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35 Years of Terrible Home Décor Trends

This year, the National Design Academy celebrates 35 years training the designers of the future. 35 years is a long time in home décor terms and our older staff members have seen more interior trends come and go that they’d want to remember.

But home décor trends are a funny thing. No one thinks they’re bad at the time but fast-forward ten or 35 years and everyone’s wondering why anyone ever thought they were a good idea. The good thing is, the worst home décor trends almost never come back to haunt us which is proof that good design endures the test of time!

When you ask around, almost everyone has different memories of standout trends from the last 35 years. Some were offended by chintz, others by decorative paint effects. We’ve compiled a Pinterest board of some of the best and worst design trends to grace homes over the last three and a half decades but we’ve also asked a panel of experts… which home décor trends would you put in Room 101?

Room 101 for Home Décor Trends
Marianne Shillingford – Creative Director, Dulux

I love that you have asked which 2 design trends I would lock away in Room 101.  Minimalism and cold LED lighting. I’m not quite ready to throw any paint effect in there just yet.  My grown-up kids now think the 70s, 80s and 90s are so cool and I love the mid-century modern style my parents grew up with…so everything comes around again and nothing should be off limits. 

And the 2 design trends I have loved and still love…House plants galore and home as a gallery of your life (who you are and what makes you smile).  Maybe that could be described as ‘joyful maximalism’.  

Photo Credit: Good Housekeeping Magazine / Victoria Adamson / Marianne Shillingford
Dr. Anthony Rayworth

In no particular order of loathing:

  • Anything that doesn’t reflect the character and personality of its owner.
  • Things that are only concerned with the display of wealth or of power over others.
  • Things intended not to last.
  • Things that pretend to be artisan when they aren’t.
  • Cold LED lights – there is simply no need for these in any context.
  • Reduced scale, Tudor-style plastic porch overhangs above the front doors of houses on new-build estates – I have no words.
  • Kettles and toasters with transfers of ears of corn or other such nonsense on them – when would you ever put corn in a kettle – this is semiotics gone mad.
  • Honey pots shaped like a beehive with ‘Hunny’ written on them. Just Don’t!
  • Overly sentimental, nostalgic claptrap.
  • Derivative art.
  • Door handles and cutlery that hurt hands when used.
Martin Nealon - Interior Designer

As interior designers we are fortunate enough to live in an age with a relatively sophisticated clientele who follow trends on social media and are usually very aware of current design styles. Bathrooms are a great example of this where clients see how a simple white suite can create a beautiful bathroom and they can apply a sense of individuality using tiles and lighting.

It wasn’t always like this however as some designers like me are old enough to remember the dreaded coloured bathroom suite. Pampas green, powder blue, purple and orange were all the rage in the 80’s.

As a designer at the time, I would start a bathroom design with a tasteful colour pallet in mind only to be thwarted by the clients insistence on a coloured bathroom suite which always turned out to be a hideous choice. Once the client has insisted on this the bathroom design takes a downward turn with the coloured suite dominating everything in the room and almost instantaneously dating it.

These were dreadful times for a designer, and I still wake up with nightmares about it, I have been psychologically scared by this trend! A little bit over dramatic I agree but you had to live through the 80’s to appreciate the horror of it!

I am aware that, like fashion, home décor trends tend to go full circle and I’m dreading the day coloured bathroom suits come back into fashion! 

Please put the dreaded coloured bathroom suite into Room 101 and lock the door on it forever!

Megan Howells - NDA Tutor

I would consign the everything grey interior trend with the famous “Live, Laugh, Love” quotation sign to Room 101. I picked this interior trend as I feel an interior should represent a person’s interests, personality, lifestyle, etc but this trend has been overused, it’s bland, and does not have enough visual interest. 

Alison Grace-Gahan - Interior Designer & NDA Tutor

Animal head plaques and stuffed animals are one of the worst home décor trends or interior accent that can be added to an interior. Taxidermy can be dated back to Victorian times where stuffing animals was considered the norm. The idea of stuffed animals of any kind gives me goose bumps. Even faux taxidermy in a nursery would really creep me out if I was a baby looking at a chopped off lion or elephant head. Prints are so much easier.

Gill Lotter - Garden Designer & NDA Tutor

ASDA Garden Gnomes. Need I say more??

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