Antique collectors never really fared well during the minimalist lifestyle takeover (though I tried and still try). Some of us got on board with farmhouse style, though I never really fell in love with shiplap. But then came the mainstream decor trend that made us feel truly seen: grandmillenial style.
I wear it like a badge of honor that my ex-boyfriend complained that my house looked like a grandma’s nearly a decade ago; I dug my heels in and refused to remove the gallery wall of florals that he despised. So I may be a little late to writing about this design phenomenon, but I am surely not new to its mystique.
“Granny-chic” has been my default since I had a bedroom to fill with art, seashells, rocks, and all the things I’ve collected over the years. But what is it exactly? And how can you make your collections look like they too should be featured on Pinterest?
What Is Grandmillenial Style?
Grandmillenial style is a somewhat niche design movement that marries pattern and texture with collectible antiques like rattan, needlepoint, and even grandma’s sofa. Walking through a “granny-chic” home can be very similar to, well, walking through your grandmother’s home in the late 1980s, only these homeowners are in their twenties and thirties (and the trend started to become mainstream in 2019). For many early adopters, embracing the design wasn’t so much hopping on a trend as it was finally putting a name to a lifestyle with serious longevity.
Sustainability and Sentiment
The essence of the grandmillenial style movement is the link between sustainability and sentiment. A collected home is evolving (so it doesn’t feel stagnant), but it is also timeless. Vintage and antique furniture wins over a quick and inexpensive fix at large chains like IKEA. And what’s not to love about this aesthetic for someone who considers antique collecting a lifelong hobby? Sure, some antique collectors stick to a specific style, like Art Deco or Midcentury Modern, but many prefer the more lived-in “granny” look that spans numerous decades and eras: These relaxed rules (wood tones can mismatch and so can metals and shapes) help antique collections shine and actually feel less stuffy or outdated.
All Jokes Aside
Eclectic is the word that comes to mind when thinking about an antique collector’s home; the spaces can be as varied as the specific collections that catch our fancy. To me, walking through a grandmillennial home isn’t at all about the negative connotation people try to jestingly put on it. The space isn’t a reflection of that stale smell coming from grandma’s basement. Instead, it’s more like a walk through an airy English cottage that has a rotating display of enticing objects and smells like the fresh-cut roses from the garden. The rooms are meant to evolve, and the joy is found in taking old items and presenting them in new ways, time and time again.
Grandmillennial Decor Ideas
1. Artwork Hung on a Bookshelf Frames
Bookshelves are a must for most antique collectors because they are incredibly versatile and can be rearranged as items make their way in and out of our homes. Switch it up by using Command Strips to hang artwork in this unconventional way.
2. Curio Cabinets Filled With Oddities
A curio cabinet or any other type of display is a must for this design style to take hold in your home. Fill it with fancy glassware, crystals, artwork, or anything that you love. It doesn’t matter what other people are posting on Instagram. If they collect flow blue, do you have to collect flow blue? Sure, but only if you love it, too. Start a collection because it adds something to your life, not because you want to mimic a look you saw elsewhere that got thousands of likes.
3. Multiple Patterns and Textures
There are several fabric and wallpaper companies that can help you get old-world looks without having to do much guesswork. This company supplied the drapes in the pattern Birds in Lake. When selecting patterns, the actual pattern doesn’t matter as much as the color story (so pick patterns just because you love them!). Here you see five different fabrics and patterns using navy, lemon, clementine, and grass, so the look feels cohesive even if the patterns themselves seem scattered.
4. Cozy Nooks Filled With Antiques
I live in a small 1,200-square-foot apartment, yet I still find ways to add unexpected nooks. These little reading areas or writing desks give me more places to explore hobbies or relax, and it actually makes the space feel bigger. It’s a common misconception that more stuff makes a room feel smaller. In many cases, an empty room with only one place to sit can feel more isolating and less welcoming. Of course, there is a fine line between a more maximal use of space and hoarding, so tread that line lightly.
5. Moody Wall Colors
We’ve all seen these deep, dark moody wall colors everywhere. Not every grand millennial home embraces the dark wall colors, but it’s a quick way to add an instant lived-in feel to a room. I recommend using them if you get ample natural light in your home and your rooms are on the larger side. Dark colors can make gold gilded frames and other collectibles, chintz, and textures really pop.