A while a back we had some serious fun building a list of the major design and decorating trends of the 1990s. Now — let’s do it for the 1980s, before we forget. Okay, even if we want to forget. My memory on this one is pretty sparse — in the 1980s I was focused on building a career and finding a mate (not necessarily in that order). So I need your help: What did “everyone” want to put in their houses in the 1980s?
I think I can remember a few things, but help me, should these really make the list?:
- Disco influenced decor — Lots of chrome, gray and black. My husband and I once rented a fancy 1986 house, an early McMansion (smaller than 1990s McMansions, but well on the way.) It had black lacquer wallpaper… gray plush carpet with insets of white and a darker gray… black laminate kitchen cabinets… and the powder room had a mirrored ceiling.
- Polished brass — on plumbing fixtures, as insets in furniture pieces. And was there a lot of lacquer on furniture, too?
- Southwestern — I remember this in textiles — bed sheets and comforters, to be exact. What do you think?
- Corian — First days of Corian?
- Colors: Emerald green… Peach… Purples… Teals. Think: Alexander Julian, the menswear designer; those colors, but on upholstery and towels and carpet, too. Go watch some episodes of Moonlighting
- Navajo White paint on the walls. Yes, I used this color on all the walls in the house I bought around 1986.
- The term ‘yuppie’ seems to have entered common use in 1983. As I recall, yuppies revived bare wood floors – stained natural… bare brick walls… what else, when it comes to decor in the 1980s?
- The Preppy Handbook was written in 1980. Trivia: I had dinner with Lisa Birnbach once. The Wikipedia page says this book influenced clothiers L.L. Bean and J. Crew. But what, if anything, did it do to influence interiors? Same as above for yuppies… or what? Ducks? Were ducks a 1980s thing?
- Fern bars. OMG: TGIFridays! That’s one of the place we went looking for mates…. Again, though: Did fern bars influence home decor?
- Memphis design — Ettorre Sottsass and friends try to break the old mold and create a new one. But it doesn’t last long.
- White melamine kitchen cabinets with integrated blond oak handles. Like this kitchen, before it was remodeled.
- What about Provence style kitchens? 1980s or 1990s? I recall this story I did calling this a 1980s kitchen.
Okay. That should get us started. The big trends? In kitchens? Bathroom? Decorating in general? Let the contributions flow! P.S. I have started wearing a pullover sweater I bought around 1985, again. It’s purple with black flecks, kinda Memphis now that I think about it. And it’s long — like the kind you would wear over black stirrup pants ala Cathy. Good times.
Above: Kate — and little brother Pat shown above — grew up in a 1981 ranch house. The kitchen had all harvest gold appliances (dishwasher, refrigerator, stove), butcher block laminate counter tops, sheet linoleum flooring, dark wood cabinets and trim, and grass cloth-like wallpaper. Photo courtesy of Kate’s Mom.