NINETEEN EIGHTIES INTERIOR DESIGN
I recently finished watching the FX series The Americans. While the storyline and characters fascinate me, it’s the set design that’s got my attention. The show is set in the 1980s and I feel like it picked up where Mad Men left off, in reference to interior sets. I love taking a peek into the suburban homes, offices, and hotels all decked out in 80s gear. It inspired me to go on the hunt for some typical interior photos from the 1980s, and highlight how some of the designs can be reinterpreted for current use. Not an easy task, but a fun one.
Most designers are inspired by previous decades’ trends and styles. Somehow though the style of the 1980s often gets overlooked. When researching for this post, I came across a lot of “ugliest decade” headlines. Sure, some aspects are better left in the past, but there are a few things we can learn and even borrow from the 80s.
I like the clean boldness of this bathroom, and the stylist who decided that every accessory would be orange. Trash can, hairbrush, and towels…check! There are a few things that you can take home with you from this room. The subtle texture created by tiny tiles creates a nice backdrop for your tub or backsplash. Floating vanities aren’t anything new. Orange stripes are energizing to a space, and don’t forget to take risks in your interiors. Life is much more fun if you do.
I never realized how much of my memories of 80s interiors is derived from movies and television. I guess when you grow up in a small town without a subscription to Architectural Digest it’s your only source of inspiration. The Golden Girls is a goldmine of 1980’s décor inspiration. No wonder people today have a hard time mixing patterns; they grew up with matching banana leaf wallpaper, curtains, and coverlet. Like most design decades, the 80s borrowed from periods before and built upon it. The banana leaf pattern originated in the 40s, and is still super popular today. I found some current leaf incarnations that give a little nod to Blanche’s boudoir.
Subway tiles be gone, square is back. Simple white square tiles with black grout are a hit again but paired with furnishings and finishes that bring in warmth, like the brass bathroom fittings and portrait in the image above. Wood floors, natural stone, and generally less metal, plastic, and glass go a long way in make this style new again. Can’t commit to tile? Gridded pillows and rugs are an easy way to get your fix.
What’s the fascination of putting the same pattern on every surface? I’m sure at the time this much chintz was absolutely necessary, but thankfully things have changed. Still retaining it’s femininity, floral these days tend to be more casual and flowy than in its previous life and is used a little more sparingly. I prefer my flower motifs to be an accent in the room. I’m not opposed to floral wallpaper on all four walls, but everything else in the room must be dictated by this bold colorful pattern and act accordingly.
Ahh wicker, rattan, and cane…how the 80s embraced thee. I can't really endorse the painted white whicker furniture with chintz cushions beloved by the masses, but a more streamlined approach is more than appropriate. The chairs shown were not from the 1980s, but the decade embraced them as much as we do now. A true classic. If a Cesca chair isn’t in your budget, luckily this generation embraces knockoffs as well.