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The 80s Are Back: Here’s How Designers Are Styling With 1980s Decor Influences

We have some exciting interior design news: The 80s are back! But don’t worry—only the good parts. Think: bold shapes, natural materials, and geometric patterns. (No waterbeds, ruffled bedding, rag-rolled walls, or wall-to-wall carpet in sight!)

When you think of 1980s interior design, your mind might be drawn to walls full of those 80s glass blocks, or perhaps Laura Ashley florals or piles of shabby chic ruffles. Or maybe you think of The Golden Girls and Blanche’s bedroom design in all its Miami Boho glory. Preppy style, pastels, chintz, and geometric designs reigned supreme in the 80s.

80s Design Styles and Trends

The 1980s was an interesting time in American history. The economy was booming, and there was a wave of wealth and “new money.” Technology was making significant advances. And traditional gender stereotypes were being seriously challenged—with major pop culture icons exploring androgynous looks and more women entering the corporate workforce in high-level positions than ever before. It was a decade of opulence, of change and upheaval. And out of all of these cultural shifts came a lot of iconic interior design trends.

Want to walk down memory lane? Here are some of the most popular 80s interior design trends that people love (and love to hate).

Memphis-Milano Movement

Memphis Design

When you think of 1980s design, what probably comes to mind is bright colors, bold shapes, squiggly lines, and funky furniture and decor. What you might not know is that there’s a name for this style: Memphis Design. This look was created by the Memphis Design Group, a group of designers in Milan, Italy in the early 1980s. Pushing back against the minimal, modern look that was popular in the late 70s and early 80s, they started creating bold, colorful, zany furniture and home decor designs. While the Memphis Design Group developed this aesthetic, it was the application of the style in pop culture that brought it to the popular consciousness. (Think: the Saved by the Bell set, the early MTV logo, and the design of Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

 

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Glass-Block Walls

You can’t talk about design trends from the 1980s without talking about glass-block walls. Sometimes used in place of traditional windows or shower walls, sometimes used on interior walls to let in more light, glass-block walls were all the rage in the 80s. They added both style and practicality to a home—the practical part being that they let natural light in without being totally see-through, and they’re more energy-efficient than the average window! They may seem like a dated design element to many people today, but in the late 2010s, glass-block walls actually started making a comeback in home and commercial properties!

 

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Tropical Prints and Plants Galore

The obsession with plants didn’t originate with millennials in the 2010s—it was happening way back in the 80s (and even before). In fact, iconic interior designer Dorathy Draper first created palm-print wallpaper and fabric while redecorating the Greenbrier hotel after WWII; though it wasn’t until the 80s that tropical prints became a major trend. But once they did, you could see them everywhere. Once of the most iconic examples in pop culture? Blanche Devereaux’s bedroom from Golden Girls.

And the obsession with plants went beyond wallpaper and upholstery prints. In the 1980s, houseplants had a major moment—faux plants, specifically. Not as quality as the faux plants of today, the styles from the 80s definitely looked fake—and collected a lot of dust. So today, this trend gets a pretty bad rap. But the spirit of the trend was all about bringing greenery (and probably a bit of happiness) into your home.

 

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Lucite Furniture

Art Deco design had a resurgence in the 80s—and part of that renewed popularity was a love for clear furniture. However, rather than the glass furniture of the 1920s, the 1980s take was full of Lucite furniture. Lucite and acrylic plastic were first developed in the 1920s and 30s, and they grew in popularity as a furniture material in the 60s and 70s. But it was in the 1980s that clear furniture really hit its peak in popularity thus far, with Lucite being the favored material. (Fun fact: Lucite is a brand name of acrylic plastic. So, all Lucite is acrylic, but not all acrylic is Lucite.)

 

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Pastels

Memphis design is one one end of the color spectrum when it comes to 1980s styles and trends—full of bright primary colors. However, on the other end of the spectrum was a love for pastels in the 80s. Pastel room design was a very popular move in the 80s, including shades of soft pinks and purples, as well as sea foam green. Sometimes you’d see small applications of pastel colors, and sometimes they overtook a whole room, top to bottom. The use of pastels showed up a lot in the next two trends we’ll show you.

 

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Floral Bedding and Curtains

In the 1980s, upholstery was all about florals. Whether it was bedding, sofa and chair upholstery, drapes, or accent decor, floral and chintz patterns were everywhere. Laura Ashley is a home decor and clothing brand that helped popularize this trend—but you didn’t have to have the name brand to embrace this trend. And it wasn’t just one application of florals in a room. Often, you’d have a room full of florals, from the drapes to the rugs, plus chintz wallpaper, lampshades, and furniture. But it didn’t stop there. In the 80s, ruffles often went hand-in-hand with floral patterns, making this trend even more over-the-top.

 

Shabby Chic Design

The floral trend showed up in big ways in Shabby Chic design. This design style, which originated in the 1980s, was all about embracing the type of decor you might find in an old English countryside manor. Naturally, that included a lot of florals. But it also involved classic design elements and rustic finishes. The result was an elegant, feminine style that had some frills but was also quite comfortable and inviting.

How To Get an 80s Decor Look Today

Trends come and go in cycles, and 80s-inspired design elements have been slowly coming back in vogue for a while now. And while we’re definitely seeing a love of chintz come back in the Grandmillenial design trend, we’re seeing 80s-inspired interior design trends come to life more in the way of furniture shapes and materials, geometric patterns, and 80s color palettes. And even in some 80s-inspired takes on Art Deco-inspired design elements (a 100-year-old style that made a comeback in the 80s and is back in style again today).

Want to get the 80s look? We tasked our designers to show us how they’re designing with an 80s influence. Keep reading for a few different ways they’ve used 1980s interior design elements to get the look!

1980s interior design

Minimal 80s

With this minimalist take on 1980s interior design, a select few sculptural statement pieces take center stage. This design is more about the shape, material, and texture of the furniture than applied ornament or decor. While there aren’t many pieces in the space, the negative space lets the forms and textures shine—making this look perfect for the Minimalist Maximalists out there. (And you could easily amp up the drama with a bold wall color.)

The terracotta color of the chairs create a statement, while an otherwise black-and-white color palette creates contrast in the space. The chairs’ curved, sculptural design with a velvet finish speak to both the mod and glam elements of 80s design. Marble was very big in the 80s, so the dining table, while sleek and modern in shape, fits in with that 80s vibe.

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1980s interior design

Colorful 80s

With a bold color palette, this look gives a nod to the ubiquitous Memphis style of the 80s. The 1980s really influenced the use of shapes in furniture and decor—and this bedroom drives home that idea. Here, we see round bulbs combined with a sculptural nightstand and curved bed. Basically, with less “stuff” in the room, the forms of the furniture and decor are the stars of the show.

The color palette speaks to the bold use of color throughout 1980s interior design, but in a format that was most seen in Memphis design. The art, with its bold colors and layered geometry, drives home that homage to 80s Memphis design.

Need help from a Miami interior designer for your home? Modsy designers are pros at finding expert design solutions for rooms of all styles and locations!

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1980s interior design

Chic 80s

This living room is a glam, chic take on 80s design. Inspired by 80s beach house contemporary style, this look is all about bold drama through shapes and statement pieces. The “puffy,” rounded furniture has a sculptural quality, with the velvet sofa and chair feeling contemporary but very bold. The polished stone finish of the sculptural coffee table balances out the softness of the sofa and chair, and it also plays off the geometry of the rug and artwork.

The high-contrast palette—with black, white, and blush sitting center stage—has a feminine-inspired feel. But the color palette alongside the furniture forms balances the masculine and feminine sides of Chic 80s style.

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1980s interior designEclectic 80s

This living room, with its eclectic mix of shapes and materials, brings the funkiness of boho style to an 80s aesthetic. Natural materials like cane and rattan were widely used in the 80s—and we’re seeing that natural materials trend come back to life today in a big way. Today’s use, however, is in a lighter, trendier way—but it still gives a big nod to 80s design. The natural materials in this space balance out the bold forms and geometry in the room, making it feel more casual and approachable than some of the other takes on 80s-inspired design. Meanwhile, the low, rounded sofa (which has a very 80s vibe) compliments the natural materials of the cane and rattan.

The bold shapes in the mirror and table lamp are a nod to the forms made popular in the 80s. The wall art also features a bold, geometric design that is reminiscent of the Memphis design patterns of the 80s.

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Contemporary 80s

This look brings in some 80s design influences, but in a much “safer” way. It mixes contemporary 80s style with today’s transitional style for a less in-your-face look. With a more subtle approach, it relies on a few pops of bold 80s design elements on a neutral foundation—making it very easy to switch up the look of this space over time.

The 80s-inspired design elements noticeably come through with the bulbous lamp, the Art Deco-inspired mirror, and the glam acrylic vase. The pastel-hued wood console, with its geometric knobs, really speaks to the contemporary 80s vibe. The color scheme, combined with the art sketch, brings to life the soft, feminine side of 80s-inspired design.

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Velvet Trend Spotlight: How to Design with this It Material

living room

Velvet is fast becoming something of a stronghold in interior design schemes all over the world. You’ve probably seen this fabric used in main pieces of furniture and decor in hotels, restaurants, living rooms, bedrooms and so much more!

And while it’s usually a material associated with glam style interiors, we’re seeing velvet break out of the box and make a name for itself across styles like modern, rustic, and even minimal. From sofas to ottomans to curtains to carpets, the velvet trend is here to stay.

sofaWhy We Love the Velvet Trend

Material as decoration is the theme behind many of our favorite trends, like natural materials, industrial light fixtures, and the re-emergence of natural marble, to name a few. And velvet fits the same bill!

Instead of adding more decorative accents to space, we’re seeing a shift towards embracing a more minimal approach to decor, which clears the way for materials to be the stars of the show.

This is great for anyone who recently Marie Kondo-ed their home or doesn’t want to add a lot more decorative pieces/clutter. Even if you’re not all about keeping up with the latest trends, velvet is one of those decor choices that will stand the test of time.

Where to Use Velvet

living roomSofas and Armchairs

If you want to hop on the velvet train, your main seating pieces are a great place to start. Statement seating is super popular in interiors right now, so go bold with a big velvet sofa or armchair!

We really love a matte velvet because it offers a sleeker, more elevated approach. But crushed velvet is also fun if you want to add extra drama and flair to a room. Velvet seating can also help create a super cozy vibe because it’s so tactile and makes for a snuggly place to cuddle up!

Stylist Tip: Balance out the glam side of velvet by incorporating natural materials like rustic woods, jute, rattan, or even woven wall hangings into your space. This will help add textural contrast and ground your velvets in a more neutral design scheme.

bedroomBed Frames and Headboards

Velvet in the bedroom, ooh la la! A velvet bed frame adds a luxe, plush feel to your private enclave. You can find options with just velvet upholstered headboards or opt for a fully upholstered frame. We love this scalloped option, which adds a lovely Art Deco vibe to space.

Velvet bed frames come in a range of styles, so you can find one that fits your bedroom perfectly. Pair it with more traditional or modern accents to keep the look feeling less glam and more eclectic or even traditional.

sofaPillows

If you want to incorporate the velvet trend into your design scheme without committing to a big furniture swap, consider adding velvet pillows into the mix! They add a lovely pop of texture and luxury to your living room or bedroom (or anywhere you have decorative pillows).

What’s more, throw pillows are inexpensive, which makes them an easy and low-risk way to dabble in this trend. If you already have throw pillows, you can even keep the inserts and just swap the covers.

painting

Stools and Ottomans

Another small but impactful way to add a pop of velvet to a room is with velvet stools, poufs, or ottomans. Stools are a big enough accent to get the velvet look but you don’t have to commit to a full piece of furniture.

They are also a functional and fun addition to any room, as they add a decorative element and can also be used as seating, footrests, or even storage, depending on the style you choose. Add a few stools to your living room, at the end of your bed, or even tuck a pair under a console table for a pop of the velvet trend in any room.

dining chairsDining Chairs

Dining chairs are an unexpected way to dabble in the velvet trend and they can add a major style moment to what is often an overlooked space. The look of velvet upholstery adds visual contrast and texture to your dining room. Plus, dining chairs come in a wide variety of styles so you can find one that looks great with a velvet touch!

But as with all upholstered dining chairs, keep in mind it’s not the most kid-friendly choice as it’s more difficult to clean if it encounters any messy fingers or spills.

benchesBenches

The final way we love adding velvet to our spaces is with an elegant bench! Similar to the stools, a bench is a fun way to add a substantial amount of velvet to your design but isn’t as great of a commitment as a bed or sofa.

Benches are also more portable so you have the flexibility of moving it from the entryway to your bedroom, or from the dining room to the living space if you want an easy way to change up your look.

Stylist tip: Pair a luxe velvet bench with a textured natural fiber storage piece, like this woven rattan wardrobe. The play between textures makes for a lovely contrast and creates a striking look in any space!

Bring the Velvet Trend Home

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