The worst interior design trends everyone was obsessed with the decade you were born, according to experts

‘Friends’/NBC via Getty ImagesMonica and Rachel’s apartment on ‘Friends’ had a lot going on.
  • Home décor has evolved immensely over the past century.
  • From the muted, monochromatic rooms of the 1930s to the explosion of florals in the 1980s, interior designers have seen a lot of trends come and go.
  • INSIDER turned to interior design experts Matthew Cane, president of Matthew Cane Designs, and Julie Sanders, senior editor at Home & Design Magazine, for their professional opininons on the worst design trends to come out of this century.
  • Take a look at the trends that hit big the decade you were born and that but experts agree should not come back.

In the 1930s there was a big monochromatic trend happening.

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Source: Old House Online

“In this period it was done in shiny finishes and wild, bizarre textures,” Matthew Cane, president of Matthew Cane Designs, told INSIDER.

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A big trend in the 1940s — and one of the worst — was the use of tin and colour-themed rooms, Cane told INSIDER.

William Grigsby/Conde Nast via Getty ImagesHouse and Garden 1948

Linoleum, which could be rolled out as a sheet to cover entire floors, were also popular in the 1940s. While versatile, the flooring also had a reputation for being cheap and makeshift.

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Source: “Comfortable, Durable, and Decorative: Linoleum’s Rise and Fall from Grace” by Pamela H. Simpson

In the 1950s wood became a big player in interior design, Cane said.

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He listed wall coverings like veneers and shiplap as some of the worst — yet most popular — choices of the time.

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Popcorn Ceilings originated in the 1960s. The visible texture was meant to both absorb excess noise and cover up seams and tape in the walls.


Source: Today Show, CBS 5 San Francisco

The rough design is historically made of chalk and some sort of wallboard compound. But, in some instances, it may have been made with asbestos.

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Source: CBS 5 San Francisco

Because of the possibility of asbestos — and the less than good-looking design — many people have started taking down their popcorn ceilings that were likely installed decades ago. While it was once all the rage, Cane says it’s got no place in the new millennium.

Source: Today Show

In 1968, the waterbed was introduced.

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Source: The Atlantic

And even though it’s undoubtedly fun to play on …

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… Cane said, “If I’m going to be floating on anything, it’s going to be on a raft in a pool or an ocean. I’ll save the seasickness for #never.”

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In 1968, round beds first appeared on the design scene. They lasted a few decades, but ultimately, Cane says he’s a little confused by the concept, which really doesn’t make logical sense: “I thought all humans were vertically aligned?”


Source: LA Times

Julie Sanders, senior editor at Home & Design Magazine, told INSIDER that, overall, the ’70s were “a pretty appalling period in design.”

John Olson/Contributor/Getty Images1970 Frank Zappa.

“Yet, everything comes back around eventually, and designers tell me the ‘70s are seeing a resurgence as well,” Sanders said. But there are some trends Sanders notes have not made a comeback — at least not yet.

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She told INSIDER the ’70s saw avocado-coloured appliances, bath fixtures, and anything else that could possibly come in the shade of green. And for that Cane said, “Thank you, next.”

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Source: ELLE Decor

Sanders said “elaborate swag” on window treatments is — thankfully — a thing of the past.

Horst P. Horst/Contributor/Getty ImagesHouse and Garden 1978

Back in the ’70s and ’80s, balloon valances — the treatments on the windows below — had their time in the sun. But that time is long since over. “The poof 80’s sleeved dresses had their moment, and so did these,” said Cane.

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Source: Lonny

In the ’70s, silk bedspreads also made a statement — unfortunately, not a statement worthy of sticking around.

Horst P. Horst/Contributor/Getty ImagesVogue 1976

Cane said they’re simply “too hot and slippery!”

Buffotot/Contributor/Getty ImagesVogue 1937

Cane said décor also became a bit more “glam” in the ’70s with chrome and stone finishings becoming popular. But too much stone can make your space look like an actual cave.

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The beaded lamps of the ’70s are out as well. After all, nobody wants to “hear the beads jingle every time they turn on and off a lamp, especially before sleeping,” Cane told INSIDER.

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The late ’70s and ’80s saw lots of carpet — everywhere! In the ’50s, carpet was seen as a luxury. But as time progressed, people started to use it to cover anything in their homes.

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Source: Apartment Therapy

And bathrooms were no exception.

Frederic Lewis/Staff/Getty ImagesNotice the scale covered in carpet that matches the floor circa 1985.

“We used to have those carpet toilet bowl covers and mat sets,” Cane said. “We even used to put the carpet pad around the top of the toilet seat.”

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In the 1980s, people used glass blocks as partitions around their house to offer privacy while still letting light flow through the space.

Source: Apartment Therapy, Architectural Digest

But, as Cane points out, “everyone can still see through glass.” So they may not be the best choice for your bathroom window.

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Cane says the printed plastic tablecloths of the late ’80s are “cheap and unsanitary.”

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Source: Lonny

“We’ve realised that fabrics like linens and sunbrella offer the same concept as plastic for easy cleanup,” Cane told INSIDER. He said these options look way more expensive, feel nicer, and you can throw them in the wash before reusing — which he calls another universal design feature for modern-day living.

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In the ’80s, florals were on everything.

Horst P. Horst/Contributor/Getty ImagesVogue 1983 The ‘jardin d’hiver’ room at fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent’s nineteenth-century chateau at Benerville in Normandy, France.

Source: Cheat Sheet, Apartment Therapy, ELLE Decor

And that makes Cane think one thing: “Collectively we can all say #grandmashouse.”

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During the 1980s and 1990s wallpaper borders near the ceiling or at chair-rail level were all the rage.

Horst P. Horst/Contributor/Getty ImagesVogue 1980

Source: SFGate, ELLE Decor

Those boarders followed the painted ceiling boarders of the 1930s.

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In the ’80s, stenciling and applying decals on walls were also a popular trend, says Cane.

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The 1990s saw a new take on stencils. Decorators started taking sponges to them for a technique that would leave a different texture on the wall.

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Source: ELLE Decor

They could also get a different texture by dragging the sponge in circles instead of dabbing it.

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Source: ELLE Decor

“We wanted to achieve texture, but there are so many modern products now that create the same textures, but better, from wallpapers to actual paneling that can be installed,” Cane told INSIDER.

Accent walls are big in design now and serve the same purpose.

While inflatable furniture has been around since the ’60s …

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Source: Apartment Therapy, BuzzFeed

… it really made its mark on the ’90s and early 2000s with pseudo-ambassadors like Britney Spears and every tween-focused retailer at the time — we’re looking at you Delia*s and Limited Too.

Source: BuzzFeed

Even though the trend brought us that amazing Britney chair, Cane still declares inflatable furniture one of the worst things to happen to home décor in the ’90s: “Skin + Plastic = unnecessary flatulence sounds that you didn’t make!” He isn’t wrong.

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The ’90s also saw a trend of yellow-stained wood.

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“To be blunt, this was one of the worst wood stain trends ever,” Cane said. “What is appealing about a yellowish wood? It reminds me of all the neighbourhood spec homes I grew up in.”

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And dark wood staining also found its way into homes of that time, which Cane said is a big no-no now-a-days.

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“When an entire room is dark with dark wood, it’s cavernous,” he said. “We’ve now taken design to a more soft, light, and neutral tonal palette throughout the room.”

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This decade also featured a trend that Cane said gives off a not-so-welcoming vibe: draping blankets or fabric over couches and chairs as an accent.

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He says it makes him think of someone who’s trying to protect their sofa from an overload of dog hair.

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Another big trend in the ’90s Cane doesn’t miss: Solid, dark-stained, ornate, wooden headboards. “Who wants a dark, hard board hanging over their head before bed?” he asked.

Dave Allocca/Contributor/Getty ImagesEartha Kitt 1998

Another ’90s trend Cane said is out of date is large-scale family portraits over the mantel or on the staircase. “We’ve grown from this and learned you can dedicate a nice area of wall space to family photos instead — still loving your family just the same,” he said.

‘Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life’/Netflix

Cane also remembers the ’90s as being filled with sunflowers, from wall patterns to dishes.

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From the ’90s to early 2000s, one craze Cane doesn’t miss featured brands as the design. You could find colourful Lisa Frank artwork everywhere.

Urban Outfitters Television/YouTubeMila Kunis was in a Lisa Frank commercial featuring the bedding in 1993.

Source: Jezebel

“It had its moment — I was a HUGE Lisa Frank fan — but I think we all realised that, just because we love a brand or designer, we wouldn’t post TOM FORD printed out all over walls for our design motif,” Cane said.

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In the early 2000s, shabby chic resurfaced in bedrooms and living rooms.

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Source: Lonny

Originally introduced in the ’80s, this is one trend Cane and Sanders don’t see making another comeback anytime soon.

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Source: Lonny

Cane told INSIDER that today, rather than covering everything in the same pattern in hopes of achieving a neutral design, decorators curate neutral items to create warm — rather than cold — environments.

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