How a New Wave of Feminism is Changing Home Decor

How a New Wave of Feminism is Changing Home Decor

(Image credit: Rebecca Woolf)

Each March, we make a point to celebrate the female role models who came before us during Women's History Month. And this year, it's especially poignant in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements—as we watch women around us continue to make history and demand their voices be heard in ways they've been systematically silenced before.

With any big movement inevitably comes some level of commercialization. Occasionally, that can come with questionable motives, while in other instances it aims to fuel the cause it supports (with charitable donations and the like). Other times, though, it transforms into inevitable moments of art imitating life: the personal realms of fashion, design and decor are unavoidably influenced by the political. As people who relentlessly cover home trends, we can't help but notice how the reignited feminist movement has crept into that sphere. And according to trends forecaster forecaster Nancy Fire of Design Works International and HGTV Home, the current charge is affecting how women are designing and what they are buying for their homes.

"This is an amazing time in history when women are coming together to dismantle stereotypes and show that we are just as strong as men in every way," Nancy told Apartment Therapy this week. She notes the feminist-influenced design movement is everywhere, from art and magazine covers to fashion, product design and kids' rooms design. "When movements like this happen, they show up in design, product and art," she says. "We are seeing pro-femme statements all over children's clothing, so many artists are basing their entire collections on women and reminding females to be powerful and band together."

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The home of Muna Arzouni and her husband Rabih in London displays her passion for women's rights and raising her daughters as fearless women. Check out her whole home tour on Over the Ocean.
(Image credit: Over the Ocean)

"It's starting younger and younger now," says Nancy. "Women [and men!] are teaching their daughters and sons about equality, purpose, women's rights. Children's nurseries have been huge in supporting this, employing art and decals that, for instance, encourage a little girl to be a scientist, astronaut, or CEO rather than the go-to-for-too-long princess."

She also notes that publications like Teen Vogue are focusing more on culture and Women Power over beauty products and sex appeal; their Volume II issue from 2017 featured Solange Knowles on the cover with one headline—"The Sound of Protest".

Teen Vogue Volume II featuring Solange Knowles.
(Image credit: Teen Vogue)

So what does all of this have to do exactly with home decor and things like sofas and wallpaper? Well, plenty actually. This shift in mindset and its influence directly affects the retail market, and hence, decorating trends, according to Nancy.

"We're seeing this empowerment movement through color, textiles, posters. We're seeing products become more feminine—rounder and more voluptuous. We're seeing this incorporation of positive feelings about the female body," she says.

A few specifics to note are that badass female art popping up everywhere. Plus, we're seeing more comfortable, textural fabrics that just feel good on the body, and furniture with more curves. "This is in distinct contrast to the clean, hard lines of the ubiquitous mid-century modern trend of the last decade," explains Nancy.

The unavoidable Millennial Pink has been so prevalent throughout interior design over the last number of years and doesn't seem to be going anywhere, either. You can't lift a shampoo bottle without running into the blushy shade.

"Millennial pink, whether pale or desaturated or salmon-y, is a kind of non-pink pink, an aesthetic distillation of the ideals of contemporary feminism: unabashedly female, but removed from the constraining associations of the past," wrote Senior Writer Nancy Mitchell in an article about the zeitgeisty color last year. "It is, in a lot of ways, defined more by what it isn't than what it is: not Barbie. Not bubble gum. Not princessy."

While home decor has often been a female-dominated industry, it appears that, like we're doing in so many other areas, women have decided to uproot the status quo and play by a new set of rules.

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