What “Millennial Gray” Is, and Why It Has TikTok in a Tizzy

published Apr 11, 2023
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Grayscale photo of a square, wooden table standing in front of a brown, suede sofa with decorative cushions in cozy living room interior
Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

If you’re a millennial with a penchant for gray, you’re not alone. In fact, the hue has become such a staple in homes that it’s become something of a joke online, as millennials and zoomers alike poke fun at the distinct aesthetics of “millennial gray.”

One Urban Dictionary user goes so far as to define millennial gray as: “The sad depressive hue of the color gray which many millennials coat their life in. The color reflects how millennials went from nonsense happiness, looking at Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon in the ‘90s to Inflation and depression in the early 2020s.”

Ouch! But it’s true that, from furniture and bedding to wall colors and flooring, shades of gray became all the rage amongst many millennials in the 2010s, as they rejected their parents’ rustic, faux-Tuscan early aughts decor in favor of the sleek simplicity of the neutral.

“This is not farmhouse gray,” one TikToker joked while explaining the phenomenon. “No, this is asylum gray … we’re living in peace now.”

“We’re just healing from the trauma of the Tuscan villa decor, ivy everywhere, and farm animal-themed kitchens we grew up from,” another added.

Nevertheless, plenty of millennials felt called out by “millennial gray” jokes that have been circulating the internet, and shared self-call out videos admitting to the ways in which their love of gray has taken over their homes.

But if this trend has you feeling out-of-touch, don’t worry. As another viral TikTok pointed out, millennials aren’t fully to blame for this trend. In the video, @_ottostudio breaks down the pattern of more affordable, mass-produced homes from the past 10 to 15 years often coming with gray finishings.

“For anyone that is lucky enough to buy a house right now, you have very little money leftover to buy unique furnishings or special finishes if you’re updating a house,” they pointed out.

They added that many of the people who purchase these newer, all-gray houses are doing so with the intention to flip them without having to spend extra time putting “color and personality in the space, and it’s a blank slate for the next person.”

Whatever your thoughts on gray homes are, it turns out that they might be on the outs anyway. According to Apartment Therapy’s 2022 designer survey, beige has re-emerged as the first-choice neutral, as it offers a much wider array of tones.