British interior design is well known for its classic luxury, regal historic architecture and delicate elegance. However, as we all gear up for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, hanging our Union Jack bunting and organising street parties, it has us thinking… a lot has changed since the Queen's coronation in 1953.
We wonder how much British Interior Design has changed over the decades. Join us as we travel back through the years and see how British Interior design has evolved from the 1950s right up to now!
1950’s British Interior Design
Image Credit: My Bespoke Room
As the world huddled around their TVs for the first internationally broadcasted Coronation, it was a landmark moment. The same year the current affairs show Panorama aired and by the end of the 1950s there were regular television shows in virtually every genre. This made TV a massive part of family life and so our homes needed to be designed more practically, so everyone (including the corgis) could comfortably watch telly together.
TV wasn't the only new and exciting technology people wanted in their homes! Don’t forget that at this time, the 2nd World War was still fresh in everyone's minds and so the post-war boom led to an “out with the old and in with the new” attitude. People wanted to indulge themselves in the best technology and the boldest of colours, to make the most of their homes. Kitchens were filled with big chrome appliances: blenders, toasters, and swing bins in chrome or plastic and of course, a gigantic, brightly coloured fridge was essential.
Scandinavian design was all the rage thanks to its good quality, affordability and ease to be mass-produced. One popular design that we still use in our designs today is the butterfly chair used in the picture above.
The rise in Scandinavian style was a complete change from dark stained traditionally English Oak furniture, as it was simple and produced in lighter woods such as ash, birch and beech.
In fact, light colours were very popular, specifically pastel colours which we can attribute to the influence of the American diner-style with bubble-gum colours. Everyone wanted a jukebox to stand on their statement chequerboard vinyl floor!
Just when you think that may be a little overwhelming abstract patterned fabric, often with science-inspired imagery, would cover pillows, sofas or carpets. Sometimes bold animal prints would take centre stage or even floral prints set against polka dots. This created a surrealist feel that was embraced at the time and even led to the famous Salvador Dali 'lips' sofa.
The structure of the home was also built differently, specifically due to almost a third of homes in the UK suffering war damage, half a million completely demolished. This meant that new builds were smaller and more minimal, specifically with an open plan focus as it's a cheap way to maximise the feeling of space, especially as ceilings were lowered and windows made smaller too. No wonder the style was so maximalist, we’ve always said that it can make a space look bigger.
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1960’s British Interior Design
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In the Queen’s first decade on the throne, she had her last two of her four children and was the first reigning monarch to have children since 1857!
It was a happy time where everyone was into free love, flower power and pop music!
The previous decade’s love of American design seemed to expand thanks to hippy pilgrimages to India and Morocco where they brought the culture back to the UK in the form of ornaments, rugs and artwork. Bedrooms were tented with drapes made from saris, Indian styled bedspreads were laid out and lampshades were covered in beaded fabric for that hippy-harem look. Don’t forget the lava lamps, colour changing neon-fibre optic lamps, Moroccan-inspired lamps or the still popular paper lampshade.
Now we can’t talk about the 60s and lava lamps and not talk about psychedelic prints. Wallpaper was a massive statement of the decade with psychedelic swirls and paisley patterns in reds, purples, and oranges. The alternative was to pick up a paintbrush and do your own psychedelic mural. It was popular to use paints that glowed in the dark however the most popular home decor colours were vibrant reds, and purples or bright clashing colours like tangerine orange with fuchsia pink.
Fabrics also embraced bold repeat patterns in an art nouveau style or with the graphic images of pop art. Popular culture also included the rise of film and cinema. The line between fantasy and reality became blurred as rooms were based on film sets; scenes from popular films were even recreated in magazines like House and Garden, showing readers how to get the look.
One major difference in this decade was where they used wood in the home. Having wooden furniture was now a no-no but using it to create tongue and groove panelling or decorating the ceiling made much more sense to create the relaxing sauna feel. Floors however were covered with massive shag pile rugs and often had bean bag chairs dotted around the room alongside blow-up furniture. S and egg-shaped furniture were huge as it looks futuristic and modern but really flat-pack furniture was the revelation of the decade.
1970’s British Interior Design
Image Credit: Instagram - 70s house Manchester
The Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 1977, at this point she had spent more of her life as Queen than she did as a princess. How the time flies!
The early part of the ’70s was a bit of a ‘hangover’ from the ‘60s with bean bag chairs, lava lamps and shag carpeting all still prevalent in the home. However, as the years continued, the poor economy led to a ‘back-to-nature’ feel. Natural woods, florals, rattan and macramé become the main pillars of the British home.
Sadly this paved the way for coloured bathrooms that often used natural colours like greens and browns in all the wrong places… Don’t get us wrong, we all love some earthy tones but maybe not an avocado bath. It also brought the wall to wall wooden panelling with painfully obvious fake grain patterns, which is now increasingly unpopular. Also, although central heating started to take off in the 1970’s the big statement in people's homes was massive statement stone fireplaces, making the space feel like a luxury hunting lodge. On the other hand, the 70’s also brought some great home design techniques that are coming back into fashion currently.
We all love sunken living rooms as it feels so much cosier and snug! This created a sort of conversation pit for guests that makes people feel at home and comfortable. They were often adorned with big and bold geometric wallpaper shapes and bright, contrasting colours. Much the same as wallpaper, upholstery in the 70s tended toward busy prints with bright, and bold colours however it was less about geometric shapes and more about floral displays.
After all the ’70s are commonly associated with old age floral sofas, fringe lampshades and funky coloured lamps however, you may not know that pendant lighting and exposed brick was increasingly popular in this era, and both ideas are coming back into popularity now.
1980’s British Interior Design
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It may not seem all that long ago however, in this decade the Queen’s firstborn walked down the aisle with the beautiful Princess Diana. Yep, that was 40 years ago!
The 80’s still clung onto the natural elements in the home like floral sofas, curtains, bedspreads and chairs. Green was a very prominent colour and so tropical wallpaper prints were massive and houseplants became a must-have in our homes.
Muted greens were massive but soft pastel pinks and purples were also a huge trend back then. This was often the perfect backdrop for bold, minimalist and abstract art to catch your eye or it went the other way with people painting white nearby to make these pastel colours appear even softer. This led to the era of “Shabby Chic” which was a sophisticated but rustic approach to home design. Think upscale farmhouse meets modern dive bar, where all the grand wooden furniture looks worn but still classic and cosy.
Often included were glass-block walls. Used as either a window or a replacement shower screen, adding the stylistic chic to your home whilst also being incredibly functional by allowing more natural light in, while still giving you the privacy needed in your home.
And lastly, people wanted their homes to look bigger, they did this by using reflective materials like chrome and glass, and implementing more modern lighting fixtures.
1990’s British Interior Design
Image Credit: My Bespoke Room
In the 1990’s the Queen celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary with Prince Phillip as well as 4 decades on the throne.
The 90’s kept many of the muted colours and patterns from the 80’s but over the years, minimalist designs started to take centre stage. More neutral colours like white, and beige were massively popular as they were seen as contemporary and sophisticated with whitewashed brick walls being a popular choice.
These colours were paired with simple, minimal, Scandinavian furniture that was made from wood and wicker materials. Often orange-stained oak, pinewood and wicker crept indoors bringing the natural elements inside. Other furniture included futons, inflatable plastic furniture, Hollywood bulb lights around mirrors in classic 90s style and homes had a more elaborate TV and entertainment set up.
2000’s British Interior Design
Image Credit: My Bespoke Room
The beginning of a new millennium! The Queen had now become the 6th monarch to reach their Golden Jubilee.
The noughties saw a bit of a crossover between fashion and home decor as Zara became the first fashion brand to also provide home interior products. This made home decor more about the individual's style rather than what was trendy at the time, which makes home design of the decades a little more tricky to track!
Often people opted for modern but homely design but most people went for a feature wall, where people painted three walls plain and the final wall was decorated with a statement print or pattern which commonly resulted in damasks wallpaper.
Shabby chic made a comeback in the 00s with people opting for upcycled vintage items or deliberately distressed trendy items. This was often mixed in with more modern design and technology like flat-screen TVs which resulted in a modern traditionalist look and feel. More modern features included the popularity of french windows framing the garden. They were often dressed with houseplants nearby to blur the lines of the natural world with the home.
Another huge change in our homes was the growth of green lifestyles that came into practice. Energy-saving lights and bulbs become common practice in the home.
2010’s British Interior Design
Image Credit: My Bespoke Room
That’s right the Queen celebrated another Jubilee. This time there were two! First was her Diamond Jubilee, joining Queen Victoria as the only two monarchs to ever celebrate such an event. Then in 2017, the Queen enjoyed Saphire Jubilee, the very first monarch to ever celebrate this milestone.
So much happened in the world of home design during this decade! The styles people implemented were very eclectic and personal to them, especially thanks to the rise in social media platforms like Pinterest, where people can access incredible home decor themes from cultures and designers all around the world. Although expressing identity through the home was vital at this time there were still some consistent British interior design trends throughout.
People were always focused on making the most out of small spaces and still had a passion for a minimalist home, meaning storage solutions were a big deal. Many people continued the upcycling trends from the previous year and others went back to the love of shag rugs on wooden floors or terracotta tiles.
2020’s British Interior Design
Image Credit: My Bespoke Room
Right now as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of The Queen’s accession, we are still seeing continuous trends from our previous decade however we hope to see more of our customers stepping away from these trends and embracing the idea of decorating their homes to represent them.
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