The Biggest Home Trends from the Decade You Were Born

Every year has its home design claims to fame—or, in some cases, shame. Walk with us down memory lane as we recall the biggest home trends of each decade, of few of which are making a comeback today.

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1920s – Inspired by Cubism

Cubism, the first abstract style of modern art, was developed in the early 1900s. Its angular lines and geometric shapes greatly influenced the visual aesthetics of the 1920s. When the abstract patterns of cubism began overtaking the realism of decades past, a new era of modern home design was born.

Related: 11 Clever Ways to Capitalize on Awkward Corners

1920s – Curvy Furniture

Prominent lines—whether angular or curved—were a hallmark of 1920s home design. New steel manufacturing techniques made it possible to incorporate polished metal into furniture, which allowed for dramatic arcs and contours.

Related: 14 Long-Forgotten House Trends We’re Glad Are Gone

1930s – Mirrored and Metallic

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The use of steel in furniture continued into the 1930s, but it went beyond chrome frames to encompass full metallic finishes on pieces like dressers and tables. The trend toward reflective elements in home decor extended to the generous inclusion of mirrors and mirrored surfaces. 

Related: 11 Types of Furniture That Are Going Extinct

1930s – Neutral Paint Finishes

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While homes of the 1920s favored bold color schemes, in the 1930s they tended toward more subdued tones. Neutral paint colors like cream, ivory, and light pastels rose in popularity.

Related: The New Neutrals: 9 Colors You Can Trust for Today’s Home

1940s – Sentimental Tradition

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The Second World War greatly influenced home trends in the 1940s. More sentimental designs, such as floral prints and ruffled draperies, replaced the grand, cooler accents of the past two decades. Traditional styles resurfaced as well, mixing with more modern trends to foster a sense of stability after the war years.

Related: 12 Ideas to Steal from Vintage Kitchens

1940s – Wall-to-Wall Carpet

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In the 1940s, hardwood floors became “old-fashioned” as stylish homeowners turned to wall-to-wall carpeting. This more affordable option imparted a sense of comfort that made spaces cozier and more inviting, perfect for gatherings of friends and family.

Related: How To: Get Rid of Every Carpet Stain

1950s – Wood Paneling

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Wood paneling began to gain popularity in the 1950s. The visually warm material, though inexpensive to install, added depth to bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. From knotty pine to engineered fiberboard panels, wooden accents prevailed in homes for the next 30 years. 

Related: 21 Clever Little Things to Do with Scrap Wood

1950s – Pastels

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The economic expansion and construction boom that followed World War II provided millions of families with affordable Ranch-style homes. In keeping with the era’s optimism and prosperity, the light pastels of the 1940s gave way to brighter shades in the ’50s, with mint green and cotton candy pink popping up in paint, tile, bathroom fixtures, and kitchen appliances.

Related: 9 Ways to Make Your Old Bathroom New Again

1960s – Clean Lines in Furniture

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Clean, simple lines and pared-down structure drove furniture design of the 1960s, when less was definitely more. Upholstery and framing became streamlined, and homeowners limited accessories to the essentials.

Related: 8 Sneaky Ways to Furnish Your Home for Less

1960s – Neons and Bold Colors

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The color schemes of the 1960s were shamelessly bold and flamboyant, with bright colors and rebellious combinations as the biggest trends. Pop art, including works by such painters as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, influenced both color and style in home decor of the era.

Related: 14 Retro Home Trends It’s Time to Revisit

1970s – Bold Wallpaper Prints

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The unabashed embrace of color in the 1960s set the tone for the arresting patterns of the 1970s. Wallpaper prints got bigger and bolder, and every room of the house became free game for a patterned treatment. In fact, wallpaper was even used on ceilings to completely envelop a room in print.

Related: 7 Reasons to Reconsider Wallpaper

1970s – Shag Carpeting

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Clean-cut trends of past decades were pushed aside in the exuberant 1970s, and nowhere was this more evident than in the immense popularity of shag carpeting. Nothing complements a cozy living room better than ultrasoft flooring!

Related: These 8 Vanished Home Trends Have Returned

1980s – Peach and Blue

Textiles inspired by the ikat dyeing technique prevailed in the 1980s, covering everything from armchairs to bedskirts. Color schemes often paired the iconic dusty blue with shades of peach, rose, and mauve.

Related: 10 Color Picks to Set Any Mood in Your Bedroom

1980s – Glass Block

Glass blocks have been commercially available since the early 1900s, but thanks to the popular TV show Miami Vice, they boomed in the 1980s. Because glass blocks have the unique ability to create privacy, divide a room, or accent a wall without obstructing sunlight, they continue to fill a crucial structural niche. 

Related: 10 Classic Ways to Brighten a Dark Room

1990s – Knotty Pine and White Kitchens

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The fast-paced and ostentatious excess of the 1980s spurred a return to basics in the ’90s. Light wood and knotty pine made their way into furniture, flooring, and cabinetry, while kitchens went white—a trend that continues today.

Related: 7 Things You Need to Know Before Painting Your Walls White

1990s – Brass Fixtures

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In the 1990s, homeowners incorporated brass everywhere, from cabinet knobs to bathroom faucets and lighting fixtures. The material blended well with furnishings and warmed up the trendy white and beige palettes of the decade.

Related: 9 Ways to Make a Half-Bath Feel Whole

2000s – The Home Office

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Communication technology exploded with the invention of the modern Internet in the late 1990s. In the aftermath, the number of U.S. workers telecommuting rose sharply, with 32 percent of the workforce doing some kind of work from home by the middle of the decade. It’s no surprise that the home office became one of the biggest home design trends of the early 21st century.

Related: 10 Space-Smart Ways to Squeeze In a Home Office

2000s – IKEA and Scandinavian Design

Modern style became affordable for the masses when Swedish furniture giant IKEA made its way to the United States. IKEA’s easy-to-assemble furnishings made simple Scandinavian design popular with cash-strapped college students, new home buyers, and established homeowners alike. Elements of IKEA’s signature clean-lined style crop up today in a host of other mainstream American outlets.

Related: 11 Totally Unexpected Uses for IKEA Furniture