Nothing has changed more than style over the last century. Art and clothing have gone through periods of minimalist and modern influences. More recent decades have seen a renewed interest in the styles of yesteryear as something being “retro” or “vintage” surges in popularity. If you’re sick of the same-old, same-old but feel like you’re stuck in a design rut you can’t get out of, perhaps gleaning some inspiration from the themes and styles from the last seventy years is just the solution you’ve been seeking.
The fifties began with soldiers going off to battle in Korea and ended with a period of brief relief. The style in the 1950s featured happy pastel colors, like mint green, which was used on everything from walls to toasters. People began buying multiple appliances for the convenience, and their popularity dramatically increased due to advertisements on radio programs and the emergence of television. Furniture was mid-century modern and featured clean, classic lines.
During the sixties, the U.S. was in the throes of the Vietnam War and people responded with a movement of advocating for “free love” and “flower power.” It was also a time when equality and civil rights were brought to light. Due to the complexities of culture clashes, the 1960s became an interesting period for style. The push was to freely express yourself, especially in your home — bright prints, bold colors and florals took over. Furniture design featured interesting shapes, like the beanbag chair, and a focus on the use of negative space.
The 1970s featured clothing that was tight and loose at the same time, and fabrics were soft, slippery polyester. Designers wanted to bring nature into the home while simultaneously embracing modern technology. What followed was a period of crafty macrame and nature inspired prints mixed with elements of glass and metal. Kitchens were filled with appliances in trendy avocado green and mustard yellow. Living rooms and bedrooms had cheap wood paneling on the walls and the comfort of shag carpet as flooring.
This decade was about being over the top. Furniture was overstuffed and covered with big floral patterns and prints. Wallpaper and popcorn ceilings were everywhere, and wall borders were brighter, bolder and busier. Kitchens had linoleum flooring and easy-to-clean laminate countertops. Fabrics were lace filled and covered with ruffles, and every girl’s dream was to have a canopy bed. The 1980s brought renewed interest in the style of the 1950s, with pastels re-emerging as a popular design trend. Culture livened everything up and pushed it all to the edge with bright neon everything.
The 1990s were a reaction to the increasing over-the-top tendencies of the 1960s through the 1980s. Instead of trying to please others and get their approval, the nineties were about expressing yourself as an individual. Designers stripped away the frou-frou, and style became very minimal and almost blasé. There was a return to clean lines and classic, timeless looks. Colors became very neutral, and popcorn ceilings and textured walls became so outdated that renovations were mandatory.
The early 2000s through the end of 2009 continued with the design trends of the nineties — clean lines and classic looks — but combined them with open, airy concepts accented with a few trendy elements. Popular color schemes included hues like navy, yellow and brown but in small doses, which added interest and emphasis without overpowering the room. There was also a renewed interest in the style of the 1950s and 1960s, as “vintage” or “retro” pieces found their way back into our homes. The overall style for the decade was considered to be refined yet eclectic.
2010 to Present
For designers, timeless and trendy has continued to be the goal. Redefining and combining neutrals is the most popular trend, but allows for interesting focal points and feature walls. Space is defined by purpose and function, not necessarily by the walls that contain it. Good lighting has also become more than a necessity since it’s is a way to define space and establish a room’s character. The latest push is to embrace the increasing eco-friendly and environmental possibilities with both building materials and décor. The most in-demand materials are recyclable or made from recycled products.
As our obsession with technology grows, designers can expect it to play an increasingly greater part in the elements we use to style our homes. In our busy lives, we want our home to feel like a refuge away from the rest of the world. We can anticipate the continued influence from the spa culture mixed with the simplistic beauty of nature and the design influence of Asian cultures to lead our design trends into the future.