Getting Your 'Grandmillennial' On!

You’re not alone if you feel the urge to ‘comfort decorate’ your home right now. ‘Grandmillennial’ as a term has been around since September 2019, first coined by writer Emma Bazilian in an article for America’s House Beautiful. In her article, Emma explains: ‘Ranging in age from mid-20s to late-30s, grandmillennials have an affinity for design trends considered by mainstream culture to be “stuffy” or “outdated”—Laura Ashley prints, ruffles, embroidered linens.’

Grandmillenial is a little bit grandma, but it’s not QUITE full-on English cottage vibes. It is diametrically opposed to the minimal, Scandi aesthetic that has dominated interior design mood boards for decades. Grandmillennial is all about mixing old and new to create a feeling of comfort and nostalgia which, let’s face it, is what we’re craving right now (locally, Anna Spiro is the queen of this aesthetic!).

Lauren Li gives us the lowdown on how to bring this look to life!

Lauren Li

Project by Anna Spiro. Photo – Eleanor Byrne.

Project by Lisa Burdus. Photo – Maree Homer. Styling – Lisa Burdus

Project by Lisa Burdus. Photo – Maree Homer. Styling – Lisa Burdus

Project by Lisa Burdus. Photo – Maree Homer. Styling – Lisa Burdus

Project by Lisa Burdus. Photo – Maree Homer. Styling – Lisa Burdus

Project by Anna Spiro. Photo – Tim Salisbury.

Project by Anna Spiro. Photo – Eleanor Byrne.

Project by Anna Spiro. Photo – Hannah Puechmarin.

The home of Robyn Holt in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.  Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The home of Robyn Holt in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.  Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Project by Tamsin Johnson. Photo – Anson Smart.

Project by Maine House Interiors. Photo – Brent Lukey.

Project by Reath Design. Photo – Laure Joliet.

Project by Reath Design. Photo – Laure Joliet.

Lauren Li
31st of August 2021

Like a lot of interior designers, my first exposure to decoration was at home and thanks to my Mum. Being a kid of the 80s, my Mum totally bought into the country cottage aesthetic that was popular at the time. We’re talking antique dressing tables, terracotta cherubs, flying ducks on the wall and round tables covered in tablecloths. Mum went all out with the Laura Ashley wallpaper and those boarder friezes, so when I see similar patterned wallpaper I feel that warm fuzzy feeling of nostalgia.

Grandmillennial style doesn’t quite go this far. It’s about embracing those English cottage vibes, but with a contemporary twist.

Considering that practically all we’ve been exposed to design-wise in the past twenty years is modernist, clean spaces, there is now a growing appreciation of decoration and comfort. Layering pattern and colour in our homes for the pure joy they bring. We’re also once again appreciating the soul and atmosphere that an antique ‘one-of-a-kind’ piece brings to a room, in a world overflowing with cookie-cutter furniture.

Surround yourself with objects that are full of meaning. A collection of porcelain plates, an antique clock that’s been in the family (or maybe someone else’s family and you just found it on Marketplace) or a characterful lamp.

It almost seems defiant – rebellious even – to choose a floral fabric for a plush sofa complete with contrasting trim, as opposed to the sensible grey sofa that ‘won’t date’. Grandmillennial style fully embraces comfort and nostalgia – because you only live once! Here are some tips for how to make this aesthetic work in your own home.


Grandmillennial style shows an element of curation and freshness. Be careful that you don’t replicate Grandma’s house! It’s all about a careful balance of frivolity and restraint.

Instead of displaying your entire collection of cabbage plates, just choose a few. Having a considered edit of objects displayed together allows for those pieces to really shine, rather than getting lost in clutter. There is a balance to creating a space where the eye never gets bored and yet doesn’t feel overwhelmed – have some fun with it!


Mixing pattern is a key factor in bringing in grandmillennial style. It seems like quite a scary thing to do, and to be honest, it kind of is! Mixing too many patterns and not getting it right can look shambolic, but there are a few tips to help:

1. Mix patterns that share a common colour scheme. You want the space to appear that is has evolved over time rather than chosen from a catalogue, which is much easier said than done!

2. Scale is the most important element to consider. The patterns need to contrast in scale, such as a small tight gingham check combined with a large scale floral. If there isn’t enough contrast in scale, then the patterns compete and there is nowhere for the eye to rest.

3. Chose a ‘hero’ pattern and allow the other patterns to be secondary. This goes for artwork too. The pattern and artwork should not complete, so keep in mind the element of scale here too.


There is a new appreciation for the craftsmanship of an antique piece, especially as those artisanal skills are almost lost now. The thrill of sourcing a unique antique piece that speaks to you is even better than watching Antiques Roadshow and seeing a dusty old vase valued for £20,000.

An antique piece is so ‘real’ and appealing in a sea of mass-produced pieces. The wood is solid, the craftsmanship is sturdy and built to last and plus, it has a story to tell. As far as keeping your space fresh, mixing old with new is key.  For example, an ornate console with a contemporary artwork hanging above.


Adapting a traditional formal layout is a great way to bring in grandmillennial style. Think a symmetrical furniture layout with a console table at the back of the sofa and lamps at each end, and armchairs opposite each other. The pieces don’t all need to be in a traditional style, however arranging them this way brings a formality to the space.

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