Grandmillennial style is a phrase that’s been circulating since late 2019 but is seeing increasing popularity as 2021 interior design trends emerge. At its core is incorporating antiques, bold patterns and textures and embracing a sense of lived-in individuality within our homes.
My interior design and home renovation bucket list has always included owning a historic house. We recently purchased a home in Greensboro, North Carolina that was built in 1914, and, as we update it, I’m leaning more into grandmillennial style.
If you’ve followed design trends in the last decade, you’ve probably heard plenty of style terms: mid-century modern, minimalism, farmhouse, Scandinavian… the list goes on. Grandmillennial may be new to you, however, the aesthetic itself is anything but new.
The style is influenced by the decor and design sensibilities of our grandmothers, minus the doilies, dolls and oversized couches. It is the antithesis to modular, sleek furniture from brands like IKEA and strikes a balance between minimalism and maximalism, incorporating cultural trends like sustainability and adding a dash of eclectic decor.
The core components include floral prints — especially on a large scale, such as wallpapers and upholstery — traditional furniture silhouettes, colorful motifs, richly stained woods and ornamental accents balanced by more modern, youthful touches like abstract art and contemporary lighting.
In 2020, design preferences took a shift toward comfort, functionality and practicality in the face of our new stay-at-home reality. As we spent more time in our homes, we wanted them to reflect our own individual style.
With a variety of ways to incorporate, update, and modernize grandmillennial style, the aesthetic allows for a greater expression of personality. You can expect to see more family heirlooms and intentional pieces, along with thrifted antique furniture.
Personally, I love how this style makes me feel closer to my grandparents. Nana and Papa Bradshaw were from England, and they have always filled their home with unique antiques, floral motifs, Depression-era glass and beautiful dishes. I always felt most comfortable when I was at their home in Canada.
I have particularly strong memories of having a “cuppa,” which is English breakfast tea, twice a day, served in fine bone china mugs, as well as eating dinner on Nana’s beautiful plates. Instead of feeling stuffy, the house felt comfortable and cozy, and those special little details were my favorites.
When I posted an image of my casual dishware, Spode “Blue Italian,” my aunt commented that she thought it was the same design my nana had when she was a child. Then, when I shared a photo of my “dream tub” — a pastel pink vintage clawfoot tub — my mother’s childhood friend remarked that she thought my nana had a similar tub when they were kids. Apparently, I have my grandmother’s taste.
Additionally, I adore blue and white; I have an obsession with floral wallpaper; and I love mixing old and new furniture. It’s true that things are not made like they used to be, so this style fits my preferences perfectly. In decorating our historic home, we’ll be adding furniture and décor to retain the historic character of the home while updating it for our personal style.
Grandmillennial Interior Design Tips
Like most things in home decor and interior design, succeeding in style is all about balance. You need to strike the perfect balance between meaningful trinkets and kitschiness; antique and out-of-style; bold and overwhelming; and patterned and busy. A great way to get your feet wet is with an antique-inspired collection. Whether milk glass, floral plates or just a certain type of figurine, when you collect several of them and display them, the collection looks intentional and curated instead of cluttered.
If bold colors and patterns scare you, start with a more simplified color palette. While incorporating color is key – no more white and gray only – you don’t have to display the whole rainbow. The best part about grandmillennial style is that it is up to the individual. There’s no one right way, so make design choices that you absolutely love.
Still, outfitting your home in grandmillennial styled pieces isn’t as easy as clicking “add to cart.” It’s about carefully selecting meaningful and intentional pieces. First, consider what you have in your home, and maybe even dig through your family’s basement or attic. Keep an eye out for ornate mirrors and frames or an old dresser or side table that needs a bit of extra love to make it shine.
This style can also be a budget-friendly option, as you can incorporate flea market and Facebook Marketplace finds with your existing furniture and decor.
Overall, the essence of grandmillennial style is about honoring individual style, personality and a timeless aesthetic. Focus on what you love, find pieces that represent your unique history and layer different textures, patterns and colors to form a beautiful space.
By Jaime Huffman