Embracing Grandmillennial Style? These 10 Vintage Finishes Are More Popular Than Ever

The next big thing in interior design and decor might be hiding in your grandparents’ closet right now. 

Design experts are predicting that “grandmillennial” style will become a major trend in 2020 and beyond. Grandmillennial design is all about adopting retro, vintage, and antique elements, combining them with modern flourishes, and creating an aesthetic that is totally new. 

As Better Homes & Gardens puts it, grandmillennial style manages to feel “nostalgic and comfortable” without looking “kitschy.” It’s also a way for homeowners to showcase their individuality, as interior designer Kevin Isbell explains to Better Homes

“Each generation rebels against the one previous, so the millennials who are now furnishing homes are rebelling against their parents and their style… Raised during the mass market furniture explosion, they are rebelling against the monochromatic catalog looks that they were raised with and are looking to earlier generations for inspiration.”

Often, this means turning to decor ideas and furniture pieces that have previously been classified as “stuffy” or “outdated,” as writer Emma Bazilian explains in House Beautiful. Bazilian and House Beautiful are widely credited with first identifying and naming the “grandmillenial” trend.

As Architectural Digest has noted, grandmillennial style is just one part of a growing wave that looks back at the design elements of previous eras, in order to embrace them as part of something fresh and modern. Designers are even incorporating Victorian-style home furnishings and bright, maximalist patterns and colors in homes here in Chicagoland and around the country. 

With all this emphasis on looking back, it’s no surprise that some vintage and antique furnishings and finishes are having a major moment moving forward. Here are 10 retro home decor elements that are seeing a boom in popularity right now. What catches your eye? 

1.) Stone, Pottery, and Wood

Clean and modern are out; patina and natural wear are in. 

“One of the emerging design trends is an appreciation of patina and age,” interior designer Breeze Giannasio explains in Good Housekeeping. This may mean embracing clay, terracotta, and ceramic decorative items, as well as antiques made from stone and wood, like vases and Grecian-style busts. 

2.) Wicker and Rattan Furniture

Wicker and rattan furniture have seen ebbs and flows in popularity throughout the decades. As we move into the ‘20s, these natural-looking, earthy materials are poised to see another big upswing. Wicker and rattan are warm and comfortable, and can fit seamlessly into almost any aesthetic. Plus, many young homebuyers have a nostalgic attachment to wicker chairs, tables, and lighting, which have all “evolved in fresh and exciting ways,” as Nicole Fuller explains in Elle Decor

3.) Bright Prints and Colors

Many of the biggest paint companies in the world predicted that bold, eclectic colors would get their time to shine in 2020. In particular, vintage tones evoking the sophisticated glamor of the 1920s are seeing a comeback. Meanwhile, designers are cooling on neutral, monochromatic spaces, which can read as cold and impersonal, rather than lived-in and welcoming. 

4.) Patterns Everywhere

Bold, dramatic patterns can add life and color to a space — and many people are embracing their energy with floral wallpaper, loud prints and upholstery, and other dramatic design flourishes that highlight “analogous color combinations” and “a sense of juxtaposition,” as designer Stefani Stein explains in Better Homes & Gardens.

“What could be more simple, yet incite more drama and style, than a room covered in the same print from floor to ceiling?” says Scott Meacham Wood in Elle Decor.

5.) Topiaries and Indoor Plants

Houseplants are a surefire way to bring a pop of color and a welcome dash of nature into your home. Rather than relying on faux houseplants, more and more people are turning to the real thing. That includes popular standbys like ferns, succulents, and cacti, as well as more old school additions like olive trees and boxwood topiaries. 

6.) Fringe, Ruffles, and Scallops

Want to live life on the fringes? Many grandmillennial enthusiasts embrace off-kilter fabrics and textures — and definitely see the fun in fringed edges, ruffled accents, and scalloped borders on everything from blankets, to rugs, to table clothes, to furniture coverings. For a truly vintage touch, you may even want to experiment with skirted tables, heavy wall tapestries, or bold statement curtains. 

7.) Victorian Furniture

Looking to bring a sense of real, lived history into your home? Better Homes & Gardens recommends embracing “heirloom furniture crafted from dark stained woods like walnut and cherry.” Meanwhile, design expert Bria Hammel tells Good Housekeeping that she has observed “more of a nod to vintage and traditional detailing” that calls to mind the 1800s, including “spooled legs” and “spindles.” 

8.) Canopy Beds

Speaking of Victorian-era furniture, canopy beds are “making a comeback,” as interior designer Abbe Fenimore tells Good Housekeeping. While still looking regal and impressive, canopy beds are increasingly moving toward modernity with clean lines and sleek, lightweight materials. 

9.) Pleated Lampshades

Time to turn off minimalist lighting, in favor of something a little more old school. Better Homes & Gardens calls out “pleated lampshades” as a popular grandmillennial design element. These retro-looking finishes are fun and funky; modern and fresh while deeply indebted to the not-so-distant past. 

10.) Ornate, Colorful Rugs

Retro rugs in bright colors? Yes, please. Antique rugs are in demand right now, as are rugs made of eclectic materials that would have felt right at home in a mid-century modern masterpiece. 

Looking for the Home That Suits Your Style?

Ready to start the search for a home that helps you showcase your one-of-a-kind ideas? Looking for a place that comes with lots of charm and Chicagoland history baked right in? 

At Baird & Warner, we get you. And our team of specialized, hyperlocal agents knows just what it takes to help you find the Chicagoland home you’ve been looking for. 

Whether your goal is a mid-century modern with a view, a high-rise in the heart of the city, or a classic Chicago-style bungalow, we can help you find your ideal Chicagoland home. And with mortgage and title services available in-house, we’ll make the dream of homeownership easier at every step of the way — from the day you start envisioning your next home, to the day you’re handed the keys.

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