My parents' former living room sofa, which sits in the basement of their new home, has been part of the family for longer than I have. Dating back to 1987, it not only makes an appearance in the background of many of my baby photos but was also the first real piece of furniture that my then 30-something parents bought together upon purchasing a home. Over the past three-plus decades, it’s remained a fixture in their lives.
My own couch, on the other hand, isn’t quite as storied, nor are the other pieces of furniture in my apartment. And that’s more than OK with me. As an avid decorator, I enjoy switching up my space’s look whenever possible, constantly scouring Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and other resale shops to snag stylish furniture at manageable price points. I guess you could say that many of the pieces in my home therefore boast some kind of history, though their past generally remains unknown to me. Regardless, they certainly aren’t items I plan to keep around for the next three decades—nor does that seem to be the expectation for my generation.
Add in 2020’s extra layer of stay-at-home mandates and regulations regarding social gatherings, and the desire to make our little corners of the world feel that much more cozy and special only amplifies.
Sure, not all millennials abide by this “buy and sell” philosophy, nor do all of my peers share my same level of enthusiasm for stumbling upon the perfect piece. I’ll never forget the look of shock on my friend’s face when she saw all of the excess furniture finds I once stored in my studio apartment’s walk-in closet, for example. But for many, rearranging, revamping, and buying and selling furniture is a pastime in itself. Then add in 2020’s extra layer of stay-at-home mandates and regulations regarding social gatherings, and the desire to make our little corners of the world feel that much more cozy and special only amplifies.
Pre-pandemic, many of my friends already spent their weekends wallpapering, painting, and just in general zhuzhing up their homes and rentals, documenting the journey on social media. Over the past few months, the posts about decorating and redecorating have only multiplied. Bookshelves are being listed for sale, kitchen cabinets are receiving new hardware, and patios are finally being styled—and that’s all in addition to your typical “check out my new work from home spot” announcements.
So how did millennials become the makeover generation? Of course, Instagram—and Pinterest, which I, for one, still swear by for design inspiration—constantly bombard us with new ideas, images, and product links, making it easy to replicate a look at the click of a button. While older generations may have turned to catalogs, coffee table books, and visits to actual friends’ houses, the digital world—and the “saves,” swipe-ups, and promo codes that come with it—provides us with 24/7 redecorating fodder.
Our homes—even prior to the days of quarantine—were never just a place to crawl into bed at night; they’re where we allow ourselves to get creative, embrace new trends, and be ourselves.
We also move around all the time, and many of us live or have lived with roommates. Investment pieces often don’t seem so worthwhile—let alone feasible–in communal spaces or cramped bedrooms. In my 29 years, I’ve lived in six post-college apartments in three different cities, never with the intention of staying in any one rental for more than a couple of years. But that’s ok. New apartments may have required parting with pieces that no longer fit a space or would be too difficult to move, but they also meant new opportunities for decorating schemes.
But finally, technological developments and logistics aside, the truth is that many of us simply enjoy redecorating in some shape or form. For millennials, design has become a full-fledged hobby, whether we’re building out our plant collections or constantly impressing our friends with DIYs. We’re not a “buy it once and call it a day” crowd, but at the same time, we’re also savvy, thrifty, and creative. We like seeing what we can recreate for less, boasting about how little we paid for that secondhand designer armchair, or sharing how we make an IKEA piece truly shine.
Our homes—even prior to the days of quarantine—were never just a place to crawl into bed at night; they’re where we allow ourselves to get creative, embrace new trends, and be ourselves. And in this chaotic world, that’s kind of what we need.