Young person home

The concept of home has always been a deeply personal one, reflecting not just our physical needs but also our evolving tastes, values, and experiences. For past generations, the idea of a dream home may have been completely different to someone starting their home journey in the modern world. Interior design is undergoing a significant shift, driven largely by the preferences and realities faced by Millennials and Gen Z. Below, interior design expert Sylvia James at analyses what defines Millennial and Gen Z homes.

Millennials, the generation born between roughly 1981 and 1996, came of age during a period of significant economic and technological change. Witnessing the Great Recession first-hand instilled in them a sense of pragmatism and a desire for financial security. This, coupled with a growing emphasis on environmental consciousness, has shaped their approach to homeownership. They are more likely to prioritise functionality and adaptability over flamboyant displays of wealth. For them, a dream home is not just about aesthetics but about creating a space that can seamlessly integrate with their work-life balance, evolving technology needs, and commitment to sustainability.

Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, is the first truly digital-native generation. They have grown up immersed in a world of constant connectivity and a globalised marketplace. This has resulted in a generation that is both fiercely individualistic and deeply connected to online communities. Their approach to homeownership reflects this duality. They crave spaces that showcase their unique personalities and celebrate diverse cultural influences but equally value opportunities for interaction and co-living arrangements. The financial realities of a potentially even harsher housing market than their predecessors have also shaped their views. Gen Z prioritises flexibility and adaptability, embracing the concept of impermanence and prioritising spaces that can easily be transformed to fit new living situations.

While Millennials and Gen Z may have distinct approaches to home design and ownership, there are some common threads binding them. Both generations are environmentally conscious, seeking sustainable solutions and ways to reduce their impact. Technology plays a central role in their lives, and their ideal homes seamlessly integrate with smart features and provide dedicated spaces for work and digital engagement. Ultimately, for both Millennials and Gen Z, the concept of ‘home’ extends beyond just bricks and mortar. It’s about creating a space that reflects their individuality, creates a sense of belonging, and allows them to live comfortably and authentically in an ever-changing world. Let’s delve deeper and explore how these core values translate into the specific trends shaping home design for these two dynamic generations.

Minimalism Vs Maximalism

A defining difference between how these two generations decorate their homes lies in the level of things in their home décor styles. Millennials gravitate towards minimalism, favouring clean lines, uncluttered spaces, and a focus on functionality. Open floor plans are very common in millennial homes as well as sleek furniture choices, and a neutral colour palette. This reflects their desire for practicality and a calm environment.

Gen Z natives, on the other hand, embrace maximalism. They are not afraid of bold colour schemes, eclectic patterns, and a curated collection of statement pieces. Gen Zers tend to go big with mismatched furniture, vintage finds, and quirky objects that tell a story. Their homes are a reflection of their personalities and act as a celebration of individuality and self-expression.

Sustainable Swaps and DIY Dreams

Both of these generations are environmentally conscious. However, their approach to sustainable decor differs. Millennials have potentially more established budgets, and like to invest in eco-friendly furniture and materials.

Gen Z, known for their resourcefulness, are champions of DIY projects and upcycling existing pieces. They breathe new life into thrift store finds, creating unique and sustainable decor on a budget.

Bringing Life to the Home Through Colour

Millennial colour palettes tend to lean more towards muted and calming tones. Think shades of grey, beige, and white, accented with pops of pastel or greenery. This creates a sense of peace and tranquillity within the home. Millennials may lean towards painting a feature wall for a pop of colour.

Gen Z, however, isn’t afraid to get bold with colours. Their colour choices are often more diverse, featuring jewel tones, earthy hues, and even pops of neon. Moody blues and deep greens are also popular choices, reflecting their desire to create a unique and personal atmosphere.

Functionality Within the Home

The focus on functionality isn’t solely driven by aesthetics for either generation. Millennials, having entered the workforce during the recession, tend to prioritise spaces that can adapt to their needs. Convertible furniture choices and multifunctional rooms that can seamlessly transition from a home office to a guest bedroom are highlights of a millennial home.

Gen Z, known for their digital-native status, tend to focus on tech-integrated living. Smart home features, hidden charging stations, and designated workspaces with ample outlets are all high on their priority list. They seamlessly blend technology into their living spaces to create a comfortable and efficient environment.

The Influence of Global Inspiration

Social media has exposed both generations to a wider range of design influences. Millennials, who came of age during the rise of travel blogging, often incorporate elements from various cultures into their homes. Some examples include Moroccan rugs, Scandinavian furniture, and a touch of Japanese minimalism.

Gen Z natives, with their global online communities, embrace a more eclectic aesthetic. They might have a vintage Parisian poster hanging next to a piece of indigenous artwork, reflecting their appreciation for diverse cultural expressions. This creates a space that’s both visually interesting and a testament to their global perspective.

The Rental Revolution

The effect of the housing market differ significantly for Millennials and Gen Z. Many Millennials are facing student loan debts and a competitive market. These people are opting to rent for longer. This has led to a rise in renter-friendly design trends. Removable wallpaper, peel-and-stick backsplashes, and modular furniture allow for personalisation without damaging the property.

Gen Z, entering a similar housing market with potentially even higher costs, is embracing the concept of impermanence. They prioritise flexible furniture arrangements and lightweight decor that can easily adapt to new spaces. This reflects their desire for mobility and a willingness to explore different living situations.

The Importance of Community

While both generations value their home spaces, the concept of ‘home’ extends beyond just their four walls. Millennials, known for their social connections, often prioritise living in walkable areas that are close to restaurants, bars, and green spaces. This fosters a sense of community and allows for easy interaction with friends and neighbours.

Gen Z, with their digital connections, values co-living arrangements and communal spaces. Shared work areas, rooftop gardens, and common lounges provide opportunities for interaction and collaboration, providing a sense of belonging beyond the immediate family unit. This reflects their desire for connection and a collaborative way of living.

Final Thoughts

While there are distinct trends, it’s important to remember these are just starting points. Both Millennials and Gen Z are influenced by a variety of sources, from social media to vintage shops. The key takeaway is that personal style reigns supreme. There’s a growing appreciation for blending elements from different aesthetics, creating homes that are both functional and full of personality. So, whether you’re a minimalist Millennial or a maximalist Gen Z, embrace what makes your home uniquely you.