What are the color palettes that have defined the last century?

What are the color palettes that have defined the last century?




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Photo: Adobe/Reproduction / Casa.com

Each decade is characterized by its own set of trends and color palettes – after all, don’t you remember when millennial pink was all the rage just a few years ago?

When you imagine your childhood home (or your grandparents’ home), memories of a avocado color fridge or salmon bathroom tile come quickly to mind? Well, that’s because colors like these tell a story and reflect specific moments in time.

And now, get ready for another trip down memory lane, because here we’ve rounded up the dominant shades from the last century and tips on how to wear some of these popular palettes from decades gone by without looking dated. Did you like the idea? Check it all out below:

1920: Neutrals inspired by nature



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Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

Greens, beiges and creams dazzled the bungalows and artisan houses of the 1920s.



decor 1920

decor 1920

Photo: Old House Journal/Reproduction / Casa.com

“This was a time when society was feeling very free, and people were exploring fashion in a whole new way,” says designer Philip Thomas Vanderford of Studio Thomas James.

Think less about formality and more about embrace things in their natural state.

1930: Art Deco jewel tones



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Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

Art Deco landmarks including the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building made their debut during the 1930s, and art deco jewelry shades – such as reds, yellows and turquoise blues – were present alongside metallic accents.



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Photo: DecorAid/Reproduction / Casa.com

“I think the black and silver details of this era are heavily influenced by this industrial era,” says designer Bryan Yates of Yates Desygn. “The 1930s were also a time of great hardship for many, and the bold tones of that era seem almost rebellious.”

1940: Modern, simple tones



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Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

Whites, creams and dusty pastels were prominent when World War II finally came to an end.

“I believe the decade’s muted color palette reflected The peace and serenity that everyone finally felt,” says Yates. On the other hand, perhaps the aesthetic was simply a reaction to the boldness of the previous decade.



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Photo: Reproduction / Dezeen / Casa.com

“Whenever society or style goes strongly in one direction, as we saw with jewel tones in the 1930s, the pendulum always swings the other way,” comments Vanderford. “This was a time when society began to explore more modern forms of architecture, and war required everyone to become more efficient.”

1950: Sweet pastries



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Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

Candy Colors were all the rage in the 1950s, and pastels like pink, turquoise and oliveburst onto the scene with full force in homes and businesses – even kitchen utensils got into this colorful action.

Designer Annie Elliott of Annie Elliott Design says a dark shade can also help ground these sweet colors and make them more current.



1950's kitchen

1950’s kitchen

Photo: Reproduction / Pinterest / Casa.com

“For example, light turquoise looks fabulous with chocolate brown or red, and pink is always great with dark olive green,” she notes. Alternatively, consider pairing these shades with a bold white. As Elliott puts it, “Using less color and more white makes pastels look fresh and new.”

1960: Groovy Mid-Mod Tones



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Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

psychedelic colors how avocado green, black and white extended beyond the fashion world in the 1960s; they appeared on walls, furniture and fabrics as well. If you like color but don’t like fluorescents, simply “turn the brightness down a bit,” advises Elliott. “You’ll be surprised how many colors you can use.”



Decor 1960

Decor 1960

Photo: Lonny/Reproduction / Casa.com

Alternatively, keep your goods and furniture neutral and opt for vibrant details is another viable and contemporary approach.

1970: Earth Neutrals



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Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

Gold, mustard, rust, pumpkin and others earthy browns arrived in the homes of the 1970s, where, after the Vietnam War, they also claimed home appliances such as refrigerators and installed accessories, such as bathroom floor and tiles.



Decor 1970

Decor 1970

Photo: Country Living Magazine/Reproduction / Casa.com

“While the psychedelic colors of the ’60s were fun and bubbly, what people really needed was a home that represented calm and relaxation,” notes designer Malka Helft of Think Chic Interiors. Plastic details, which made waves in the 1960s, were no longer new, and so “people were ready to return to nature,” adds Helft.

1980: Postmodern primary colors



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Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

The ’80s were, in part, characterized by Memphis-inspired blues, yellows and reds, as well as a bevy of neon hues. “The design was following the social changes of the time with more acceptance of unconventional and incompatible items coming together to create a concept of cohesive design“says designer and color expert Kristin Bartone of Bartone Interiors.



Decor 1980

Decor 1980

Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

Bartone believes that strong primary colors are always in fashion and can be used to varnish furniture or how upholstery options. “People still want that ‘shake’, but in smaller pieces,” says color expert and textile designer Lori Weitzner.

1990: Beautiful beiges



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Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

The 1990s were all about the Tuscan colors: beige, sage, terracotta and earthy reds, which marks a strong contrast with the vigor of the previous decade. “The McMansions have arrived – and with them, the longing for rustic elegance and the neutral and natural colors of the Italian countryside”, explains Weitzner.



Decor 1990

Decor 1990

Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

Today, Bartone continues to incorporate these tones into the serene spaces of his design, including bedrooms and bathrooms. “These earth tones are calming and calming and can be used on a variety of materials,” she says. “I like to see them in your natural state of materialitysuch as natural stone floors or granite countertops.”

2000s: Browns and Blues



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Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

Spa and vacation-inspired blues were ubiquitous in the 2000s, while beiges began to give way to darker browns. Brown wood finishes are still in vogue today, notes designer Layton Campbell of JLayton Interiors.



Décor 2000

Décor 2000

Photo: Lonny/Reproduction / Casa.com

“Consider a spa blue for a linen or bouclé fabric, adding texture but with easy, playful colors.”

Annie Sloan, paint and color expert and creator of Chalk Paint, suggests incorporating these hues alongside what she calls a hue” disruptive” – think hot pink, vibrant orange or bright green.

2010: The heyday of gray



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Photo: Reproduction/Apartment Therapy / Casa.com

Gray was the name of the game in the early 2010s. But towards the end of the decade, things started to lighten, with mint and pink tones appearing. Gray appeared as a alternative to beige tones from the 1990s, explains designer Sara Hillery of Sara Hillery Interior Design.

“As designers and consumers appreciated the comfort of beige, they started looking for a little more variety“, she says.



Décor 2010

Décor 2010

Photo: Reproduction / My Domaine / Casa.com

Gray can look great in both modern and traditional spaces, says designer Ahmad AbouZanat of PROJECT AZ. “Try a monochromatic look with various shades of gray, or go for warmer shades,” he suggests.

AbouZanat also likes to use gray as Background by allowing accent colors to shine through. LH Designed designer Linda Hayslett uses grays with mints and pinks in her own designs, to this day.

* Via Apartment Therapy

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