When it comes to the Millennial Home Decor/Gen Z Style divide, I consider myself firmly planted in the so-called "Genzennial" camp. With one foot in either generation (I was born at the start of 1996, the final year of millennial qualification), I'd like to think I have a decent handle on the tendencies of each, though my elder and younger counterparts might certainly beg to differ.
In some ways, the difference between these two groups is no more pronounced than it is on TikTok, where each faction spends a considerable amount of time pointing out its differences from the other across things like corporate etiquette, social media prowess, and yes, even homes purchases from some of the best home decor brands out there. One creator in particular even sparked weeks of media discussion after his quite astute analysis of Gen Z vs. Millennial interior design trends went viral.
After seeing the video myself, it got me thinking. What are the differences between Millennial and Gen Z home decor? At which point might a person with taste age, say, 35, diverge with the same person at age 25? Which lane do I, your token genzennial, tend to lean into more? And — the even better question — which lane do YOU?
So join me as I, along with a few experts, discuss and investigate this pressing question, and maybe even do a bit of shopping along the way.
What is Millennial decor?
Typical Millennial decor is typically characterized and 'heavily influenced by mid-century modern and minimalist scandi, with simple lines and a utilitarian no-frills kind of clean look,' writer and interior designer Kelly Kruger, who has written many a piece about the design differences between the two generations, told me. 'Millennials gravitated toward neutral color palettes heavy in cool grey tones, white and bright airy spaces,' she went on. 'Think straight angles and clean lines, curated vignettes with little clutter.'
'It’s well known that millennials love nostalgia, which explains their preference for both retro and mid-century modern design styles,' agreed Octavio Estrada, senior architectural designer at Block Renovation. While Gen Z tends to be more maximalist (we'll get into that in a minute), Millennials are more focused on minimalism, particularly as it relates to the 'hygge' design trend and the desire to create 'warm, comfortable living spaces,' Octavio said. This is where 'millennial pink' — or that dusty rose color that eventually infiltrated every room, movie, and piece of furniture — really came into play.
As far as patterns go, millennials were obsessed with the chevron print, which, per Octavio, now feels outdated (I would agree). But a trend that has endured is the age group's use of plants, which still works rather nicely all around.
Kelly and Octavio's comments in mind, I've rounded up a few decor and furniture pieces I think fit this type of decor. If you're drawn to this specific section, I'd be willing to bet I know which generation you belong to ...
There it is, that Millennial pink, covering a distinctly Millennial swivel armchair. Now picture this in every other form of decor and furniture imaginable.
Millennials love marble accents, as Kelly pointed out during our conversation. And a marble coffee table like this three-legged one is probably the most prevalent type of silhouette.
In his viral TikTok, Reeves Connelly recalls the millennial obsession with pineapples (which Gen Z seems to have replaced with a love of mushroom-themed decor). Pay homage to that devotion with this pineapple curtain tieback from Anthropologie. A great way to honor your millennial roots, but in an understated manner.
Price: From $14
Two more things Millennials love — brass accents and plants. This brass plant stand, available in three sizes, combines both sensibilities seamlessly.
There it is again! That classic millennial pink, this time wrapped around a decidedly mid-century modern two seater sofa. A BOGO in generational trends (the pink, plus MCM furniture).
What is Gen Z decor?
While Millennial decor tends to lean toward the simple and minimalist, Gen Z is all about maximalism. Members of this elite squad appreciate 'uniqueness and individuality,' Octavio said, both of which 'can be seen in their home decor preferences.'
While their Millenial elders reach for clean, straight lines, Gen Z gravitates toward those of the wavy and wiggly variety. Expect 'lots of colors, soft round shapes [and] textures, and abundant decor,' as well as 'bright, bold, loud, novelty art pieces and sculptural furniture,' Kelly said. 'For Gen Z, I think arches, wiggles, and checkers.'
Moreover, Gen Z is also 'highly conscious of environmental impact,' Octavio continued, 'so they prioritize upcycled home decor, mixing in thrifted or vintage pieces.' In other words, brand sustainability is a huge factor with today's youth.
This mirror is the moment. It is the It Girl, it is the zeitgeist, it is perhaps the most coveted piece of home decor for celebrities, influencers, and average social media users alike right now. You can find lots of similar remakes online for less, but none will entirely capture the magic that is the original Ettore Sottsass.
Bringing it back to mushroom decor, I couldn't dream up a more Gen Z-inclined table lamp if I tried. And it's from Urban Outfitters, so that's double the points.
Checkerboard is one of my biggest weaknesses ... and it's one of Gen Z's, too. I wouldn't be able to resist this massive option from Wayfair on one of the brand's best rugs.
Gen Z is all about bright, pops of color and unique statement pieces. Combine both with this pillow from king of whimsy Jonathan Adler.
When I say 'Gen Z couch,' just know this is exactly what I mean. A curved, arch shape, a pop of color, and an individualistic feel.
So how did I do? Does some of this decor look suspiciously similar to that of your apartment or home? I have a feeling I'm not terribly wrong ... but even if I am, hopefully I inspired you to do some shopping regardless. C'est la vie!
How can I update my Millennial style?
If you're a Millennial looking to meet the Gen Z moment without totally abandoning your 80s and 90s baby roots, don't worry — it is possible. 'I think just incorporating more color with pattern and texture would refresh any Millennial space,' Kelly suggested.
Perhaps you put up some wallpaper. Maybe you buy some new throw pillows, or add in a 'few sculptural accents' that could serve as 'weird conversation pieces.' And you should probably ditch any 'Live, Laugh, Love' decor. Otherwise, though, definitely don't stress too much. 'The nice thing about millennial style is its versatility,' Kelly said. 'You can adapt it to nearly any look.'
Plus, good design is timeless. It doesn't matter which generation you're in or which style you like. If you do it well, that's all that counts.
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Brigid Kennedy is a style editor at Livingetc.com, where she is responsible for obsessively combing the internet for the best and most stylish deals on home decor and more. She was previously a story editor at TheWeek.com, where she covered both U.S. politics and culture. She describes her design style as colorful and clean, and in her free time enjoys reading, watching movies, and curating impossibly niche playlists on Spotify. She lives in New York.
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