The last one hundred years defined by the color palette emerging from American pop culture, fashion, technology, design, and marketing. These fads reflected in the colors of home design.

The Jazz Age 1920s

The Jazz age, defined by Art Deco design, Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, and Dadaism which remain popular today as a mark of sophistication. In home design, Radical Modernist Art employed transparent layers of red, blue, yellow, and black. Bold, velvety colors, such as ultramarine and cadmium red emerged with the indulgences of the era.

Luxury, leisure, and adventure defined the 1920s. Entrenched in prohibition, Flappers snuck away to find happiness flaunting society’s morals of temperance and chastity. Flappers were the ultimate consumers transforming shopping into entertainment and recreation. Pop culture in the 1920s lavished yellow and gold accents to display wealth and energy. Wall colors were light greys and neutrals so that the accessories and furniture could pop with vibrant hues like Chinese Red and Peacock Blue.

The Depression 1930s

The Great Depression of the 1930s brought the escape into technicolor. Movies were more than an economical, family friendly source of entertainment. Movies were wish-fulfillment with timeless, iconic stars and the Golden age of Hollywood when studio system was at its peak. Contemporary tastes and ideals emerging from the movies spawned board games, comics, and magazines that shaped the American palate. The Depression was full of despair and dread, but at the movies, hope lived.

In the 1930s, the preference was for dark deep colors. Houses painted forest green, dark teal, barn red, and slate grey. The Great Depression led to Spartan home interiors. Brick and brass fireplaces, chrome wall scones with milk-shades, metal pole lamps with beaded fringe, and small, round mirrors to add light were the only indulgences. Delicate sheer curtains to maximize light in home interiors; Home interiors were made from industrial materials like concrete, steel, and glass. Furniture and decoration were spare giving the rooms a spacious feel.

Although primary colors were the common accent colors, the most popular color of the decade was bright orange. Orange with pale green or cream as the technicolor vibrancy of the Wizard of Oz influenced the home design. Interior colors of the 1930s were creamy yellows, soft pinks, and blue grey with deep forest green and burgundy accents.

Patriotism 1940s

World War II led to rationing and restrictions.  To keep up the American morale, movies and propaganda posters promoted a romantic sense of duty in the populace.  Norman Rockwell’s depictions of small-town life promoted cheerful reminiscence.  Wartime fashion became minimalistic and pragmatic.  A 1943 Disney movie featured Donald Duck and was set in muddy tones of green, brown, and yellow.  Cartoons and comic books promoted patriotism since drafted men came from every American community.

Prairie style and craftsman style homes were built.  Thermostat controlled heat emerged in homes.  Inexpensive wood, like pine, was used for kitchen cabinets.   Hardwood floors were common.  Iconic shapes like scallops, sweeps, and curves were incorporated into interior design.  Primary colors such as red, white, and blue were widely used alongside muted military colors of navy, olive, brown, and tan.  Earth tones characterized home exteriors like navy blue, sunshine yellow, brick red, and light green.   This gave way to pastels for home interiors.  Mint green and aqua were the most popular wall colors of the decade.

Baby Boomers 1950s

America came home in the 1950s and the GI Bill provided low-cost loans for homes.  Soldiers return from World War II which led to a baby boom and a home building surge.  There was also an upsurge in professionals since the GI bill paid for college after military service.  Glamour and prosperity flooded the country as American consumerism swelled after a decade of restrictions.  Fifth Avenue advertising created razor-sharp targeted campaigns for mothers, fathers, and the newly formed age group of teenagers.

American housewives were eager for the new appliances to streamline their chores and to eat TV dinners in front of the tube.  American husbands ruled their castle driving family cars to amusement parks and atomic-age motels.   Teenagers marginalized from their parents, immersed themselves in Rock-and-Roll music, heart-throb magazines, and idol driven movies.   Toilet paper was even colored in pastels.

Homes in the 1950s had cast iron drains, asbestosis, and lead paint.  Exterior home colors featured golds, avocados, sages, and corals.  Wallpaper featuring fruit patterns and funky shapes was popular for all rooms.

Hollywood Regency was the style of the decade with meticulous, clean over the top design.  Modern and Scandinavian furniture designs were popular.  Interior walls conveyed youth, warmth, and joy through acrylic paints which gave color options previously impossible. Fashion, cars, graphic design, furniture, and wall décor were dripping with delicate pinks, blues, and greens.  Pastels peaked featuring walls with soft pink, powdery blue, mint green, and lemon yellow.

Mod Madness 1960s

The 1960s saw the Vietnam war and revolution shook the American Culture. Psychedelic palettes emerged. Corporate America embraced the geometric designs of Paul Rand. Movies were either Alfred Hitchcock thrillers or science fiction dystopia of nuclear proliferation and space exploration. Afros, Barbie dolls, bell bottoms, miniskirts, lava lamps, and smiley faces were popular. Beatlemania swept the nation. Followed by the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Andy Warhol. The generation gap merged with the civil rights movement and anti-war protests.

Colors reflective of the passion and action were bright colors in bold patterns. Mid Century Modern was the fashionable design which featured natural materials, clean lines, and emphasis on function. Open shelving on room dividers started. Graphic designs like black and white kitchens with pops of color from red or yellow appliances were popular. Furniture constructed from polypropylene could be matched to paint for wall colors. Pod shaped furniture, S-shaped couches, flat pack beds, bean bags and pod chairs proliferated. Jaw dropping patterns like psychedelic tie-dye, paisley, large floral designs, and ethnic prints wrapped furniture and clothing. Vibrant green, gold, orange and yellow were on everything from interior walls to clothing to cars. Exterior home colors were Wedgewood blue, olive green, rust red, harvest gold, and chocolate brown.

Gen X 1970s

Vivid color characterized the 1970s. Television screen technology became glowing technicolor. Game shows featuring the newest craze in appliances and vacations tantalized audiences. Sesame street shaped a new generation of youth buried under toys such as Hot Wheel, LEGO, Barbie, and Play-Doh. Everyone was growing Sea Monkeys. Electric dance floors and neon lights illuminated the disco and punk scenes. Fashions were flamboyant polyester tightly-fitting and brightly colored. Mexican peasant blouses, folk-embroidered Hungarian blouses, ponchos, capes, military surplus clothing, bell-bottoms, gauchos, frayed jeans, and ankle-length maxi dresses dominated fashion. This generation did not deny themselves the luxuries in life, but they did want to save the world from pollution and war.

The first Earth Day dominated this era bringing beige, rust, avocado, burnt orange, harvest gold, mustard yellow, and earthy brown into the home. These colors dominated wallpaper designs and permeated furniture and appliances. Yellow and orange toned wood was prominent. Plaids and stripes were popular. Suede and denim were preferred fabric choices. Exterior of homes had a Mid-Mod vibe with vibrant earth tone colors.

Millennials 1980s

The advent of personal computers pushed video gaming and information access into the home. Me, money, and materialism with fun, fantastical advertisements proliferated as companies competed for consumer dollars. Stylish people draped themselves in neon sweat suits and high-top sneakers with mullets in their hair. Fashion featured shoulder pads, scrunchies, leg warmers, fingerless gloves, plastic bangles, large funky earrings in neon shades, mesh accents, fanny packs, and pearl necklaces. Polaroid cameras, fax machines, floppy disks, and answering machines emerged. Swatch watches, cabbage patch dolls, Rubik’s cubes, and Walkmans defined the Preppies of the MTV generation.

Open kitchens, chintz, and saturated colors of red, purple, and cobalt blue were popular in 1980s home design. Postmodernism design meant nothing was off limits. Drapes featured all the bells and whistles from sweeping lines to matching valances. Laura Ashley defined the bedroom décor with huge florals. Transparent glass tables and video storage units emerged in living and dining rooms. Bathrooms favored ceramic tile and clear shower doors. Kitchens were hot white with Southwestern style accessories. Black cupboard pulls and hinges accented white cabinets. White or almond appliances backed onto pale seafoam green, hunter green, powder blue, or vibrant peach walls topped by a matching-color wallpaper border. Exterior homes were moss green, slate grey, pink beige, and grey brick.

Generation Y 1990s

Generation Y, a subset of the Millennials, characterized in diverse ways. On the negative side described as  prone to jump from job to job. Rewarded for minimal accomplishments such as participation trophies in competitive sports. Gen Y may simply be adapting to the constant technology changes that reshape the world at-large. Gen Y is open minded as evidenced by their supporting gay rights and minority rights. Self-expressive, liberal, optimistic, and receptive to innovative ideas defines their way of living. Grunge music and alternative rock music celebrated individualism over consumerism. Clothing features Hawaiian prints, zebra prints, bandanas, and baggy pants.

The 1990s muted color. Offices and homes adopted pale gray, beige, and light brown with mauve and burgundy accents. While popular television shows featured sets in muted colors, technology companies featured products in bright candy colors to stand out. Fashion turned to dark jeweled colors like rich blue, bright purple, deep green, and hot red. Interior walls painted dominantly beige, rustic golds, terra cotta, putty, sage, and earthy reds. Exterior homes feature the nineties grunge scene which brought darker, subdued colors into style like dark plum, forest green, dark brown, black, and deep red.

Generation Z 2000

Generation Z beset with reality shows and selfies, has turned their lives into thumbs up score cards. Skinny jeans, crocs, iPods, and smart phones defined the decade. VMA brought pop culture to small towns despite the Great Recession. Popular outfits for women included mesh handkerchief tops, box-pleated skirts, leather skirts, shiny pants, and sparkly shoes. For men, their look involved leather jackets, a statement dress shirt, and chunky shoes. Britney Spears, Green Day, and NSYNC were trendsetters for this type of style.

A Minimalist movement started after the Y2K craze passed. Relaxing colors such as light brown, tan, white and blue, blue-grey, and blue greens were extremely popular. Cerulean was referred to as the Color of the Millennium because it reflected a sense of peace, fulfillment, and a look forward to the future.

Generation Alpha 2010

Generation Alpha from 2010 to 2024. Gen Alpha will be the largest generation in history thanks to Covid making everyone stay home. For better or worse, Gen Alpha will spend around 75 percent of their time outside of school in a screen realm that is digital, social, mobile, and visual. Most will spend their school day on-screen. This invasive digital environment may limit the social IQ of this generation. Their jobs will have to be global, multi-sector, multi-career paths. Generation alpha has pester-power over their parents and are setting interior design trends.

While the parents in 2010 consider trendy interiors to feature rustic wood finishes, metallic or stone surfaces, polished copper and brass accents, and cozy deep green tropical plants with airy sun-bleached white walls. Flat design is also taking hold. Flat design is a minimalist design language or design style commonly used in graphical user interfaces, and in graphical materials such as posters, arts, guide documents and publishing products. Translated to home décor, flat design uses a design app for decorating, shopping, and renovating. Shades of grey were the most popular for interior wall painting.

Gen alpha kids have spoken, and the color of their generation is PINK. The origin has been reported as related to the Year of the Woman with respect to the 2018 House elections, in which a record 103 women were elected, ninety of whom were Democrats.  Combating Breast Cancer heralds a pink ribbon and all things pink. Anti-mansplaining and MeToo have claimed pink as their emblem. Millennial pink is a pale, rosy, pink color with the hex code #F3CFC6, made with almost equal parts magenta and yellow in the CMYK color scheme. From fluorescent pink to fuchsia, this bold, aggressive color has become deeply embedded in the American psyche as a shorthand for all things both feminine and femme.

Generation Alpha continues into 2020

The haute hue of 2020 is emerald, green. Cool toned grays replaced with warmer toned greige, beige, taupe, cream, and brown tones as the most popular neutral options. To be on trend try White Heron, First Light, Crystalline, Windmill Wings, Buxton Blue, Golden Straw, Thunder, Cushing Green, Flame Scarlet, Faded Denim, Biscay Green, Coral Pink, Saffron, Chive, and White.

Contact Us

Productive painting offers professional residential, commercial, and industrial interior and exterior painting services to the communities of Wall, NJ and throughout Monmouth County, NJ. Fully licensed and insured, Productive Painting Company is owner operated NJ LICENSE #13VH04439800.

Productive Painting
Call Now: (877) 298-9688

Hours of Operation

Monday – Friday 8AM-5PM
Saturday 8AM-1PM
Sunday Closed