Millennials and Baby Boomers add interior styling to their list of differences

Matt Wineera, AREINZ
Matt Wineera, AREINZ
Published on October 10, 2018

In interior styling what is surely the least surprising piece of information since grandma told you she wants to be buried with her porcelain knick-knacks, is the news that baby boomers and millennials have polar-opposite tastes in home interior styling.

Apparently, boomers don’t really care for minimalism.

“Really?” A snort from your grandfather from behind 20 tonnes of unused building supplies in his shed.

That sound you hear is your mother fluffing her textured pillows. Photo: BarrySheene

According to Beaumont Tiles, whose online survey asked 40,000 home dwellers about their interior styling choices, those aged 56 and over count “classic traditional” as their No.1 interior styling choice.

“Categorised by elegant and timeless features, with complex colours and symmetrical shapes, classic traditional interior styling is all about being warm and welcoming,” says Beaumont’s designer, Vanessa Thompson.

That sound you hear is your mother fluffing her textured pillows on the daybed in anticipation of a “nice Christmas lunch with the family for once”.

Coastal and country chic interior styling took up second and third place with those aged over 46. Photo: Stocksy

Meanwhile, Scandinavian interior styling is the No.1 style choice for those aged 16 to 25. The Scandi concept – defined by neutral colours, natural materials and a plethora of pale wood furnishings from IKEA – was least favoured interior styling by the 56-plus aged group.

Thompson points to the location and lifestyle choices of younger generations as the reason why Scandi interior styling is more popular among this age group – in other words, they’re too poor to, you know, be able to afford anything else. Blame it on avocado toast.

According to Thompson, younger generations are most likely living in apartments where space is restricted. “Scandi interior styling is functional, organic and yet radiates a playful persona that lends itself really well to small space living.”

Apparently, boomers don’t really care for flat-packed furniture. Photo: Stocksy

Did you hear that, millennials? Your three by four-metre pad is not just small – it’s playful! And what could be more playful than the paper-thin walls between your own room and your flatmate’s, guaranteeing you will hear every single sound her boyfriend makes when he visits for, well … he actually doesn’t know how long, as he’s kind of between gigs at the moment.

Alas, no matter how playful their slightly lopsided K-Mart shelving might appear, the findings also showed that generation-Y will eventually morph into their parents: classic traditional was the first choice interior styling of the demographic from 26 years and up.

“When you think about it, classic traditional interior styling really suits the first-home buyer or the older demographic, where the home is the main place for entertaining,” explains Thompson.

Still holding on slightly to their youth, the survey found those aged 26-45 chose Scandinavian interior styling as a second choice, and modern – defined as clutter-free and featuring a largely neutral decor – as their third preference.

Ah yes, which generation-Xer doesn’t long for a stainless-steel fridge, a borderless shower and a flat-screen TV the size of Tasmania?

Gen-Xer’s grew up on Star Wars and spent their adolescences devouring Brett Easton Ellis, so it makes sense that they’d want a home with an aesthetic somewhere between the Death Star and Patrick Bateman’s apartment in American Psycho.

There is also the slightly life-altering matter of children. For when you’ve accepted that glitter is now part of your carpet, and slime has a residence on the corner of your bath, you tend to want to keep every other surface clutter-free.

But while classic traditional interior styling was the winner for those aged 46 and over, coastal and country chic took up second and third-places respectively. “Seems right,” says your mother, watching re-runs of a romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep in a sprawling mansion in The Hamptons.

“Coastal interior styling is all about muted neutrals, crisp whites, blues, aquas, and really creating that beachside retreat, so you can see why this demographic would embracing this style,” says Thompson. Don’t bother updating your mother, she’s off to see Mamamia 2.

Although, it must be said, not everyone wants to replicate a house by the beach. For those who have discovered pottery or painting in retirement, there is a category called country chic!

“Country chic interior styling is also touching back to a time of rustic furniture, teamed with a relaxed style with heavier furnishings and florals – it’s perfect for those making a tree change, or just wanting to replicate its vibe,” Thompson adds.

In summary, your grandmother is right: those porcelain knick-knacks will die with her.

-Natalie Reilly

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