20 Forgotten Trends from the 1920s to Consider Bringing Back for the 2020s

published Jan 30, 2020
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Credit: Sylvie Li

It’s officially the ’20s again, and we’re throwing it back to the Roaring 1920s all weekWhether you love Jazz Age decor, historic homes, or just learning how people lived 100 years ago, we’ve got you covered. Cheers, old chap!

The 1920s are memorable for a lot of reasons: World War I was over, the 19th Amendment was ratified (granting women the right to vote), “The Great Gatsby” was published, and Art Deco style decor reigned supreme. “Beginning in France, the Art Deco Movement spread to the United States in the 1920’s introducing a new artistic style that encapsulated everything from interiors and fashion to architecture,” says Michelle Lisac, founder and principal designer of Michelle Lisac Interior Design. “With the end of World War I, a renewed sense of optimism and economic prosperity brought new wealth, luxury, and glamour, especially for society’s elite looking to outfit their new homes.”

Filled with luxurious fabrics, sharp lines, mixed metallics, and rich color palettes, Art Deco style decor is both glamorous and eclectic. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the era’s most notable trends are popping up inside design-savvy interiors today. We reached out to a handful of designers to find out what forgotten trends from the 1920s have the potential to make a comeback, and here’s what they said.  

1. Scallop Prints

Scallops are timeless, yet modern,” says textile designer Brook Perdigon. “As a design element, they’re versatile and easy to reinvent. People like living with round shapes and scallops provide that.” An easy way to incorporate the scallop motif into a space is through decorative hurricanes like this Serena & Lily style.

Buy: Scalloped Capiz Hurricane, Starting at $78 from Serena & Lily

Credit: West Elm

2. Geometric Textiles 

I’m always going to be a sucker for bold, geometric prints with an Art Deco pattern,” says Caitlin Murray of Black Lacquer Design. “They make for such sumptuous, dimensional wallpaper patterns and gorgeous, large-scale rug designs, both of which can really set an elegant, glamorous tone for a whole space.”

Buy: Margo Selby Mix Geo Rug, Starting at $28 $23.20 for a 2′ by 3′ foot rug from West Elm

3. Mirrors and Mirrored Finishes

“Mirrors immediately magnify the size of a small space and make it feel more grand,” says interior designer Anne Hepfer. It makes sense, then, that oversized mirrors and mirrored furniture pieces were all the rage in the roaring ’20s, considering the prevailing attitudes toward displaying status and wealth after WWI.

4. Metallic Wallpaper

Metallic surfaces, including decorative wallpaper like this geometric and marble design, evoke glamour and mystique,” Perdigon says. “They can either be bright and fresh or moody and compelling—both options rewrite a story that started long ago.”

Buy: Brewster Wallpaper Gulliver Gold Marble Geometric Wallpaper, $79.98 $59.98 per roll at Wallpaper Warehouse

Credit: Etsy

5. Decorative Iron Railings

Decorative iron railings have always been a popular design feature because they’re so unique, yet versatile,” says Ashley Moore, founder and principal designer of Moore House Interiors. “With designs that range from simple to ornate, iron railings just might work their way back into homes to add a touch of elegance.”

Buy: Iron Balusters, Starting at $1.29 from Etsy

Credit: Viv Yapp

6. Sunburst Decor 

“Sunburst-style decor is a great way to add a fun, playful accent to your home,” Moore says. “From entryway mirrors to decorative lighting, they bring a dash of 1920s glam to a room without appearing too old-fashioned.”

7. Freestanding Bathtubs

“It’s almost hard to remember that the clawfoot tub was the original freestanding tub because other styles are so popular now,” says Kathy Anderson of Anderson Design Studio. “A freestanding tub is most times more comfortable than a big built-in spa tub.” Clawfoot tubs also take up less floor space than those spa style tubs, which also can make a bathroom appear larger.

Credit: All Modern

8. Mosaic Tile

“From bathroom floors to kitchen backsplashes, mosaic tile adds dimension and character to a room,” Moore says. “There are thousands of different styles, shapes, and colors to choose from, making it an elevated design element that can be incorporated into any home.”

Buy: Retro Fretwork Random Sized Marble Mosaic Tile, $20.97 $17.49 per square foot from All Modern

9. Bold Paint Colors

“The rich deco paint colors such as deep blue, purple, and dark burgundy are very popular now,” Anderson says. And Anderson is not just talking wall colors—these deeper jewel toned hues are even popping up on kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity cabinets, too.

Credit: France & Son

10. Bauhaus Style Furniture 

People often think of the ’20s as all Art Deco, but the Bauhaus school emerged roughly around the same time, marrying form with function and reconciling mass production and artistry. For Anderson, Bauhaus style furniture is timeless and poised to increase in popularity again—everything in fashion and home tends to be cyclical. “The classic Wassily Chair with leather straps was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1926, and it still looks modern,” says Anderson. “The classic Barcelona Chair was designed in 1929 by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. Knoll still sells both of those chairs today!” France & Son also offers a mixed material chair in this style.

Buy: Modern B33 Chair, $695.95 $277.00 from France & Son

Credit: Perigold

11. Shiny Metallic Fabrics

Luxury is a huge trend, and shiny fabrics offer that tiny bit of glam to a room,” Perdigon says. Adds Anderson: “Metallics are back in a big way! They are even woven into linens, as seen in this pillow, for a rustic glam look.”

Buy: Abstract Throw Pillow, $125 from Perigold

12. Exotic Folding Screens

Folding screens continue to be an art opportunity,” Anderson says. “New designs are available, and antique screens are used in new interiors as art features.” Another plus? They can also help you divide up an open, shared room and introduce a little privacy to a corner or small stretch of space in a room.

Buy: 4 ft. Black 5-Panel Room Divider, From $113 The Home Depot

Credit: CB2

13. Cocktail Cabinets

“Bar cabinets are trending, and it’s not necessary to hide the fact you drink like it may have been in the ’20s!” Anderson says. “These bar cabinets are a beautiful feature in a dining room or living room and typically are lit beautifully to make the barware sparkle.”

Buy: Swig White Mini Bar, $449 from CB2

14. Ornamental Lighting

“Often composed of beautiful cut glass, deco style chandeliers create a glamorous centerpiece for a room while supplying warm, ambient lighting,” Anderson says. You can find vintage lights or choose a more modern silhouette with Deco influences. 

Credit: Sylvie Li

15. Angular Furniture

“Most of the classic Le Corbusier leather sofas with metal frames were designed in the late 1920s and are still produced today,” Anderson says. Today, these kinds of angular pieces are mixing with softer, curved silhouettes as seen in the apartment above, so the magic is in the mix for sure. 

Credit: West Elm

16. Modernist Art

“Cubism and other classic Deco styles of art are all about bold shapes and colors,” Anderson says. “They’re a sophisticated way to bring a pop of color and personality to a room.” Look for prints and paintings done in this style like this big, colorful West Elm Modern framed canvas.

Buy: Framed Print Modern Deco Elm, $399 from West Elm

Credit: World Market

17. Brass and Glass Furniture

“Pairing glass with an unlacquered brass creates a subtle monochromatic contrast that always feels glamorous and dynamic,” Murray says. “The sleek textures play off one another to evoke a sense of quiet luxury without feeling overly lavish.” Try a table like this leggy gold World Market console.

Buy: Glass and Gold Leaf Roslyn Console Table, $299.99 from World Market 

18. Stained Glass Decor

“Stained glass is such an interesting way to add color to a room while playing off the light in the space,” Anderson says. “Try placing a Tiffany lamp next to a high-gloss painted wall to refract the light and colors even more. Or use it in a modern den or office to bring a sense of warmth and history to the room.” Tiffany style glass lamps also look great overhead, as seen in this Pennsylvania house tour.

Credit: Overstock

19. Geometric Headboards

“Geometric furniture, particularly metal headboards, paired with complementary patterns can create a fun pattern mixing moment,” Anderson says. “However, be careful not to create too much competition. Try simple, minimal bedding with tonal texture, so it’s not overwhelming.”

Buy: Safavieh Paloma Metal Retro Headboard, Starting at $441.36 $158.98 from Overstock

20. Interesting Finishes

“Tortoise shells and shagreen finishes were found in Deco style homes and have become popular again today,” Anderson says. “They bring texture and visual interest to a space.”