Design Through the Decades

Interior design is driven by the world around us—and just like our world, it’s constantly changing. Each decade is marked by its own style movements and trends. T&S is taking a look back at 100 years of design trends.

art deco
In 1922, King Tutankhamun’s Egyptian tomb was discovered, captivating the world. The motifs of ancient civilizations along with the combination of cubist art is found throughout art deco design. The style celebrates ornamentation with a focus on luxurious materials, sensuous contours, repeating patterns and bold colors.

art moderne
With the Great Depression, the opulence of Art Deco gave way to the industrial practicality of Art Moderne or Streamline Moderne. The sleeker, more minimalist approach to design stripped away the ornamentation to focus on aerodynamics and curving forms. The decade also embraced metalwork, black and white flooring, modern furnishings and bold geometrics.

wartime transition
World War II put design innovation on hold. Industry shifted to focus on the war effort, and there were material shortages for consumer goods. Even after the war, steel and metal were in short supply, so wood became the material of choice. Interior design had a more cobbled together approach for the average homeowner with a patchwork of elements.

midcentury modern
Thanks to a newly prosperous middle class, modernism hit the mainstream with mid century modern design in the ’50s. Elements like Terrazzo floors, light wood and minimalist lines replaced more traditional, ornate decor. The Space Race also had an impact on home decor with starburst and boomerangs motifs appearing on items like barware, clocks, lamps and upholstery.

counterculture dynamic
The 1960s were marked by dynamic, graphic and colorful design—thanks in part to the rebellion of young people against tradition. Furniture from materials like Lucite, fiberglass and colored plastic was mass produced affordably. Other popular elements include lava lamps, paisley and floral prints, and color palettes inspired by India and Morocco.

back to nature
While the 1950s and 1960s embraced an idealized look toward the future, the ’70s saw interior design that embraced nature and romanticized the past. Instead of mass-produced, sleek furniture, items with a more natural, handcrafted aesthetic became popular. Modernism shifted to maximalism with woven textiles, wood paneling, houseplants and natural materials like stone, granite and wicker taking center stage.

to the max
Excess defined the 1980s, and interior design was no exception. The move toward maximalism that started the decade before was complete. Memphis design became popular with bright colors, abstract decoration and whimsical asymmetrical shapes. Styles like country and prep also took off with more subdued color palettes but a bold focus on pattern with curtains, wallpaper and upholstery.

shabby chic
The ’90s hit the brakes on the loud ’80s aesthetic. Color palettes became more muted with sage, dark green, rustic golds, terra-cotta, earthy reds and beige. Repurposing items and thrifting also became popular for young homeowners, leading to the rise of shabby chic design. Hallmarks included chalk-painted furniture, slipcovered sofas, crystal chandeliers and iron beds with canopies.

return to minimalism
The early 2000s built on the trends of the ’90s and saw the rise of the McMansion early in the decade. However, following major events like 9/11 and the Great Recession in 2007, mid century modern saw a resurgence. The maximalist approach of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s was rejected for minimalism and cleaner lines. Materials like stainless steel and granite also saw a boom in popularity.

modern farmhouse
The 2010s saw the rise of modern farmhouse design—thanks in part to the desire for a nostalgic look back to simpler times. The rustic charm of traditional farmhouse style is given a modern update with clean lines and high contrast neutrals. The look generally features barn doors, rustic wood, shiplap walls or ceilings, and exposed beams and stone or brick.

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