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“Undecorating” is Decorating Style of 21st Century

Posted by Laurence Lok on

Victorian sofa in undecorated room

A reproduction Victorian sofa sits alongside a modernist coffee table in an "undecorated" room. Image via apartmenttherapy.com

Following the Great Depression, the modernist furniture movement featured a minimalist style with hard edges and practicality. European trends were factors in how modernist design evolved in the United States, replacing elaborate Victorian chairs and tables with simple, traditional pieces for the living room, kitchen and dining room.

After the recession of 2008, many interior design experts and furniture enthusiasts alike wondered how modernism would evolve in the 21st century. Similar to the modernist furniture following the Great Depression, new furniture designs today focus on simplicity. However, experts say that the trend has evolved as a result of “undecorating.” More homeowners are stripping down their living spaces and furnishing them with pieces found at auctions, from Chippendale chairs to reproduction furniture.

An Eclectic Mix

“There’s no longer any good or bad,” Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, founder of the Apartment Therapy home design blog, told the New York Times. “That new openness is the story. We’re all swirling around together.”

Although the pieces found in modernist rooms today are simple and practical, they are used in abundance. Homeowners who have taken to “undecorating” collect a wide range of pieces to create an eclectic look and give their spaces a welcoming feel. Mixing and matching fabrics is also common.

DIY Spirit

“[Amateurs] aspire to a certain level of interior design, but professional help is beyond their reach,” Christiane Lemieux, “Undecorate” author, told the Times. “So they go at it their own way. Now they’re the authorities.”

Only a fraction of homeowners hire a professional interior designer to redo their rooms. More people are taking their own initiative and using their own creative license to make the most of their spaces, creating pieces out of existing furniture. A number of homeowners are mixing and matching Ikea pieces with classic, antique reproduction furniture to create a unique, inventive look.

Experts say that homeowners appear to be valuing personal expression over polished goods. Instead of opting for new Victorian tables, more people are willing to buy used Victorian tables with character and history. Only time will tell before modernism in the 21st century can be solidly defined, but experts are beginning to see a general trend developing from the limitless imagination of homeowners’ across the country.