In January 2018, The Glam Pad launched a month-long series focusing on “anti-trends” for the year. “With the advent of Instagram, today’s trends seem to churn and burn at a lightning fast pace, leaving you with a house that is out of style almost as quickly as you can get it decorated. This sets in motion a very expensive cycle for the consumer that can be avoided simply by following timeless, classic design principles that will last a lifetime,” I wrote. At the time, I realized that I had fallen into the trap of chasing trends, and I was beginning to gravitate back towards what I had grown up with during the chintz-filled days of English Country Style and fine antiques, à la Mario Buatta. After decades of being inundated with minimalist, grey/beige and “modern” by the design magazines – shaming us into “chucking the chintz” and giving away our “brown furniture” — the pendulum was starting to swing back towards traditional design. Then in 2019, Emma Bazilian of House Beautiful coined the term “Grandmillennial” — a welcome update to the unfortunate term “Granny Chic” — as our passions for the classics our grandmothers and mothers loved regained the appreciation they deserved.
Furthermore, the present global pandemic has deeply changed our lifestyles, forcing us to remain home and rethink our priorities. This has added fuel to the Grandmillennial fire, creating more of a desire than ever to return to the “old fashioned” comforts and niceties we grew up with. Now that the design world is celebrating traditional interiors again, Lacelliese and I decided to outline our predictions for “anti-trends” in 2021!
1. GRANDMILLENNIAL STYLE: This includes chintz, brown furniture, fine antiques, and a generous helping of ruffles and bows… think all things Mario Buatta. After the passing of the “Prince of Chintz,” Sotheby’s held a two-day auction of his treasure trove of possessions in January 2020, generating a sensation dubbed “Buattacon” with bidding so fierce it was referred to as a “blood sport” by Christopher Spitzmiller. It was clear — Mario’s whimsical and timeless style was back, ushered in largely by the Millennial generation.
2. WALLPAPER AND CURTAINS: During the 2000s- 2010s, wallpaper was a dirty word. So much so that it put many of the wallpaper installers out of business. Fast forward to today and the ones who remain are now so highly sought after that you will likely have to get on a waiting list! Wallpaper is back, and in particular, hand-painted Chinoiserie panels such as Gracie. (Side note: We recently installed Gracie wallpaper in our dining room, and I will be sharing the experience soon!)
3. COLOR: Decades of grey, beige, and greige left us feeling cold and drab. Fortunately, cheerful color is back in a big way! Bold colors in paint selections, wallpapers, furniture, fabrics, and art are a welcome feast for the eyes. Again, think Mario Buatta and his bright and playful palette.
4. TOILE: The French favorite dating back to the 18th century, and another casualty of the late 2010s, toile is finally inching its way back into our homes. From The Glam Pad’s favorite Bird & Thistle pattern to a lovely selection of spring dresses, we are delighted to see toile making a comeback.
5. WICKER AND RATTAN: Another staple of the Grandmillennial set… In the fall of 2020, Rizzoli released a fabulous new book, Rattan: A World of Elegance and Charm. It states, “Although rattan’s popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years, it retains a certain allure that few other materials posses. Immediately evocative of warmth, relaxation and laid-back elegance, rattan is associated with exotic travel and the glamorous lifestyles of Diana Vreeland’s ‘beautiful people,” imbuing it with great romance…. Tastemakers such as Marella Agnelli and Bunny Mellon, both of whom were devoted to wicker, understood its value as a counterbalance to fine art and antiques…” We couldn’t agree more!
6. STERLING SILVER: When I was growing up, my Nana gifted my cousins and me silver flatware from our family pattern for birthdays and Christmas. And for many brides, it was a rite of passage to select a cherished silver pattern for their registries. Sadly, silver was also neglected for years, deemed too “high maintenance” and pushed aside for bamboo flatware, goldware, etc. Grandmothers and mothers bemoaned that their heirs didn’t want their silver… and you can still purchase it for a fraction of the original cost on eBay. But thanks to the Grandmillennial generation, we are slowly seeing a return to silver, especially when creating beautiful tablescapes which has become an art form within this group. And it’s not just Grandmillennials who have taken to the tablecloth: at the time of writing, the hashtag “tablescape” on Instagram yielded over 1.3 million results!
7. TABLESCAPES AND HOME ENTERTAINING: Once we make it past Covid, we predict a major surge in home entertaining. As we have been cooped up for nearly a year, many of us have found respite in cooking and setting lovely tables for our families. Over the last few years, a handful of companies founded by Grandmillennials have tapped into the tablescape marketplace, providing beautiful linens, tips, inspiration, rentals and one-stop-shops for everything needed to create a beautiful table. Companies include India Amory, Mrs. Alice (by Alice Naylor-Leyland), Gatopard Linens and Decor, Fete Home, Freshly Set, and The Avenue by Lyndsey Zorich.
8. HOME OFFICES: Covid has completely transformed the way the world works. According to research by McKinsey & Company, estimates suggest that by early April 2020, 62 percent of employed Americans worked at home due to the crisis, compared with about 25 percent a couple of years ago. Many employees enjoy the greater flexibility in balancing their personal and professional lives. Eighty percent report that they enjoy working from home, and 41 percent say that they are more productive than they had been before. As corporations look to reduce overhead and real-estate costs, working from home is here to stay. For tips on how to create the perfect home office or working environment, Holly Holden (a leading expert on all things classic, traditional, and timeless) has created a wonderful primer here.
9. NEEDLEPOINT: While needlework has long been a hobby passed down through generations, in our personal experience, many of our parents’ generation had set down their canvases while raising children, and had moved on to other hobbies well before the advent of the grandparenting years. While needlepoint might nearly have skipped a generation, this “old fashioned” past-time was ushered back in a few years ago, thanks largely to the Grandmillennial visionary, Jessica Chaney Meyers, founder of Lycette in Palm Beach. Needlepoint has regained its status as a favored hobby, with chic and cheeky canvases flying off the shelves. Due to Covid, we have had plenty of time for nesting at home, and the popularity of needlepoint has exploded as a therapeutic diversion.
10. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY: Remember the days of multiple roommates, shared refrigerators, and the sound of a pack of IKEA hardware scattering in every direction across the floor? (You never did find that last screw, so the bookshelf always had a bit of a leftwards lean.) “COLLEGE!” While we hold fond memories of those days that were often marked by mass-produced furniture, that sofa (and the coffee table, and the left-leaning bookshelf) simply did not withstand the test of time, much less a move across the country. And while usually perfectly appropriate for its intended purpose, the severity of utilitarian design can actually make a room feel inexplicably lonely—a feeling all too familiar these days, especially without five roomies. With the recently renewed interest in brown furniture, restored antiques with longevity and heirloom value are now offered by companies such as The CEH, Blue Print, and others who might have gotten their start by way of Etsy or Instagram. Investing in beautiful pieces that will age well has become a focus of leading Grandmillennial designers and their protégés. (And while the argument arises that the affordability and accessibility of mass-produced furnishings are paramount, one need only take a quick scroll through Facebook Marketplace or a visit to the local antiques mall to find pieces that are as attainably-priced and superior in construction.)
11. BIGGER DOESN’T MEAN BETTER: It may be wishful thinking, but I believe we are starting to see the end of the McMansion. More and more, the millennial generation seems to be realizing the importance of home preservation and restoration. This may mean a smaller home, but it also means more charm and character – two critical ingredients for Grandmillennial style. I’m also seeing fewer of the Big-White-Boxes being constructed. Let’s face it… chintz curtains and gallery walls of antique dog paintings just don’t work in a stark white house with wall-to-wall glass!
12. COMFORT: One of the reasons English Country Style has resurged in popularity is because it notoriously emphasizes comfort, a necessity we are all desperately seeking in our homes these days. A true English country home has most likely been passed down throughout the family for centuries, and they boast layers of timeless furniture and treasures that have been collected over the years. Cheerful florals, well-loved furnishings, stacks of books, family portraits, and a cozy fire are all hallmarks of English Country Style. Patina is valued over perfection, proving that the decor has stood the test of time. “Good decorating should only be redone because you want to, not because it looks dated and you have to,” said Alex Papachristidis. “Always changing things is an American sensibility, not a European one.”
13. COLLECTIONS: Grandmillennials love collections, and no one incorporated or loved collections more than the master – Mario Buatta. Antique porcelain, Rose Famille, Limoges boxes, Herend figurines, Staffordshire figurines, porcelain flowers and vegetables, sterling silver Christmas ornaments are all popular collectables. Antique, heirloom, or new, our collections help tell the story of our lives and fill our cozy nests with cherished memories.
14. CHARM BRACELETS: If you are noticing a pattern, sentimental and nostalgic objects that offer a trip down memory lane are very popular right now, and the same holds true for charm bracelets which reached their peak of popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. Jackie Kennedy, Mamie Eisenhower, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, and Natalie Wood all loved their charm bracelets. Modern day Grandmillennials and tastemakers such as Aerin Lauder, Molly Moorkamp, Jessica Chaney Meyers, Alli Eagan, and SueSue & Babs from Sophistication is Overrated are bringing them back into the forefront. “Charm bracelets have always been a way to tell a very personal story through jewelry, and I think people are clinging to that more than ever,” said Lisa Feldkamp, founder of Charmco. My Nana started my charm bracelet when I was 5 years old, and it is one of my most prized possessions. If you are looking to begin a charm bracelet or add to your collection, we recommend Charmco… more on them soon!
15. DAY DRESS STYLE: During the pandemic, a funny thing happened… Instead of yoga pants, pretty day dresses – reminiscent of Laura Ashley circa 1990 – started popping up all over Instagram! Paula Sutton of Hill House Vintage is known for wearing beautiful day dresses – including while gardening! – and Nicola Bathie McLaughlin is a modern fairy tale princess in her confectionary frocks, chasing her precious children around the garden.
By April, when we had nowhere left to go in the pretty day dresses, we woke up in the full-blow era of the “Nap Dress,” or as The Wall Street Journal describes it, “an unassuming, nightie-like garment.” While Hill House Home’s Nap Dress (and Sleeper’s similar style) has rapidly evolved far beyond this ethereal description to include non-see-through versions in heavier fabrics, I (Lacelliese) distinctly remember my thoughts when the Nap Dress popped up in my feed: people were taking naps in the middle of the day and looking beautifully unflapped while doing it. What had I been missing? The Journal writes that Hill House Home’s founder Nell Diamond “considers the Nap Dress’s name a bit of a misnomer. ‘It’s so funny because it’s in many ways the opposite of that—it’s a dress for getting stuff done,’ she said.” The appeal for comfort and elegance was exactly what we needed during a moment that felt so uncomfortable and anything but elegant. We predict that the Nap Dress is here to stay for a while longer, and that the pretty day dress, cocktail frocks, and gowns will return with a true vengeance when we are at last able to leave home with panache once again!
In summary, we have experienced a pendulum swing back to our traditional roots. So much of this can be attributed to an uncertain economy, political unrest, and of course, the global pandemic. During times of crisis, we tend to seek that which is familiar and comforting, and for many of us, that comes from the warm and happy style seen during the 1980s through the early 2000s. But like all design movements, it begs the question: is Grandmillennial style in itself just a trend? Only time will tell! Fortunately, it is based on tried-and-true classic design principles, so even if it is no longer the hottest ticket in town, it will never go out of style.