Appealing to Millennials: What Design Trends Make Them Tick?

Millennials, people roughly born in the 80's, 90's and the year 2000 and beyond are making their mark in this world. Today, they are the most popular demographic and many of today's technology and inventions are catered towards their needs. The same can be said when it comes to meeting their interior design needs. For a lot of Interior Designers and Decorators, the Millennials are one of their fastest-growing consumers and as more of them acquire their dream homes, their taste is slowly changing the world of design for architects, designers, and builders alike.

1. Flexibility is Key
Millennials lead a rather fast-paced life and need change. One day it's a house for a start-up couple, the next, they're a bustling family of four. Spaces, designs, and furniture that can adapt to their changing needs without having to spend so much on renovations are huge pluses. Movable furniture and partitions are a great way to make a space flexible and double the purpose of a room for other uses in the future. Foldable furniture that they can easily pack up when they decide to move houses is also preferred than bulky furniture.

Flexibility also means being able to choose designs that can be blended together effortlessly, something to consider when choosing design pieces for a space.

2. The Smaller the Better
Bigger used to be better, but with Millennials, not so much. The rising popularity of condos and modern apartments located in the urban areas have attracted many millennials and these spaces are known for being tiny. Aside from that, millennials have many things they want to invest in and those goals are not about to be thwarted by having most of their cash spent on bigger houses. Bigger houses mean more maintenance and construction which in turn will amount to bigger spending.

Multipurpose spaces and furniture that don't sacrifice style over function are the challenges a designer faces with the smaller square footage. Pieces of furniture like an ottoman with storage or a sleeper sofa that turns into a comfy bed in the evening are popular furniture that can be easily purchased anywhere. Loft-style beds with plenty of storage or another room such as a kitchenette or a toilet underneath are great space-savers too.

With a smaller space, millennials will forego bulky pieces and instead, choose one accent piece to highlight a room. Smaller spaces also mean less clutter so functional storage pieces are also a must. And again, this trend goes back to flexibility because smaller pieces will mean better mobility and adaptability when they decide to update the look of their space.

3. Taking a Risk with Bolder Colors
The previous generations were all about neutrals. Earth tones were a huge thing back then and so were pastels, but not so much with millennials. While neutrals and pastels are still popular with many homeowners and designers, millennials are taking the color game further by choosing bolder and flashier colors. Traditional color schemes are being traded for brighter mismatched palettes that surprisingly still looks put together. One way of upgrading their homes with brighter colors was by having a statement or accent color in a room. An example would be a room full of neutrals with a door painted in neon yellow. All black rooms such as kitchens are now making headlines. Even the babies' nurseries are getting upgraded with fuchsia and bright lime green instead of the usual pastel blue and pink. Nothing is impossible with the millennial mindset and with Pantone releasing new color trends every year, it won't come off as a surprise to see bolder color choices that were once frowned upon.

4. It's All About the Visuals
Social media plays a huge part in the lives of millennials. Sites such as Pinterest and Houzz have always shown beautifully arranged rooms that can. Those sites have had a huge impact on millennials that they also strive to apply the same kind of aesthetic appeal to their homes. Those pictures have one thing in common: The rooms are all neatly organized. One way of achieving this is by having lots of storage to keep the eyesores hidden and exposing the items that are begging to be viewed like beautiful hardbound books and a collection of souvenirs acquired over time. Shells, the most common souvenirs, can be placed in glass jars or a basket and displayed on a table. Memorable pictures can be printed, framed and beautifully arranged to create a gallery wall. Shadow boxes are great for those odds and ends and will lessen the clutter otherwise kept in drawers.

With the emergence of smart phones and tablets, wire management can become a challenge for any homeowner and a hindrance to achieving the Pinterest worthy home. Cable drops, clips, and boxes are great for organizing wires. If this isn't enough, an area rug can be relied upon to hide unsightly wires. Furniture with back panels can also hide unsightly wires. These items can make any home visually appealing.

5. Modern Technology and Sustainability
If there's one word to describe millennials, it's that they are hugely associated with modern technology. Their generation is hugely marked with the trendiest gadgets and out of all the generations, theirs are the most tech savvy. This makes sense when it comes to designing their homes because millennials will surely want a home that's not only stylish but also technologically advanced. Motion sensor lights are slowly gaining attention over traditional switch lights and so are motion sensor faucets and sprinkler. Roombas are preferred over huge vacuum cleaners, Bluetooth wireless speakers are being used in media rooms and even kitchens and toilets are getting a dose of technology. Shower temperatures, pressure, and massage settings can be digitally controlled now. Furniture wasn't spared in these technological advancements. Furniture designers are now designing with the gadget loving millennials in mind by incorporating charging stations or places to hold tablets, laptops, and smartphones in their furniture.

With technological advancements also comes more breakthroughs in being able to build more sustainable homes. Millennials are more aware and conscious of the global crises the world is facing when it comes to resources being slowly depleted, hence the need to incorporate energy efficiency and sustainability in their homes. Those who can afford it may opt for solar powered houses and sustainable materials are chosen during construction.

Millennials may have quirkier tastes in designs as compared to the older generations, but they are very specific in what they want and appealing to their needs changes as the years progress and more trends in design are developed. One thing is for sure, their tastes may have evolved, but their value for comfort and intimacy in space is still the same as any other generation.

- Coleman, Cindy, and Katie Sosnowchik. "Interior Design Trends and Implications." Grand Rapids, MI: Council for Interior Design Accreditation (2006).

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Last review and update: August 27, 2018

About the Author

Patty Benjabutr is an interior design enthusiast. She loves to write about actionable home decor knowledge because she believes interior design content is something much more than a collection of beautiful photos. You can contact Patty via e-mail.