7 Decorating schemes that only worked in the 1980s

With the return of Netflix's hit show Stranger Things eBay has reported searched-for-show-related items are up 400 per cent. We question is an 80's revival a good thing when it comes to homes?

What did our homes look like 30 years ago? From wood-chip wallpaper to coloured carpets, take a look at these decorating ideas that only worked in the 1980s...

1. Snazzy paint techniques

Snazzy paint with sponge and grey wall

(Image credit: TBC)

 In the 1980's we embraced fun paint techniques. Sponging and rag rolling were used to create a mottled, aged look found on old porcelain or rustic stoneware. It was an easy technique to master and was widely popular. However, it is rarely used in modern interiors (mainly due to the fact that it's a pretty unconvincing way to create a rustic scheme).

Related: Living room paint ideas to transform any space

2. Artex walls and ceilings

bedroom with artex wall and artex ceiling

(Image credit: TBC)

Widely used in the 1970s, but still hugely popular in the 1980s, Artex was a way of finishing off a ceilings and walls without plastering. Artex ceilings and walls were mainly finished with familiar stippled and swirled patterns which looked hideous and are really difficult to remove! Why? Just Why?

3. Peach colour schemes

bathroom with peach wall and wash basin with bathtub

(Image credit: TBC)

Ahh peach. It did make an appearance earlier this year on The Great British Interior Design Challenge do you remember? Kelly Hoppen was horrified when the ceiling was coated in a peach shade, as were we.  It was the colour of choice for interior design schemes in the 1980s. A simple question perplexes us...why?

4. Coloured carpets

carpets with coloured and multicolour

(Image credit: TBC)

 Some contemporary coloured carpets are stunning. Fact. However in the 1980s the mix of horrible patterns complete with a selection of gaudy colourways meant that the carpets we installed in our home were simply revolting...

Looking to care for carpets? How to care for wool carpets

5. Swags and tails

pink wall with curtain on window

(Image credit: TBC)

Don't get us wrong, here at Ideal Home we love an amazing window treatment, we're also big fans of beautifully hung curtains. Unfortunately, it seems that in the 1980s we took things to chintzy extremes. Every window had more layers than a lettuce, there was no such thing as OTT in the 80s.

6. Red and black colour schemes

scandi black chair with vase and red plat

(Image credit: TBC)

 Remember all those black and red colour schemes? They worked particularly well with a framed picture of a red Ferrari/Porche on the wall and a grotesque mix of cheap black ash furniture. Nowadays black is used tastefully in monochrome decorating schemes and when red's an accent colour it's far less tacky than a car print.

Looking for colour inspiration? Read Colourful bedroom ideas to brighten your life

7. Wallpaper borders

dining table with candles and tray with bowl

(Image credit: TBC)

In the 1980s we went mad for a wallpaper border and boy, did we overdo it! We had borders in every room, in bold clashing patterns to that of the wallpaper – because back then all four walls were papered, never painted.

Although the show is great for nostalgia we're not sure we want the trend for 80s decorating trends to come back for the modern home?!


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.