1970s boho living room

Home Trends throughout the Decades

A look inside some of the best interior design trends - and the not so good!

With every decade comes new trends, in homes and throughout culture. Interior design trends ran from modest and simplistic to glamorous and bold. Whether you feel drawn to simplicity in neutral colors and plain furniture of the 1930s, a bold and vibrant palette that the 1920s or 1980s inspired, or maybe something that falls somewhere in between, there’s a decade for every taste.


The 1920s were known as the Roaring 20s, when Art Deco traveled from France to the US. World War I and the aftermath of the 1918 Spanish Flu were over and The Great Gatsby had just been published, so the country was excited to embrace the glamor and boldness of Art Deco. This interior design style often uses luxurious fabrics, sharp lines, mixed metallics, and rich color palettes with bright and deep yellows, greens, pinks, reds, and blues. Layered on top of the colors tends to be sharp geometric forms in chrome, gold, silver, or black. This combination creates a very dynamic and glamorous look.


The 1930s brought Modernism to interior design. After the stock market crash of 1929, which led to The Great Depression, not only were lives affected, but interior design trends as well. Since there was little to spend on decor, consumers embraced the practical use of materials and incorporated it into their home schemes. Much of Modernism design focuses on functionality in design, with the use of industrial materials like concrete, glass, and steel. People tended to have patterned rugs and mismatched furniture in their homes. There was less furniture and decor and rooms were painted with muted colors. The simplicity and muted colors reflected the hardship of the decade.


In 1939, World War II began, and because all resources were going towards the war efforts, interior design was a no-nonsense, practical, and functional endeavor. This began the American traditional style, with basic colors and a simple floral design. Wallpaper was used to brightly decorate the walls, furniture tended to be wooden with floral fabrics, and gingham was introduced as a trend in kitchens. Linoleum floors also became very popular for its price, easy cleanup, and the fun patterns it came in for kitchens.


The 1950s introduced the very popular Mid-century Modern interior design style. Pastels became popular while incorporating bold designs from fruit to polka dots. Linoleum floors had fun new designs to choose from and wall to wall carpet was now an option. Living rooms were filled with Scandinavian furniture and had big, beautiful large windows to tie the interior and outside scape. Kitchens had fancy new chrome appliances and formica tables were introduced with matching chrome legs and colors and patterns of all sorts.


The 1960s were quite groovy! Like fashion, interior design introduced neon colors, bold prints, and textured fabrics. The wild fabrics of the 60s were big influences of the hippie movement. Homes were adorned with shag carpeting and rooms full of wood-paneled walls. Lamps had interesting shapes and the paper lampshades were super colorful. Technology was also integrated in the home with microwave ovens, color television, and living room cabinet record players.


The 1970s were far out, man! The hippie movement flowed from the 60s into the 70s, and it continued to show in the interior design of homes. Self-expression was important and it translated in some decorating aspects, such as hanging plants or indoor gardens. Mustard yellow was a popular color that was usually combined with other bright colors. Furniture tended to have organic lines, colors, and forms. Living rooms were accessed by several steps leading down into the sunken space and featured massive fireplaces in natural materials. Homes also had large windows or skylights bringing in natural light and shag carpeting also became a big hit. And let us not forget the introduction of shag rugs!


The 1980s were known to be pretty rad and tubular times! Geometric shapes and pastels with matching accents were pretty trendy, and it showed in the decor and artwork of the 80s. Triangles were the most widely used of the geometric shapes, often paired with splashes of color, and showed up in furniture fabrics and wall art in a lot of homes. Windows would have floor sweeping drapes, and walls would be covered in mirrors and foiled wallpaper. This is also the time that open kitchen designs were introduced, removing the wall between the kitchen and living area. The biggest technology introduced into homes was probably the VCR and upgraded stereo systems.


The 90s reverted back to a minimalism style, with less flash and movement in the colors and patterns in homes. Natural wood and neutral colors became more common, sometimes paired with a detailed patterned wallpaper. Long drapes were still popular and wall-to-wall carpeting was all the rage. Any wood floors in the home would tend to be light-colored wood flooring, which matched well with pine furniture. The color Hunter Green also became popular, and flat screen tvs were introduced to homes at the end of the decade.


Once we all realized that we survived the non-existent threat of Y2K, we embraced the new century in our homes with upgrades to our living rooms. What was once a space to visit and conversate, turned into the ultimate media center – with larger televisions, CD players and speakers, and your entire rockin’ CD collection, DVDs and videotapes all on display. Homeowners became a little more conscious about materials that were better for the environment, such as environmentally-friendly appliances and eco-decor. Building a sunroom onto the house was a fun new way to add square footage and open floor plans became very popular. Light colors like beige, light pinks, and creams were incorporated into the fabrics and wall colors, and Shabby Chic interior design was a big hit.


This decade held onto some of the 2000s design hits and infused more handmade craftsmanship to showcase the DIY attitude of homeowners. Eclectic decor adorned the still popular open concept layouts, and patterns such as Chevron were very popular. Scandinavian minimalism and modern farmhouse (aka Shabby Chic) were everyone’s favorite way to redecorate. Shabby Chic started to fade a bit towards the end of the decade, but people still loved aspects of it, such as antique furniture, shiplap, industrial fixtures, and a simple color palette of grays, whites, and blacks.


Bonus! The 2020s are just getting started as far as interior design goes. Although we are just starting to define our style for this decade, we can’t deny that we are starting off strong with environmentally friendly designs and Boho decor is making a strong resurgence. Plants and wooden desks and floors are very popular, and surprisingly, natural materials such as wood paneling are starting to come back into style. Walls are adorned with woven art and tapestries or custom work from artists, rather than big box stores. But this is just the beginning! With the next few years, we will come into our own and define this decade with some pretty awesome design ideas, no doubt.

Although most of the interior design styles can be pretty bold and exciting when they first come, not all of them can hold on for the long haul. Some come back for a second shot in the limelight, and some stay gracefully their time. They all at least made their mark at one point in time, and we can’t help but appreciate each and every one. 

With that said, which decade speaks to you the most? Let us know in the comments!

Jessie Ellis

Jessie Ellis

Wife, friend and dog mom with 18+ years of education and 12+ years as a commercial design professional. Always inquisitive, creative and empathetic; trying to live each day with intention.


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