Let’s face it: the 1980s was a weird decade, which is certainly reflected in the interior design of the era. From the twee florals of Laura Ashley to the obsession with ferns to the lingering horror of wall-to-wall carpeting – in the bathroom! – here are 15 ’80s design trends we’re glad to see gone.
Etched Glass Shower Doors
Nothing screams ’80s louder than etched glass, especially when found on shower doors. Plants and floral motifs were a popular choice at the time, as were swans (go figure) but an etched-glass silhouette of a naked woman riding on a cloud of steam could have come right out of Tony Montana’s bathroom in Scarface.
For reasons that have been lost to the sands of time, ferns became ridiculously popular with designers during the 1980s. The intent was clearly to add some organic greenery to the space, yet when overdone (which happened a lot) the affect was more akin to being on the set of a Tarzan movie.
Harvest Gold Appliances
Harvest gold became the go-to colour for ’80s kitchen appliances, supplanting the avocado-hued fridges and stoves of the previous decade. And while you could make the argument that harvest gold was slightly more attractive, that’s kind of like arguing that getting punched in the nose is better than stepping on a nail.
Seriously, what was the deal with pink bathrooms in the ’80s? Pink paint + pink tiles + pink tub enclosure = waaay too much pink. A popular bathroom colour in the 1950s that was revived for the 1980s, let’s hope this particular trend isn’t exhumed anytime soon.
Glass bricks were all the rage in the 1980s, used – and ultimately overused – for their ability to create a room divider while allowing light to stream through. These days, glass blocks are the perfect choice for anyone trying to create a decor themed to “hopelessly dated.”
The term “shabby chic” was first coined in the early 1980s, mixing contemporary pieces with refurbished flea market finds. Although the shabby chic ethos has evolved and matured over the years, the 1980s version was the equivalent of Madonna’s eclectic mix-and-match, underwear-on-the-outside “Like a Virgin”-era wardrobe. There’s a reason why she doesn’t dress that way anymore.
Wall-to-Wall Shag Carpeting
Just think, there’s probably some gorgeous hardwood flooring concealed beneath all shag – and you don’t even want to know how many Muppets lost their lives in order to create that carpet.
Wall-to-wall carpeting is understandable, but one ’80s design trend that remains baffling was carpeted bathrooms. Given that thick, lush carpeting is also a thick, lush bacteria trap, this is just wrong on so many levels (and no jokes about how this carpet was white when it was installed).
Wallpaper borders were a big thing in the 1980s, apparently appealing to people who kind of wanted wallpaper but just couldn’t bring themselves to make a whole-wall commitment.
Chintz can be somewhat polarizing, with people either loving it or hating it. Of course, when you see it used like this, it’s pretty easy to pick a side…
Laura Ashley Florals
Hard to believe now, but back in the 1980s there were upwards of 200 Laura Ashley outlets throughout the world, selling floral-print clothing, bedding, pillows and the like. Looking back, the overall effect was kind of like living in a life-sized version of Barbie’s Dream House.
Pale, muted pastels were all the rage in the 1980s, often utilized in weird, ulta-busy weird patterns reminiscent of those eye-straining “Magic Eye” posters that became popular in the 1990s.
The Preppy Look
The so-called “preppy look” gained a foothold in fashion (remember polo shirts with the collars raised?), and the same thing happened with home decor, characterized by lots of stripes, with blue being a big colour. As trends go, this one was not so much terrible as it was terribly boring.
Along with track lighting and cane furniture, vertical blinds were embraced in the 1980s, primarily as a way to force future homeowners to rip them out and install a window covering that doesn’t look like it belongs in Richard Gere’s American Gigolo apartment.
Vinyl was all the rage in kitchens and bathrooms (or at least the ones that weren’t carpeted), but who isn’t glad this trend has gone the way of Flock of Seagulls and the DeLorean?