These Awful Home Decor Trends Of the Past Three Decades Are Definitely Out

Like fashion, home decor trends change every year. But the difference is that home decor stays around for years after the trend has ended — it’s not as easy to refurnish an entire home as it is to buy a new shirt. If you’ve ever glanced at your overstuffed chair and thought, “Why do I still have that?” you know what we mean.

Just because these were the “in” fads doesn’t mean that they worked. Whether it’s the sponge paint of the ’90s, the bubble chairs of the 2000s, or the millennial pink of the 2010s, these trends are no longer “in.” Spare your home from the worst decor fads of the past three decades.

Sponge Painted Walls – 1990s

A person sponge-paints a wall with blue paint.
Pinterest/Mignon M
Pinterest/Mignon M

If you were into crimping your hair in the late ’90s, then you probably remember sponge painting. With a giant sponge, anyone could transform their plain walls into…something. Then they dabbed on another color so the walls could have a cloudy, messy texture.

Does sponge painting look good now? No. Did it ever look good? Arguably not. And it looks far worse when dressers and sinks are sponged in multiple colors, like the seats of a public bus. To put it lightly, this design hurts the eyes. And it somehow makes your home seem dirty.

Motivational Signs – 2010s

A motivational sign says,
Pinterest/Nichole Fiona
Pinterest/Terry Delahunty

Would Pinterest have existed in the 2010s without “Dream, Believe, Achieve”? Motivational posters were everywhere during that decade, and to an extent, they still are. “You Can And You Will”–but please don’t.

Nothing says Instagram obsession like “Don’t Quit Your Day Dream” in cursive script on a pastel pink canvas. You’ll receive more likes if you handwrite “Never Give Up!” in that cursive calligraphy every motivational quote uses. You know the one. It’s on every mug and notebook at Target. We still don’t know how everyone decided on the same font.

Lime Green – 2000s

A kitchen features lime green cabinets.

A muted green can lend a sense of calm to any space. However, the 2000s featured “modern” home decor designs of blinding lime green. This green would appear on furniture, walls, appliances–everywhere it should never have been. To make matters worse, some designers would pair lime green with highlighter orange!

Those who incorporate lime green into their space should prepare for the room to become “the lime green room.” That’s what this color does: it takes over every aspect of the room. Once you see lime green, you only focus on that, and not the many other features that homeowners take pains with.

Carpeted Bathrooms – 1990s

A restroom has blue carpet and pink toilet seats.

“Carpeted bathroom” sounds like a two-word horror story. But believe it or not, this design choice became a trend in the ’90s. If you want to create a mold farm, install a carpeted bathroom. Otherwise, avoid it like the plague.

During the 1950s, carpet was a luxury item. The product became more common after the post-war boom, but many people still saw it as a luxury. That might be why some carpeted bathrooms still hang around. Carpeted bathrooms are a recipe for dirty disasters.

Millennial Pink – 2010s

White headphones, keyboard, mouse, and notebook rest on a pastel pink desk.

There’s an official term for that shade of pink–the one that decorated every tumbler, pillow, and bedsheet throughout the 2010s. Since no one could agree on exactly what shade it was, they gave it a name: Millennial Pink, or sometimes “Tumblr Pink.”

Do we even need to explain why this color is on the list? It’s overdone. Yes, it’s pretty, but having pink everything is just…a lot. The same goes for rose gold. Since everyone seems to pair millennial pink with white, shake things up a bit by adding some other colors. Any color. Literally anything else. Please.

Bubble Chairs – 2000s

A bubble chair by Christian Daninos is exhibited in the
Pinterest/kylie van hoy

Installing a hanging chair is already a risky move because you have to fit a traditionally outdoor furniture piece into an indoor space. But the bubble chair from the 2000s didn’t make this easier. Bubble chairs were plastic bulbs with a silver rim, which usually hung from a portable pole like a plastic globe.

The bubble chair was invented by Eero Aarnio in 1968, but it fit perfectly into the modernized home style of the mid- to late-2000s. Unfortunately, most bubble chairs aren’t comfortable. You have to shove pillows into the sphere, and even then, it doesn’t support your back. Design-wise, these are just unnecessary.

Overstuffed Furniture – 1990s

Lisa Fabrizio enjoys a comfy overstuffed chair in a quiet corner at Blueberry's Bakery & Cafe in Littleton.
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

If your lounge chair looks like it’s about to explode, it’s probably from the ’90s. The idea is that the more stuffed your chair is, the comfier it’ll be. But that’s often untrue, especially when dealing with leather chairs. Overstuffed furniture feels like sitting on a rock.

Fortunately, the 2000s and 2010s introduced sleek reclining chairs to replace the overstuffed trend. A nice ottoman and recliner can complement any room, whereas an overstuffed lounge chair consumes the space. It also always manages to look old, no matter how new the furniture is.

Minimalism – 2010s

Minimalist Fumio Sasaki works on his laptop in his apartment.
David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

While some design trends were growing more complicated in the 2010s, others were striving to become less complicated. Minimalism is striving to have as few belongings and furnishings as possible. You can thank Marie Kondo’s bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, for this trend.

Can you get by in a minimalist space? Sure. But a single wooden nightstand with a crystal tower on top isn’t flattering. Neither is all-white furniture, barren rooms, or sporadic succulents. Minimalist homes don’t seem authentic. They don’t look like homes; they look like modern art pieces (and not the good ones).

Feature Walls – 2000s

A reddit user organized their Harry Potter artwork into a feature wall.
Pinterest/Plascon SA

Also called accent walls, feature walls shoved every wall decoration into one cramped space. In theory, accent walls would pack a punch. And they did; they made people look like they could only hammer nails into a single wall.

Balance and symmetry are integral to interior design, and a feature wall denies both. They’re cluttered and look more like an antique store than a home. The only way to pull off a feature wall is to…well, not make one at all. Do everyone a favor by spreading out your wall decorations.

Mason Jars Everywhere – 2010s

Home owners stand under a mason jar chandelier.
Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Although mason jars appeared in the ’90s, they skyrocketed in popularity during the 2010s. Mason jar drinks. Mason jar bowls. Mason jar plant holders. Hanging mason jars. People couldn’t walk into a bar or coffee shop without drowning in mason jar decor.

In terms of usefulness, mason jars only work as cups. They make inconvenient bowls and worse planters since they can’t drain. Using mason jars as both decorations and glasses is far too much. They’re so over-used that they’ve become boring.

Beaded Wall Curtains – 1990s

A beaded wall curtain has bells on the end.
Pinterest/Lisa Kenkel
Pinterest/Lisa Kenkel

As a cheaper alternative to woven wall hangings, beaded wall curtains came into play in the ’90s. In theory, bead curtains are a fun choice. They’re customizable, come in bright colors, and are easy to make yourself. They sound great–if they weren’t 100% pointless.

For one thing, beaded curtains don’t offer any privacy, which is the entire point of them. They also replace a door with a louder, more annoying alternative. Have you ever tried to navigate your way through a beaded curtain in the middle of the night? It’s a horrifying experience that’ll wake up the whole house.

From All Color To No Color – 2010s

A white kitchen features a counter, oven, and wreath on the wall.

While the 2000s were filled with bold, nearly overwhelming design colors, the 2010s featured the opposite: no colors. White-on-white became a YouTube vlogger staple, especially in kitchens. If there was any color at all, it would be the stainless steel stove or the bronze faucet.

The problem with the white-on-white look is that it’s…well, boring. It feels more like a museum where you shouldn’t touch anything rather than a home. Some people gave the space a few plants or geometric-shaped decorations, which only give it a spaceship appearance.

Damask – 1990s

A living room features a damask wall.

Is it a flower? Is it a star? No, it’s damask. This luxury pattern from the 14th century resurfaced in the 1990s on wallpaper, bedsheets, and linens. Even some jackets, dresses, and shirts sported this pattern. It was like the millennial pink of the ’90s.

Some homes have still clung to this design well into the 2010s. If this is you, we give you full permission to let it go. Shake up your home with some palm trees or floral designs. But please spare us from damask. It’s everywhere. It’s encroaching. We will never be free of damask.

Fairy Lights – 2000s

Fairy lights are hung above a bed in a bedroom.

In the 2000s, Christmas lights stayed up year-round. Small strings of lights, called fairy lights, hung above beds, mirrors, and sofas. When fairy lights are used tastefully, they can add a warm glow to a room. But the 2000s introduced piles of fairy lights that look like dying fireflies.

This “fairy magic trend” bled into the 2010s, where it somehow became more intense. Fairy lights were tangled over beds to transform the comfiest furniture in the house into a nuisance. If you want to install fairy lights, use them sparingly and keep them on the wall.

Bare Light Bulbs – 2010s

Edison bulbs hang from the ceiling in a kitchen.

Nothing says “hipster bar in the 2010s” like hanging Edison light bulbs. Bare light bulbs became the rage during that decade, often hanging off of strings in a row. And to be fair, it does provide a vintage, steampunk look.

Like many popular trends, Edison light bulbs became boring with overuse. But there are other reasons not to install this decor. These lights are very fragile, and although you can dim them, they often appear too bright. Because they emit warm light, you have to pair them with dark wood, or else it’ll be too much.

Fast Furniture – 2000s

A man holds up a foldable chair and speakers while in line.
Anton NovoderezhkinTASS via Getty Images
JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images

As things grew more expensive over the decades and college students became more broke, the era of “fast” buying began. Fast furniture is the act of buying a cheap furniture set, knowing that you’ll throw it out when you move. Theoretically, it saves money–except that it doesn’t. Replacing cheap sofas every year costs the same as buying a long-term sofa that lasts several years.

Cost aside, the fast furniture trend settles for too little. Thrift shopping will earn you better furniture (often for a reasonable price) that lasts far longer and looks better. If you don’t have to break your back on that stiff futon, why would you?

Shabby Chic – 2000s

A mint kitchen table is distressed with a watering can of flowers on it.
Pinterest/sharla vallee
Pinterest/sharla vallee

Ah, shabby chic: the combo of white shiplap, distressed rustic furniture, and pastel accessories. This decor appeared everywhere in the late 2000s, and to an extent, it still remains popular in the 2010s. The problem with shabby chic is that when you use it, you have to redo your entire home.

Shabby chic debuted when modern decor, such as stainless steel appliances and large white kitchens, was already in style. The result was this odd mix between countryside furniture and modern white tile. It wasn’t a good look. Fortunately, the 2010s improved shabby chic by making it less vintage and more modern.

Wallpaper Borders – 1990s

A 1970s kitchen features a yellow wallpaper border next to the ceiling.
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

If you’re not familiar with wallpaper borders, picture them as washi tape for your wall. Wallpaper borders are strips of designs that divide walls in the middle, or they separate the ceiling from the wall (as if that needs to be done).

Most wall borders from the ’90s featured animal, plant, and wildlife designs. In other words, they’re the tackiest feature ever to distinguish a wall. You could pull off a wall border if you use a tasteful design that matches the wall. Otherwise, you risk making the wall look like a nursery–unless that’s what you’re aiming for!

The Tuscan Style – 2000s

Italian home decor features dark wood in a kitchen.
Pinterest/DeDe Wedekind
Pinterest/DeDe Wedekind

If you weren’t going modern or shabby chic in the early 2000s, you might have opted for an Italian villa look. The Tuscan countryside style featured bronze pans, dark wooden furniture, and limestone tiles. Basically brown, brown, and more brown.

Diana Blasziewicz, an associate with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, put it best. “I think the major issue with Tuscan design is that the homes were overdone and oversaturated,” she told Realtor. “Less is more” does not exist with the Italian villa trend.

Painted Floors – 2010s

A wooden floor is slowly painted to white.

There was a brief moment in the 2010s when painted floors seemed like a good idea. Indeed, interior design lends itself to many DIY options. But this is not one of them. Unless you understand what you’re doing, painting your wooden floor may end up looking awful.

First off, painting your floor is back-breaking work. It’s way worse than painting your walls. Second, certain woods react better for certain paints. Not only is floor painting a hard task, but it can wash out a room if the walls and floor are the same color. It’s just a “no” all around.