Grab your grandmother's China and some floral wallpaper: This throwback aesthetic offers pure nostalgia.

Trends are cyclical, and even fads you never thought you'd see again (read: fanny packs) often resurface decades later. One design aesthetic you probably didn't expect to come back in style: your grandmother's living room.

This twist on traditional, originally dubbed grandmillennial style by House Beautiful, is the antidote to the mid-century modern interiors and minimalist, all-white spaces that have dominated our Instagram feeds for years now. "Each generation rebels against the one previous, so the millennials who are now furnishing homes are rebelling against their parents and their style," says interior designer Kevin Isbell. "Raised during the mass market furniture explosion, they are rebelling against the monochromatic catalog looks that they were raised with and are looking to earlier generations for inspiration."

blue red decorated living room furniture and art
Credit: Annie Schlechter

With big doses of pattern and texture, the granny-chic look reflects twenty- and thirty-somethings' desire for a space that shows off their individuality. "This generation isn't afraid to mix in brown wood furniture or their grandmother's China to add personality and uniqueness to their homes—and their Instagram feed," Isbell says.

But these aren't exactly the stuffy, formal rooms you might remember from childhood. This updated take on traditional style adopts old-school design trends (think: skirted tables, patterned upholstery, floral wallpaper, and richly stained wood furniture) with a fresh spin for the 21st century. By mixing in a few modern elements, the style is nostalgic and comfortable without looking kitschy.

Pattern is paramount in grandmillennial designs, with classic prints like toile, chintz, and plaid featuring heavily on curtains, upholstery, and wall coverings. Embellishments like ruffles, pleats, and fringe are also seeing a resurgence. Heirloom furniture crafted from dark stained woods like walnut and cherry brings a sense of history to these rooms, while abstract art or metallic accents help freshen and modernize the look.

"At the heart of this trending design style that falls halfway between minimalism and maximalism is a sense of juxtaposition," says interior designer Stefani Stein. "The style incorporates traditional details on upholstery and cushions such as tape, trim, or tassels, in monochromatic or analogous color combinations." Stein suggests choosing an earthy color palette of saturated hues for an organic, casual feel.

Vanity and floral wallpaper
Credit: Sarah Dorio

A well-edited design is key to pulling off the grandmillennial look in a way that's more timeless than antiquated. Be selective as you accessorize to avoid an overly cluttered look. Choose fabrics in bold patterns, but keep the color palette tight and consistent so the look is layered and cozy, not chaotic. Above all, decorate with what you love.

"I think this style is so successful because it's just so fun and full of personality," says interior designer Nancy Charbonneau. "It liberates you to make design choices and create a space that is anything but sterile and cookie-cutter. This grand style encourages you to be different, and I think, especially today, that speaks to a lot of people."

Comments (3)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
March 9, 2020
This has always been my style. The newer furniture is just not as well made, and these great pieces have actual CHARACTER. I inherited a house full of it, and every time I polish my mother's wood furniture, it seems to take on an even better glow. I am gradually eliminating some of the many "Dust Collectors" and simplifying, as the article stated. Getting rid of the carpeting, and adding a few walls with wallpaper are definitely on my list as well.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
March 8, 2020
I love it! I want it! Exciting and fresh! Great colors- the storm trooper with lipstick is perfect!!
Better Homes & Gardens Member
February 26, 2020
Finally! A return to classic and classy, warm and welcoming, mentally and physically comfortable rooms. And since auction houses like the one I work for are now selling the estates of us "boomers" some very fine furniture can be had for very good prices. So many US furniture companies have closed in recent years due to "on line trendy" decor, it is heartening to see something of a return to what used to be called "Classic Good Taste"