7 Key Elements of Grandmillennial Design (Or Granny Chic)

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This popular throwback style comes from the pure nostalgia and warmth you felt when visiting your granny’s house.  But Millennials are now embracing what is old and making it new and fresh again.  Think your grandmother’s vintage china and needlepoint pillows and then combining them with a hip, modern look.  That’s what Grandmillennial design is all about – using inspiration from your grandparent’s home and creating a modern design that’s all your own.

This style has been trending -amongst millennials in particular – partly for the nostalgia of a past era, and partly for increased interest in a more environmentally friendly home –  reusing and recycling quality pieces is not only more sustainable but older pieces are higher quality so they last longer.

This style is also a rebellion against their parent’s mass-produced furniture and the monochromatic, minimalist design styles of midcentury modern.  For lovers of Grandmillennial style – minimalism is so last decade.  This style favors playful collections – antique plates, colored vases, vintage china, and other collectibles showcased on pretty shelves or bookcases.

Grandmillennial style – also referred to as Granny Chic – is inspired by vintage pieces that have meaning and sentimental value. It is a decorating style that allows your personality to shine, it’s fun and playful and showcases your family history and your unique story.

Grandmillennial Design

This style of decorating combines vintage and modern while striking a balance between the two. Mixing patterns and colors to avoid being too traditional is a key element. Think florals, plaids and toile prints featured on curtains, upholstery, and wall coverings.  Mixing patterns is popular but keeping within a color scheme or key colors to avoid going from granny chic to hot mess.  Also popular are chinz, pleated lamps, skirted tables, vintage china, needlepoint pillows and fancy trim on furniture.

Other key elements are patterned wallpaper, bright fabrics and colors, use of mixed materials including brass, porcelain, wicker, rattan and dark wood.  The theme is using vintage objects but with fresh designs to bridge the gap between two eras.  Reusing or recycling pieces is favored as well for an environmentally conscious style that favors quality pieces over mass-produced items.

Not your Granny’s wallpaper

Wallpaper has made a comeback in recent years and fits perfectly with this decor. But it’s not the stuffy style you might remember from years past – think bigger and bolder patterns and colors to make it more modern and fresh.  Popular designs are florals, botanical, bamboo stripes or graphic patterns.  Or you might consider a smaller vintage pattern mixed with more modern accents.  Pair wallpaper with lighter, modern furniture and bright fabrics to make rooms feel cozy but still fresh.


Granny chic favors darker wood furniture made of cherry, mahogany, walnut, rosewood and wenge.  Kitchen cabinets made with dark wood give your kitchen a Grandmillennial foundation. You can install paneling and flooring with dark woods when you remodel or upgrade a room. But limit the number of dark wood pieces in the room to keep it balanced. Use dark wood in a room that has plenty of light from windows or lamps and add lighter modern details.

Furniture is elegant yet comfortable  – think an oversized sofa in luxe velvet to anchor the living room with vintage side tables.  Wicker or rattan furniture is also a popular look for granny chic.  Accessories such as pleated lamps, needlepoint art, quilted bedding and unique light fixtures complete the vibe.  Display collectibles including vintage pieces or Grandma’s china in new ways.

Needlepoint and Embroidered Pillows

Needlepoint is having a moment. It’s back – but with a twist.  Cheeky slogans, bold designs and fun graphics are taking over from the ‘Home Sweet Home’ pillows of granny’s house. Needlepoint is trending and it’s a mainstay of Grandmillenial design.  You may have collected some needlepoint or embroidery pillows from your family that you can mix in with more modern patterns and pieces.  But crafty types are also making their own needlepoint or embroidery decor.  Find kits online and make your own accessories – great for pillows, wall hangings or rugs.  Embroidery companies like Create the Culture are bringing a modern vibe with their kits and artwork.

Dining Room

Grandmillenial design takes the formal dining room of yesteryear and gives it a modern twist.  Some of the elements you might incorporate include crown molding, elegant lighting, wainscoting and a formal table with grandmother’s china. Choose furniture with an antique look and feel but combine them with more modern pieces or mismatched pieces for a unique look.  For a modern take, opt for color or bold patterned wallpaper on the walls.  Feel free to mix patterns as well – this style is not shy on color and patterns.

Entertainment is key in the dining room so the space should be functional but fun – a stylish bar cart and sideboard with your collectibles on display. Showcase vases, china, silverware and centerpieces in a creative and unique way.  Antique plates hanging on a bold or patterned wall are a popular trend for this style.


For the kitchen design, choose hardware made of copper, brass, or chrome which adds a throwback feel to the space. Mix retro appliances with modern ones. For example, a modern stove paired with an old-fashioned toaster and mixer.  Display vintage china and collectibles on shelves and decorate with some vintage touches – mix patterns in the kitchen with window treatments and a vintage braided rug.

Vintage Finds

Millennials are splashing out for vintage items including antiques, wallpaper, vases, and furniture.  This trend is fueled by an interest in vintage design and using recycled materials. The use of vintage and modern design is contradictory. Chintz or floral fabric is very popular on walls, window treatments, and furnishings.  Chintz was used to decorate the White House by Jacqueline Kennedy and on the set of the TV series Designing Women and now it’s back in new fresh ways. Slipcovers are also making a comeback in this style with pleats, monograms, and cutouts. Fringe and lace are used on curtains and upholstered treatments to add to the vintage look.

Grand millennial style will continue to grow – we’re seeing elements of it starting off in one room and eventually the whole house. It allows your unique story to be told with heirloom pieces mixed with your own modern style. It’s affordable  – especially if you inherited some cool pieces from your grandparents and is sustainable – reuse or recycle pieces and combine them in fresh modern ways for a personal style.

Featured image credit Photo by Mike