The 5 Home Trends Millennials and Baby Boomers Just Can’t Agree On
It sounds like the lead-in to a meme: If you love blush pink, neon signs and brass accents, you might be a millennial. But can a generation really be distilled into a single aesthetic? Of course not. We’re much more complex than that, but still, there’s something about growing up in a certain cultural climate and being at particular stages of our lives that can reveal a few common threads. And, after poring over data from interior design service Modsy’s 2021 Interior Wellness Report, combined with insights from color experts and designers, we found a few key trends that define baby boomers and millennials—and they couldn’t be more different. Here’s what we learned.
1. Overall Aesthetic
Millennials: Mid-Century Modern
Wait, why are millennials wild about a design movement that was popular decades before they were born? Blame it on Mad Men. No, seriously—the show’s rise in popularity dovetails with the time many millennials started furnishing their own homes. As for why boomers are less crazy about it, that may be more of a “been there, lived through that” scenario, considering the aesthetic’s heyday occurred right around the time they were born (roughly 1947 to 1957).
“In our research, we found millennials really leaned toward modern, minimal looks whereas baby boomers liked cozy, traditional, comfortable spaces,” says Alessandra Wood, vice president of style at Modsy. There’s still a strong interest in modernism’s clean lines among the older generation, only they prefer a style more closely aligned with Joanna Gaines’s vibe: Picture matte black accents, farmhouse sinks and warm wood tones.
2. Vibe of the Home
Boomers: Calm, relaxed
When it came to the overall feeling they wanted their home to have, millennials craved a sense of organization above all else, while baby boomers “wanted to feel calm, relaxed and happy—in that order,” Wood reveals. Surprisingly, “happy” wasn’t even a top three characteristic for millennials and Gen X—in fact, “productivity” emerged as a top interest among younger millennials, which may have to do with the stage of life each generation is in.
Many millennials are working from home or have young families: “They might be looking to have control over their environment, and an organized space gives them that,” Wood suggests. (As anyone who’s tripped over LEGO blocks at 1 a.m. can attest, there’s a delightful peace that comes with decluttering.)
3. Color Palette
Millennials: higher-contrast colors
Boomers: soothing tones
Across the board, warmer neutrals and colors that feel plucked straight from nature are most popular right now, particularly blues and greens. “Homeowners are looking for a fresh perspective on color, regardless of their age,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “However, we may notice a slight difference in which shades of these trending colors each generation embraces the most. Baby Boomers often look to color as a way to explore self-expression and are often drawn to soothing colors that cool and refresh the spirit.”
That falls in line with Modsy’s finding about creating a tranquil space. So, their take on the nature-inspired color trend tends to be a bit more muted, like Sherwin-Williams’s Sea Salt. “Millennials tend to gravitate toward higher-contrast hues, as well as those that draw on nostalgia from the past, like Inky Blue SW 9149 or Basque Green SW 6426.”
4. Polarizing Wall Art
Millennials: Boob line drawings
Boomers: Word art
When polling millennials and baby boomers for this story, two pieces of art came up again and again: word art (specifically “gather” and “live, laugh, love” signs) and line art (specifically simple sketches of breasts). The former has been particularly popular among boomers—and unsurprisingly, modern farmhouse fans—while the latter has been associated with millennial displays of feminism. Both have become so ubiquitous they’ve become part punchline, part critique (see: “How am I supposed to Live, Laugh, Love under these conditions?” memes and arguments boob motifs have become an emblem for “a feminism that wishes to seem intersectional without any actual action”). It’s safe to say both looks have jumped the shark.
5. TV Placement
Millennials: Living rooms
Once upon a time, “should you hide your TV?” was hotly debated. Nowadays, the question is less about obscuring the black mirror and instead determining where to put it. Modsy’s research found that millennials were more likely to have a TV in the living room than baby boomers were, but that baby boomers were far more likely to have a TV in the bedroom.
This could come down to varying priorities—if a relaxed home is key, why not make it easy to enjoy your fave show from the comfort of your bed? Though it could also be a sign that millennials aren’t in a rush to buy a TV for the bedroom because they’re far more likely than boomers to simply stream from their phones or laptops. (Modsy’s research found that roughly 6 percent of millennials said they carried streaming devices around their houses, compared to less than 2 percent of baby boomers.)