Here’s Why 1980s Interior Design Trends are Making Their Return in the 2020s
The experience of coming of age during the 1980s was completely over-the-top, from the design choices to the fashion trends to the MTV music revolution. During my teenage years, Laura Ashley was my style icon, and it was my dream to have my childhood bedroom decorated with blue and white floral bedding. Dynasty was my television escape, and I would stay up with my sister to eat frozen pizza at the coffee table as the luxurious homes transported us to another world. Valley Girl was my go-to movie with dream closets of bold colors and iconic preppy 80s style.
Over the past two decades, the interior design world has embraced the ideals of minimalism, clean lines, and neutral colors, leaving little room for the ostentatious decors of the 1980s filled with floral frills, decadent crystals, and neon nostalgia that defined my youth—until now. As we embark into the 2020s, 80s design is coming back in style. New reboots of Dynasty and Valley Girl are even in production! Let’s take a look at three forgotten 80s trends that are popular once again and three reasons why 80s decor is being embraced and celebrated.
3 Popular 80s Interior Design Trends Making a Comeback
While many of us were thrilled to leave behind the carpeted bathrooms, brass fixtures, and mauve wallpapers of the 80s, there is an appreciation to be found in many elements of 1980s interior design when examined from a design history standpoint. Looking back on the decade’s style with new eyes, I see that metallics and pinks pulled from the escapism of Art Deco while florals and stripes drew inspiration from Regency antiquity. The extravagance of 80s interior design was a reflection of the period, and it happens to be a time many of us would love to return. So, why not do so in our interiors? Here are three popular 80s design trends that are back in style.
The Antique Charm of Laura Ashley
The highlight of my life as a 14-year-old was visiting the Laura Ashley store at Austin’s Highland Mall. It was here that I would peruse the fabric patterns and debate with my sister over which floral print comforter was the “best.” Our first challenge in the interior design world was to find the one that most represented our unique styles and would define our teenage bedrooms. I fell in love with a small floral print in blue and white. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. That year, my mother surprised me with a bedroom makeover. I came home to find a white-painted wrought iron bed, new parquet floors, and an antique dresser. My Laura Ashley bedding set was front and center of the design, and there was even a wallpaper border to match! Today, the iconic floral prints Laura Ashley is known for are making a big comeback in home design. These classic bedding sets offer a feeling of comfort and spark the excitement many of us felt when decorating our rooms for the first time.
The Extravagance of Dynasty and Mario Buatta
The work of Mario Buatta was the extravagance of Dynasty brought to life. Known as the Prince of Chintz, Mario Buatta created decadent interiors filled with floral draperies, crystal, and lavish antiques during the 80s. I was lucky enough to meet some of the designers who worked with him first hand on famed rooms that exemplified the indulgence of the era. In a rejection of minimalism, Buatta curated everything from Regency antiques, 19th-century dog paintings, and $100,000 palm sculptures to fill over-the-top rooms that defined luxury and wealth. Creating extravagant spaces like these that also provide charm and character is challenging to pull off, as the scales can quickly tip into gaudy kitsch. I appreciate his complete embrace of maximalism and ability to take personal collections to the next level. Today, we are seeing a shift away from uniform and minimalist interiors, as people spend more time at home and strive for a unique display of who they really are.
The Bold Colors and Preppy Style of Valley Girls
It’s no secret that the fashion and interior design worlds influence each other. During the 1980s, some of the cool teen brands included striped Lacoste polos popularized by The Official Preppy Handbook, the bold color blocking of Esprit, and the iconic pastels of Camp Beverly Hills. Fashion choices like these filled the pages of magazines and came to life in movies like Valley Girl. These colors and patterns also showed up in 80s interior design through wallpapers, textiles, and paint colors. Today, homeowners want to take their interior spaces back to a time of fun. The simple gray and beige color palettes of the 2010s are now being updated with cool pastels like Millennial Pink, dramatic black and white color blocking, and punchy colors that are unexpected and make an impact.
Why is 2020s Interior Design Embracing the Aesthetic of the 1980s? Here are the Three Design Shifts Reigniting 80s Decor.
In the 2020s, we see a return to 1980s interior design trends, including cottage-chic Laura Ashley bedding, Buatta-level decadence, and an embrace of personalized color. Here are the top three reasons why 80s decor is coming back in style.
A Renewed Importance for Comfort
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the course of interior design and how we live at home in the new decade. A renewed appreciation of comfort is challenging the obsession with clean lines. We spend more time at home, and we all need a space to recharge. The comfort trend has sparked a surge in decorating to include delicate patterns, layering, and vintage charm, making Laura Ashley the perfect inspiration from which to draw. While not all of my clients are looking for an exact Laura Ashley look, many are looking to celebrate comfort, antiquity, and the soft edge relevant to current design trends.
A Rejection of Minimalism in Favor of Maximalism
A few short years ago, we were all “Marie Kondo-ing” our homes and clearing out heaps of clutter, collections, and heirlooms to make way for clear surfaces and negative space. Now, people realize that there is room in the home to nest and fill it with our collected narrative that showcases who we are. The ideals of Mario Buatta, king of maximalism and self-proclaimed “original hoarder,” resonate with many homeowners who want to celebrate their personal collection in over-the-top displays. Functionality now plays a supporting role to decadence.
A Longing for Nostalgia
Finally, one of the biggest reasons for a newfound appreciation of 80s interior design is a longing for a simpler time. New homeowners seek to recreate the comfort of the interiors that served as the backdrop to holidays spent unwrapping a Super Nintendo, prom photos on the staircase, and VHS movie nights. In a world of online shopping, streaming, and bombarding screens, who wouldn’t want to make a return to the neon-colored mall food court to sip an Orange Julius?
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.