Afraid your grandmillennial interior will look more like Dolores Umbridge’s office than a hipster haven? We got you. We spoke with Machado-Rosas and top Houston real estate agent and grandmillennial-fan Cindy Boutwell for tips to pull off this emerging design trend. Here’s how to achieve the perfect balance of gran and millennial elements.
1. Scour estate sales for antique signature pieces and accessories
While you’re at it, hit local thrift stores and antique sales. You’ll need to dig to find authentic pieces if your gran isn’t keen on parting with her French velour settee. Not to mention, you’ll feel amazing knowing you’ve decorated sustainably by buying secondhand.
Look for dark wood period furniture, including a Chippendale secretary desk and vintage accessories like bronze candle sconces. You can also find vintage-inspired pieces online thanks to the return of mid century modern design. Boutwell suggests incorporating a bamboo bar cart for a douse of retro flair.
2. Show off your sass with quips by needlepoint
In lieu of delicate floral embroidery, opt for sarcastic remarks in needlepoint. Etsy sellers peddle cheeky sayings cleverly disguised as benign embroidered throw pillows and wall art. Stitched sassiness comes in rebellious commands like“come back with a warrant,” and rap lyrics accented by images of roses and brass knuckles.
3. Mix and match patterns — just don’t go crazy
Grandmillennial style embraces floral and other whimsical patterns. But a word to the wise: Machado-Rosas warns that combining multiple patterns leans toward visual heaviness. To prevent visual overload, select patterns with a similar design and color. Repeated elements bring cohesion and serenity to your space.
4. Roll out the floral wallpaper
With its return to popularity, wallpaper’s wide range of styles and colors provide endless opportunities to personalize your grandmillennial space. A wistful botanical pink wallpaper or scenic green toile wallpaper could serve as the perfect backdrop for your dreamy decor. Or lean into your dark side with a traditional palette with a bold Victorian floral design.
Opt for removable wallpaper in case you grow out of the look or decide to sell your home in a few years. Boutwell notes that while wallpaper is back, it isn’t a mainstream style for homebuyers. And she’d know — her sales team closes more than $22 million in transactions each year in Houston. For a more subtle look, try adding wallpaper to the back of a bookshelf instead of wrapping an entire room in hydrangea and rose wallpaper.
5. Liven up a room with greenery inspired by traditional French gardens
No grandmillennial motif is complete without greenery from your garden (or Michaels). Finish a corner with a French-inspired boxwood topiary. Place a preserved plant on your tchotchke shelf or atop a stack of coffee table books. And for those special occasions, fill a fluted vase with blooming hydrangeas and peonies.
6. Showcase grandmother’s crystal and fine china
Pull those storage boxes down from the attic and dust off bygone-era collectibles and quirky thrift shop finds. Grandmillennialism demands these treasures receive VIP treatment with a front-and-center display. While a china cabinet is ideal to house inherited treasures and your burgeoning Lladró collection, wall shelving and wire racks also do the trick. To avoid a cluttered look, group similar items together.
7. Customize your color palette
With a style as eclectic as grandmillennial, any color palette goes: soft pastels, rich jeweled tones, and even vibrant hues are fair game. “I don’t think that there is a particular color mix,” comments Machado-Rosas when discussing granny chic color trends. “[It’s] just a matter of what you like.”
Boutwell has employed a wide range of color schemes for her clients’ grandmillennial designs. In one home, she paired emerald green upholstery with pink accent pillows. In another memorable design, she brought in blues and whites (mimicking traditional porcelain) to offset a dark brown couch.
If you’re still attached to neutral gray-and-white palettes, you can take a more monochromatic approach to the trend. “Everybody has a different level of how they can take color,” adds Machado-Rosas. “Some people would rather stay softer … some are a little bit bolder and can take the vibrant colors.”
8. Don’t overwhelm the room
“Be careful about oversaturating the style,” warns Machado-Rosas. While mixing multiple patterns is a hallmark of the granny-chic look, overuse could date your interior sooner than you’d like. You don’t need to add decor to every shelf and surface — blank space balances a detailed design. It’s also essential to mix in modern elements to maintain a youthful look.
9. Be mindful of clutter
You don’t have to Marie Kondo your entire house because, let’s be honest, all of your granny-chic tchotchkes bring you joy. Just remember that even an intentionally busy aesthetic can stray into hoarder territory if overdone. Scale back on groupings of tiny accents, such as figurines, in favor of a few larger decorative objects, such as vases or sculptures. If a stack of books on your side table could topple with the slightest nudge, pare it down to your three favorites. Or clear items from some flat surfaces, and leave sections of a coffee table or countertop bare.
Let your individuality shine with grandmillennialism
Like side bangs and baggy jeans, style trends come and go. Machado-Rosas recommends leaning into grandmillennial style with accents such as artwork and mirrors rather than overhauling your furniture sets. This way, you can easily (and affordably) swap out accessories as trends evolve. “I don’t think [the grandmillennial trend] is a timeless look,” she admits.
Boutwell, on the other hand, believes that the grandmillennial style may stick around for quite some time. “If done well, it’s very warm and inviting,” she says, noting that people are beginning to tire of gray and white palettes and are leaning toward more color.
Longevity aside, grandmillennial design is an exciting emerging style with its nostalgic aesthetic and celebration of personal expression. “Make it your own,” encourages Boutwell. “Go with what makes you comfortable and what you like.”
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