, and DIY elements. The 2010s were about creating environments that were not only aesthetically pleasing but also mindful of environmental impact and supportive of a balanced lifestyle. As we delve into the quintessential designs of the 2010s, we uncover a period where the home became a reflection of one’s values, blending form, function, and sustainability in innovative ways.

Aesthetic Features:

  • Color Palette: Neutral colors with pops of bold accent colors. Pastels, particularly “millennial pink,” became emblematic of this era.
  • Materials: A continued emphasis on sustainable and eco-friendly materials. Reclaimed wood and recycled materials became more mainstream.
  • Furniture: Mid-century modern furniture saw a resurgence in popularity. The rise of multifunctional and space-saving furniture, reflecting smaller living spaces.
  • Design Features: The influence of social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram led to a democratization of design. There was a strong focus on sustainable living, indoor-outdoor living, and biophilic design, incorporating natural elements into interiors.

2020s: The Well-being and Multifunctional Space

As we navigate the 2020s, interior design trends are profoundly shaped by a collective reevaluation of what it means to inhabit our spaces, emphasizing well-being, flexibility, and a deepened connection with nature. This era is responding to unprecedented global shifts, bringing the concepts of multifunctionality and wellness to the forefront of design. Living spaces are being reimagined to accommodate remote work, learning, and fitness, reflecting a desire for environments that can adapt to the varied facets of our daily lives. Amidst this evolution, there’s a palpable yearning for the outdoors and sustainability, with biophilic design principles guiding the integration of natural elements and materials into our interiors. The 2020s are setting a new blueprint for living spaces that prioritize health, comfort, and adaptability, underpinned by a commitment to environmental stewardship and personal well-being. As we explore the quintessential designs of this era, we step into a landscape where our homes are not just places to live but sanctuaries that nurture and adapt to our ever-changing needs.

Aesthetic Features:

  • Color Palette: Warm neutrals, soft, earthy tones, and nature-inspired hues reflecting a turn towards comfort and sustainability.
  • Materials: Natural and sustainable materials continue to be in the spotlight, with an increased focus on health and cleanliness leading to antimicrobial materials gaining popularity.
  • Furniture: Furniture that supports well-being and multifunctionality, with adaptable and ergonomic designs for work-from-home setups.
  • Design Features: The pandemic’s influence is notable with a focus on creating multifunctional spaces within the home, such as home offices, gyms, and outdoor living areas. A significant emphasis on mental health and well-being leads to design choices that promote calm, comfort, and connection to nature.

Further Reading

  1. Retro Renovation
    A delightful nook for anyone obsessed with mid-century and vintage home designs. From paint colors that scream the ’50s to authentic restoration tips for your vintage bathroom, this blog has it all. Visit Retro Renovation
  2. Apartment Therapy’s Vintage Section
    Apartment Therapy is a treasure trove of interior design ideas, and their vintage section is no exception. It’s packed with house tours, DIYs, and tips for incorporating vintage finds into modern spaces. Explore Apartment Therapy’s Vintage Tips
  3. Vintage Revivals
    Follow along with Mandi as she tackles home renovation projects, transforming spaces with her unique blend of vintage and modern design. Her blog is a great resource for DIY ideas and thrifting tips. Check out Vintage Revivals
  4. Old Brand New
    Dabito’s blog is a feast for the eyes, showcasing his knack for mixing bold colors, patterns, and vintage pieces in a way that feels fresh and contemporary. His home tours are a must-see for any design enthusiast. Visit Old Brand New
  5. The Design Files – Vintage
    This Australian design blog features a fantastic vintage section where you can explore a variety of homes that beautifully integrate vintage elements into modern Australian living. Dive into The Design Files

Interior Design FAQs

What makes Korean interior design unique?2024-01-02T19:27:31+00:00

Korean interior design is unique for its blend of minimalism, love for nature, and thoughtful use of space. It’s characterized by natural materials, functional layouts, and a serene, harmonious aesthetic that reflects the country’s cultural values and history.

What furniture is used in Korean interior design?2024-01-02T19:27:28+00:00

Furniture in Korean interior design is often low to the ground, simple, and made from natural materials like wood. Pieces are chosen for both functionality and aesthetic, with an emphasis on clean lines and minimalistic forms.

What is a Hanok house?2024-01-02T19:26:26+00:00

A Hanok house is a traditional Korean home known for its wooden structure, tiled roof, and heated ondol floors. Designed to maintain harmony with the surrounding environment, Hanoks are admired for their use of natural materials and efficient, open layouts.

How to decorate in Korean style?2024-01-02T19:26:07+00:00

To decorate in Korean style, focus on minimalism, natural elements, and functional spaces. Use neutral colors, wooden furniture, and natural fabrics. Incorporate traditional Korean elements like sliding doors or Hanji (traditional Korean paper) lamps for an authentic touch.

What color should I choose for a small bathroom?2023-12-14T17:47:03+00:00

Light, neutral colors or cool tones like light blues or greens can make a small bathroom feel larger and more open.

How do I choose a color scheme for a room with limited natural light?2023-12-14T17:47:05+00:00

In rooms with limited natural light, opt for lighter and brighter colors to make the space feel airier and more open. Reflective hues can help bounce the available light around the room.

Is it okay to mix different colors in one room?2023-12-14T17:45:55+00:00

Yes, mixing colors can add depth and interest to a room. Just ensure they complement each other and maintain a balanced look. Using a color wheel to identify complementary and contrasting colors that align with your base color is one great way to make sure the mix of colors match. Another option is using recommended matched colors based on recommendations from your paint provider.

How do I choose a color scheme for my living room?2023-12-14T17:44:50+00:00

Start with colors you love and consider the mood you want to set. For a serene space, go with cool colors; for a vibrant feel, choose warmer hues.

What’s the best color for a relaxing bedroom?2023-12-14T17:44:24+00:00

Soft, muted colors like light blues, gentle greens, and warm neutrals are ideal for a relaxing bedroom environment.

How can I embrace the art of slow living in my daily life?2023-12-12T19:17:09+00:00

Designate comfortable corners in your home for relaxation, practice mindful decor by surrounding yourself with meaningful items, and cultivate a kitchen space for preparing and enjoying nourishing meals with loved ones.

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