Anyone that’s redone an old house knows that if you peel back layers of wallpaper or carpeting, you’re transported to a different era. The hardwood that’s hiding under that 70’s linoleum or the outdated 50’s wallpaper show us a glimpse into trends of yore. As we turn the corner into a new decade, we thought it would be fun to look at the last 100 years of wallpaper and discover what the most popular styles were for each decade. Who knows? Maybe it will help us make some trend predictions for the decade to come!
Homes in the 1920’s looked quite different than they do today. Electricity was just starting to become commonplace, and the refrigerator hadn’t been invented yet. Yet wallpaper, like many industries during the roaring 20’s, was booming!
Traditional botanical wallpaper was still popular throughout the western world but the twenties marked the beginning of the modern era, thus a move away from Victorian styles of the turn of the century. Films set in faraway, exotic places inspired textiles and home décor, while the emerging art deco movement brought glitzy opulence to the forefront of design.
The style of the era can be defined by the transition away from traditional towards the modern. The most popular wallpaper patterns from the 1920’s were bird and branch motifs.
Crossbill Off-White Branches from A-Street Prints features a hand drawn design of darling birds with a subtle fade, giving it a vintage-y look.
Although the 30’s were economically tough for many, wallpaper was still being produced and homes were still being decorated. Brand new music styles such as swing and jazz, paired with Art Deco, the dominant design style of the era, were shaping culture and influencing fashion, architecture and interior design.
Stylized depictions of plants, animals and suns are classically Art Deco and can be seen in the most famous examples of the style. Floral wallpaper was still popular (when is it not?) but a trend emerged in the 30’s of layering floral motifs atop abstract patterns, which was the most widespread style during this decade.
The luxury and opulence of the Art Deco movement came to a screeching halt during the 40’s. World War 2 ended and the postwar years saw men coming back from war and building lives and homes with their families. The rationing mentality of wartime carried over into the postwar years, which led to people living economically in small homes with little clutter.
Interior design trends of the 40’s matched this mentality. The glitz and glam of the decades before were replaced with styles that were simple, wholesome and sentimental. The most popular wallpaper patterns during the 1940’s were simple florals.
Bloom Toss Blue Floral Wallpaper from Brewster Home Fashions is a contemporary take on the simple nostalgia of the 40’s.
The 1950’s marked the end of the rationing mentality as more and more families began leaving cities for larger, suburban homes. It was a decade of prosperity, scientific discovery, and futurism, which was all reflected in home décor.
Mid-century modern, a distinctly American design movement, gained popularity in the home with futuristic-inspired furniture and patterns that were bold and abstract. It was common in a 50’s home for there to be two or even three different wallpaper patterns or textures in one single room.
Florals remained popular as well as crisscrossed, sketchy patterns. However, the most popular wallpaper patterns in the 1950’s was small geometric motifs in pastel colors.
Beatrix Grey Modern Geometric Wallpaper from Brewster Home Fashions is a sophisticated geometric print that’s chic and timeless.
Some might know the sixties as a time of peace, love and rock and roll. Others might remember it as a tumultuous era both politically and culturally. One thing we can all agree on is that a lot happened during this decade!
The influence of rock and roll and the hippie movement led to a rejection of the conservative values of the generations before. Bean bags, bold patterns, lava lamps: These are not the home décor of the 50’s! The influences of Mod style (think Austin Powers), Pop Art (Andy Warhol) and the Hippie Movement led to interior design that was bright, bold and cool. The most popular wallpaper patterns from the swinging sixties were vivid geometric shapes.
In many ways there was overlap between the 60’s and 70’s. Counter culture became 70’s antiwar protests with hippie culture becoming mainstream. The rock icons from the 60’s remained popular, but disco emerged and gained mass appeal. Home décor remained similar between the two decades.
The most notable feature of 70’s interior design was the shiny, chrome accents (thanks disco!) and the warm mustards and avocado tones that dominated any truly 70’s home. The most popular wallpaper patterns during this decade were large, flat patterns in earth tones.
Archer Red Linen Geometric Wallpaper from A-Street Prints includes flat, geometric shapes in the warm tones of the 70’s, but with a fabric-like texture, giving it a contemporary twist.
The 80’s were a time of economic prosperity and the indulgence. Your standard 1980’s home would have included wall to wall carpeting, drapes, and a monolithic stereo system. Style is cyclical and the bold prints of the 60’s and 70’s began to go out of fashion with a push towards more traditional influences. This was led by celebrity interior designer, and the prince of chintz, Mario Buatta.
Chintz is characterized by its large multicolored floral print and it was everywhere in the 80’s! It was not uncommon to see the same pattern on a couch, carpet and curtains, all in the same room. The most popular wallpaper during the 80’s was chintz. Go watch Sixteen Candles if you don’t believe us!
Anemone Multicolor Floral Wallpaper from A-Street Prints is certainly not your standard 80’s wallpaper! This chintz-style pattern is bold and modern, while playing homage to the arts and crafts movement of the 19th century.
What the 80’s were to frenetic patterns, the 90’s were to neutral minimalism. While bold, primary colors were often chosen for couches and chairs, decorators in the 90’s opted a simpler aesthetic than the eras before. Sponge painted walls (thanks to HGTV creating a generation of DIYers) and damasks were ubiquitous in the 90’s.
Although the damask print has been popular for decades, during the mid to late 1990’s it was everywhere! The most popular wallpaper in the 90’s was neutral damasks.
Adele Rose Damask Wallpaper from A-Street Prints is proof that damasks aren’t all created equal! The hand drawn design and neutral tones help elevate this classic pattern.
The 2000-2010 decade, otherwise known as “the noughties” ended over 10 years ago, but the pre-smartphone era, where boy bands ruled the billboard top 100 feels like it was yesterday. The growth of the internet, including widespread social media use, allowed for information to move quickly and swiftly throughout the world. The introduction of Etsy and the popularity of HGTV led to a trend in distressed, vintage furniture.
This look, also known as shabby chic, dominated the noughties which gave many homes a cottagecore look. Maybe it was the complicated and fast paced time we found ourselves in that explains why many found joy and comfort in recreating the look of days past. Shabby Chic florals were the most popular wallpaper during the 00’s era.
Ainsley Pink Boho Floral Wallpaper from A-Street Prints is the shabby chic print that still feels fresh!
The past decade in wallpaper has been about pushing the limits of what’s possible. Some amazing innovation in printing technology during the past 10 years has led to a shift in the wallpaper industry. The invention of peel and stick wallpaper has revolutionized the home décor industry, helping to make wallpaper accessible to a larger swath of the population. It’s renter friendly, affordable and can be removed without damaging walls.
Trompe l’oeil, meaning “trick of the eye,” is being used in wallpaper so people can easily recreate the look of exposed brick and wood paneling. In the last 10 years, the most popular patterns of wallpaper have been peel and stick imitation shiplap and imitation brick.
Shiplap Peel and Stick Wallpaper from Wallpops is an instant classic! Peel and Stick wallpaper is having a serious moment right now, and the shiplap motif can transform any home into a modern farmhouse oasis.
Now that a new decade has begun, we’re excited to see what kinds of patterns, colors and wallpaper substrates will emerge in popularity. Do you have any predictions? Comment below and let us know what styles you think will define the next 10 years!