Design Through the Decades

As the new year rings, we are turning the page on another decade as we enter into 2020. The feeling of nostalgia is overwhelming as we look back through the past century and see how times truly have changed. From current events, technology, fashion, and music, our favorite thing to see is the evolution of styles and trends. Throughout each decade, homes tended to conform to the changing world around them. Let's take a look at home design through the decades to see what we may be able to expect as we enter 2020.


The twenties were a decade that made the country roar. Towards the end of World War I, life started moving pretty fast as a new sense of freedom and growth emerged. People started rejecting many moral standards and traditional taboos. Styles changed all over from music to clothing to home decor. In the '20s, homes were rich and decadent in colors and decor and started the transition into functional more than ornamentation. The opening of the Bauhaus radically transformed the way that art and furniture were established introduced what would one day be called 'modern minimalism.' Colors were deep and rich throughout houses in a bold monochromatic color scheme. Heavily polished dark wood made its way through just about every inch of the home, from floors to furniture. Oriental touches of copper and pewter added glamour and lavishness, and often statement pieces from other countries added an exotic touch, such as a decadent rug or art piece on the mantle. Lighting fixtures were ornate and very detailed, most often copper or pewter. If we could choose one word to describe this decade, it would be 'glamour.'

  • 1920's living room with deep colors and patterns

  • 1920's den with a decadent rug and art pieces on the mantle

  • 1920's dining room with European details and dark wood

  • Glamorous 1920's bedroom with bold colors 

  • 1920's foyer with ornate copper lighting fixtures


Following the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the 1930s had some adapting to do. Because of the Recession, people were less focused on living lavish and more concentrated on what are necessities. Design styles followed closely from the decade prior because people were more likely to make the most of what they already owned rather than spending more money on ornate things. New homes were created with features that made the most of the little space there was, such as built-in ironing boards, telephone cabinets, and window boxes. Modernism and simplicity called for a more subtle color palette, which pushed patterns out and welcomed lighter colors in. Plywood and plastics made an appearance throughout American homes due to the fact that they were both cheap to produce in bulk. The machine age was ramping up, and fabrics were being mass-produced in simpler colors such as jade, pale green, tans, blues, and gold. Lighting fixtures still held the art deco influence from previous decades, full of deep, bold colors and a lot of gold. Because of the introduction of the machine age, chrome and bakelite were easy to produce in bulk, which then started to become more prevalent in fixtures as well.

  • 1930's living room with jade, pale green, tans and gold

  • 1930's living room with a bright color palette

  • 1930's bedroom with art-deco lighting fixtures

  • 1930's living room that shows the transition to simplistic style


The 1940s were an unsettling time for the most part, and also has one of the most distinct differences between the first half and the second half of the decade. It is hard to define the years outside of the boundaries of World War II. During the first five years, the country was still in the mindset of making the most of what they already have, and shortages in resources demanded that rationing be implemented to support the war efforts. The first half of the decade kept styles and design the same as the thirties. After the war was over, however, the country ramped back up and hit recovery-mode. Factories that were once producing war materials switched to improve future industries. European immigrants entered the workforce and started influencing design and culture. Women returned to the home, and a baby boom spiked a shortage in single-family homes. Previous art-deco design influences were tainted by an increasing desire for modernism and traditionalism. Americans had an increasing sense of gratitude and patriotism, which influenced the way that materials were used and also the new color scheme of the decade. Red, white, and blue became more prominent throughout homes as the country created a brighter future. With that, colors, in general, became richer, bolder, and more brilliant. European touches entered the homes in ways of blonde wood, colonial furniture, ruffles, tufts, and scallops. Some other 1940's styles included the introduction (and overuse) of linoleum, wall-to-wall carpet, wallpaper, and knotty pine. Lighting fixtures consist of geometric patterns, glass shades, and an incorporation of natural woods.

  • Early 1940's den with 1930's style

  • 1940's bedroom that shows the transition to simpler features

  • 1940's dining room with European influences

  • Post-war 1940's kitchen with bright colors and linoleum features

  • Post-war 1940's kitchen with bright colors and linoleum features  

  • Post-war 1940's color palette

  • Post-war 1940's color palette 

  • Post-war 1940's color palette

  • Post-war 1940's kitchen with simpler color palette and linoleum 

  • Post-war 1940's kitchen with red, white and blue color palette


Continuing the post-war recovery, the 1950s were full of abundance and prosperity. The United States radiated a positive outlook and focused on comfort and leisure. Middle-class families flourished and started leaving the hustle-and-bustle lifestyles in the cities to slow down in the suburbs. New designs began to appear, which were influenced by space exploration and new technologies. Colors, furniture, and designs turned from All-American to modern and what they believed to be futuristic. Newly built homes were ranch-style with open concept living. Pastel colors made an appearance in almost every inch of the house, from wallpaper and carpets to toilets and appliances - everything was colorful. Furniture style was transitioning into minimalist Scandinavian style (think Ikea) to fit the feel of the future. There also was plenty of furniture that was inspired by the Space Race, such as UFO-shaped lighting pendants and boomerang-shaped coffee tables. Linoleum was still around and, in fact, newly improved and now colorful too. For the first time ever, plastic appeared in most household accessories. Lighting fixtures were transitioned to become decor rather than just for practical use. They were made in outlandish shapes and styles such as cats, gazelles, poodles, and geometric forms that symbolize the future of space - mostly topped with parchment or fabric shades. With new technology, kitchens featured chrome and steel countertop appliances such as blenders and coffee makers, as well as double ovens and even washers and dryers. There were very few living rooms that did not have a television and a turntable. The 1950s was a decade of positivity that reflected throughout every aspect of the home, from the colors to the features that made entertaining a priority.

  • 1950's living room with Space-Race influenced features

  • Scandinavian-syle furniture in this 1950's living room

  • 1950's kitchen with colored linoleum countertops and cabinets

  • Open-concept 1950's living room

  • Open-concept 1950's house with television and countertop appliances


Saying that any past decade was a new and exciting time of change and growth for the country is true for almost all of them, but somehow it is even more true of the '60s. The Space Race and the Cold War were two very defining events of the time period, as well as the opening of the first "discotheque." Ideas were coming to light, trends were quickly changing, culture was rich, and certain social issues were finally being addressed. The heart of the decade was defined by the younger generation rebelling against traditions and rules that once were identified by their elders. This cultural revolution impacted fashion, music, and even home decor. If you didn't think it was possible following the '50s, everything did, indeed, become even more colorful. Homes and fashion featured very bright and bold color palettes, and astonishing patterns like paisley, tie-dye, and psychedelics. The discotheques featured a mirrored and metallic look that very quickly made its way into homes and decor all over the country. Life in the '60s was all about self-expression and individualism, which led to the hippie movement. Influences from countries like India and Morocco supported this idea and appeared throughout homes as well. Furniture and decor were made from elements such as metal, wood, glass, and PVC. Open shelves, shag rugs, exotic patterns, and posters were almost guaranteed to be found in every American home. Lighting fixtures followed the 50's trend of outlandish styles, such as cats, roosters, and mushrooms, with the newly introduced lava lamps as well. Entertainment and fun were the focal points of the decade, which led to new colors, new patterns, new technology, new ideas, and a lot of experimentation. If you look in just about any room today, you will find at least one feature that was influenced by the 1960s.

  • Bright colors, open shelves and shag carpet in a 1960's living room

  • Hippie-inspired 1960's room with dark wood

  • Discotheque-inspired 1960's bathroom

  • 1960's room with open shelving, shag carpet and music posters

  • 1960's office with metal accents

  • Discotheque-inspired 1960's bathroom

  • 1960's kitchen with bright colors and wood cabinets

  • 1960's room with Scandinavian furniture


Following the culturally defining decade of the '60s, the 1970s were a time when people chilled out - literally. Bright colors, technicolor, and geometrics were still present; however, earth tone colors, terracotta, and plants were the main home trends of the decade. The hippie movement adapted into the back-to-nature movement in the '70s, especially after the oil crisis of 1973. The '70s could be described as a time of contradiction - featuring bright psychedelics and drab earth tones, high-tech futurism, and nature-loving hippies. The use of wood, specifically pine and teak, spread throughout homes, with the increase in futuristic plastics and metals. Indoor gardens and urban oasis became the focal point of every house with the rising popularity of houseplants. Large windows, glass blocks, skylights in ceilings, and large french doors allowed for homes to have more natural light than ever before. Lighting fixtures parallelled this trend, with an equal balance of emphasizing the natural light and embracing the futuristic materials and shapes as well. Colors remained vibrant but with an additional touch of earthy tones such as green, orange, bright yellow, and more orange. In the '70s, you could find rooms with one color that spanned from the floor to the ceiling and every inch in between. In many ways, the 70's introduced the open plan living concept with ceilings that reach to the top of the second floor, grand entryways, and very few diving walls. Sunken living rooms, home offices, kitchen islands, and breakfast nooks all made an appearance in these years. Some key design features of the decade are macrame, spider plants, shag toilet seat covers, terracotta, exposed beams, wicker furniture, avocado green appliances, and skylights. Although the 1970s were a contradicting time in design and trends, it had a considerable contribution to furniture design, architecture, and decorating as the country moved forward.

  • 1970's kitchen with indoor garden

  • 1970's kitchen with earth-tone colors

  • 1970's room with a ceiling that reaches to the second floor

  • 1970's living room with green walls, shag carpet and wicker furniture


Many people shrug and wince when they think about design in the '80s, but it can be argued that this decade is the last one of pure creativity and originality. From the fussy prints, geometric colors, and pastel everything, many things of this time influenced homes and design. In the 1980s, there was the introduction of the personal computer, CDs, and the DeLorean. Pop music topped all of the charts with stars such as Michael Jackson and Madonna. Star Wars, Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, and Top Gun were among the successful movies of the decade. Pac-Man was released, and music videos premiered for the first time on MTV. These pop culture elements of music, movies, and fashion influenced aspects all throughout the decade and those following. In the 1980s, the design was split between modern playful and feminine conservative. In modern homes, you could find glass furniture, geometric shapes, art deco, and pop art, as well as the beginning of what is now known as 'Memphis Design.' In the feminine-conservative style homes, you could find pastels, mauve, florals, and more pastels. Seafoam green and mauve-peach were the perfect pair, and dried flowers to top it all off. Plants, flowers, southwestern paintings, and CD cases were likely found in any home. Lighting fixtures mimicked the art deco style of the Memphis design and also featured a lot of glass from bases to shades. Chrome, brass, and glass made lights a statement throughout homes. Life in the '80s was more fun and light-hearted than decades previously, and that is what influenced the culture, music, and fashion.

  • 1980's living room with a mix of prints and patterns

  • 1980's living room with pastel color palette

  • 1980's room with dried flowers

  • 1980's living room with a mix of geometric patterns

  • 1980's bathroom influenced by Memphis-Design

  • Memphis-style 1980's house

  • Open-concept 1980's house with white wicker furniture


At the dawn of Generation X and the World Wide Web came the historic decade of the nineties. From the all-too-familiar sounds of turning on a computer, putting in a 20th Century Fox VHS tape, and Bill Clinton saying, "I didn't do it," the 1990s sounded and looked different than any other decade thus far. DJ and Stephanie's bedroom from Full House was the epitome of a 90's house, from the primary colors to the posters on the wall and the transparent house phone. DIY became trendy, and most housewives decided to vamp up their homes by sponge-painting walls and furniture and to repurpose old items. Window treatments were large and in charge, which then made its way to canopy beds and elaborate shower curtains. Wicker furniture, which was most likely painted white, replaced the remaining laminate and plastic that could be found. Along with furniture, appliances and countertops were all turning white as well. People mixed patterns, which usually included some sort of animal print and something geometric. Track lighting was introduced and very quickly implemented into every room in the house, whether it belonged or not. Some other notable features of the 1990s include silk plants, fake fruit, arched windows, inflatable furniture, neon signs, crystal stones, and blond wood. Lighting fixtures were chrome and primary-colored, from futuristic to geometric. They often featured large-print patterns and elements of nature, given the title of 'shabby chic.' People wanted their houses to be low maintenance and keeping up with the trends of pop-culture, which led the 90's to be full of peace, prosperity, and the internet.

  • 1990's living room with primary color palette

  • 1990's dining room with blonde wood

  • 1990's bathroom with silk plants and chrome finishes

  • 1990's living room with blonde wood and a television as the focus

  • 1990's kitchen with white painted wood

  • 1990's bathroom with chrome finishes and glass cube wall


Looking back not too long ago, the first decade of this new century may not feel like a pivotal time for design and style. The transition from bright and bold in the '90s to beige and brown everything in the 2000s makes us wonder what went wrong. There were a few factors that influenced this huge change - the biggest was television. From the late '80s to the late '00s, home sales grew dramatically to keep up with the Clinton Administration mortgage reforms. In 1999 is when HGTV released the overnight sensation House Hunters, which focused on the buying and selling process of homes. It emphasized the elements in a home that can be updated or renovated to become more appealing to buyers. This included crown molding, granite countertops, wood floors, and neutral paint colors. By making these changes in a house, the buyer could easily envision what they would do with essentially a blank canvas to make the home their own. Eventually, homeowners all over decided to start making these luxury changes because the television told them that they were making money on their houses. Dark wood, large entertainment centers, brown leather furniture, sleigh beds, and beige walls were among the looks of the early 2000s. Lighting fixtures and appliances toned down from the previous decade as well, mostly being silver and oil-rubbed bronze with glass features. Fashion and home decor trends in this decade showed America the effects that television and the internet actually have on people's decision-making process.

  • 2000's bedroom with sleigh bed and beige colors

  • 2000's bathroom with dark wood

  • 2000's living room with leather furniture

  • 2000's dining room with statement lighting fixtures

  • 2000's entryway with beige color palette


Although we are not far removed from the decade that just concluded, there are a few trends that we noticed among homes and decor that were different (and even brought back) from decades prior. The past ten years brought Marie Kondo, Chip and Joanna Gaines, and a rebirth of trends that had since become "no longer trendy." Beige and brown transitioned to shades of grey and white minimalism. The Farmhouse style brought about white kitchens, exposed brick, and shiplap accent walls. Matte black, rose gold, and bronze were used to add a balance to the white rooms and walls. The Modern Farmhouse style brought a "fixer-upper" mindset to repurpose old furniture and features. Mid-century Modern allowed the excitement of the space-aged-sixties to come back in forms of furniture and lighting fixtures. The industrial style went mainstream in the middle 2010s featuring exposed ceilings, concrete floors, and exposed lightbulbs, allowing an appreciation for the history of the house to be emphasized. House plants, wicker furniture, and bold botanical-print wallpapers in these latter years of the decade brought back the eclectic energy of the 1970s. Some other honorable mentions of the 2010s include cube storage units, gallery walls, smart home technology, ombre, and chevron. Some trends came and went quickly, and some others seem to be here to stay for a while, but nonetheless, this past decade was pivotal by bringing design and color back into homes from the bleak 2000s.

  • Open-concept 2010's kitchen in shades of grey 

  • 2010's bedroom with statement pattern and lighting fixture

  • White 2010's kitchen

  • White 2010's kitchen

  • 2010's dining room with statement colors and lighting fixture

  • Bright 2010's room with statement colors

What to expect in the 2020s

As we turn the page into a new decade, we aren't sure what technology, science, and design will bring. However, by looking back at past decades and how home design has transitioned over time, we can make a guess on what we may be able to expect in these next ten years. In the latter years of the 2010s, America experienced a handful of events that peaked in an increase of environmentalism. People are becoming more aware of how materials and elements affect the environment and are choosing to "go green" in an effort to protect it. We can expect to see more environmentally-friendly elements in homes such as repurposed furniture, more solar-powered items, and (hopefully) a decline in plastics. Colors are also starting to come back into homes to contrast the trend of white and grey. Brightly colored accent pieces, from furniture to walls, will soon turn into brightly colored rooms with accents of white and grey. Minimalism is still being perfected as Americans fight with the "less-is-more" mindset. Also, in the past two years, we have noticed that the glamorous and luxurious era of the 1920s is starting to make a comeback. As the country continues to grow and prosper, so will home designs. We are so excited to see what this next decade will actually bring us!

  • Bright pops of color with 1970's wicker furniture

  • Wicker furniture and indoor plants

  • Statement walls with bright colors and patterns

  • Brightly-colored features in kitchens