What Are ‘Millennial Grey’ Homes and Why Are They Making Millennials Cringe? | Kanebridge News
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What Are ‘Millennial Grey’ Homes and Why Are They Making Millennials Cringe?

To their horror, many millennials have found themselves with safe, way-too-gray decor and TikTok is skewering them. Here, what’s behind this conflicting phenomenon—and tips on escaping a colorless existence.

By GRACE RASMUS
Mon, Apr 17, 2023 8:24amGrey Clock 5 min

“OH, LOOK, the kitchen floors are grey now,” I said, juggling boxes as I stepped inside my newly rented apartment. “Nice!”

When I’d first toured the 1940s townhouse in Queens, N.Y., that floor was tiled in ageing checkerboard squares of black and icky-cream. The promise to replace them had thrilled me, but the colour came as a surprise. Then I noticed the kitchen walls were now a seemingly identical grey. A few months later, when my landlord needed to replace the mid-century-pink bathroom floors, I was less enthused. “Oh, look, the bathroom floors are grey now,” I said. “Ugh.”

This decor style—or lack thereof—that I and so many of my millennial peers have ended up with has inspired the mocking phrase millennial grey. “There’s a millennial grey-looking restroom inside the Mexican restaurant,” TikToker @chloeisag sang in February in a viral video with 3.5 million views. The video contrasts the cheery, piñata-filled decor in a restaurant’s seating area with the clean-yet-bleak bathroom in the back. Grey floors. Grey walls. Grey artwork. A fake plant. “It’s giving ‘airport,’” she sings. “It’s giving ‘live, laugh, love.’ It’s giving ‘corporate.’”

As the phrase circulates online, many millennials are realising, to their chagrin, that it all-too-accurately describes their own homes. “So I just heard the phrase ‘millennial gray’ for the first time,” said horrified TikTok user @victoria.thatsit in another video. “Let me show you guys my house. My bathroom: grey. My floor: grey. My counters: grey…Our chairs: some type of grey. Our dog beds: grey. Our walls are grey. This last one really gets me: Our dogs are grey!”

That video has 5.6 million views. “It’s a thing?” one TikTok commenter said of ‘millennial grey.’ “Cause it’s true lol. Everything I own is grey and I’m buying more grey.” Another pinpoints the problem: Grey harmonises effortlessly with…more grey. It “will go with anything…including everything we’ve bought that’s already grey that we bought to go with everything.” A third writes, “I think we all had intentions of adding pops of color but we have commitment problems.”

Boomers and GenXers have ridiculed millennials for decades, but punches from below, from Gen Z and TikTok and the very internet millennials grew up on, are uniquely gutting. And this one particularly hurts because it’s true. I accept no blame for my walls and my floors—as a renter, I don’t make the rules; my (millennial-aged) landlords do. But you know what else is gray? My sofa. My bedding. I chose those. Me. I’m only 29, but as soon as the “millennial gray” snipe surfaced online, I knew the phrase would haunt me for the rest of my decorating years.

How did my generation, known not too long ago for a penchant for pastels, let ourselves slip into a haze of gray? It isn’t necessarily the result of conscious design choices, says Nicko Elliott, 42, co-founder of Civilian architectural and interior design studio in Brooklyn, N.Y. As he explained, house flippers and property managers tend to like inexpensive furnishings in safe, neutral, durable colors, which means many millennial renters and first-time homeowners signed a dotted line on a space that already had gray in its bones: the floors, the cabinets, the counters, the walls. And even when it came time to renovate, many millennials “have been really focused on…having a blank slate for the next person,” said Jen Cook, 39, a Vancouver-based designer and co-founder of Otto Studio, which sells removable, renter-friendly wallpaper.

And the “take it or leave it” gray of choice is often particularly numbing and middle-of-the-road. “Sensible property managers and landlords might say, ‘go for middle grays,’” said Mr. Elliott. “‘If it’s too light it’s going to show dirt. If it’s too dark it’s going to show dirt.’ Everything’s going to push you toward a middle tone.”

Another factor: Impatient millennials want things fast. When it comes to major design purchases like sofas from mass-market outlets, neutral colors like gray are often what’s in stock, no ordering required, said Ksenia Kagner, 37, the other co-founder of Civilian in Brooklyn. “For colored sofas, these days you have to wait 12 to 18 weeks.” For millennials accustomed to two-day shipping, that kind of wait isn’t an option.

Then, as Ms. Cook put it, there’s the fact that “some folks don’t feel comfortable matching [colors]. They’re worried about getting tired of it, so if people are feeling busy and stressed and tapped out, a gray neutral palette feels much more doable.”

The look was once actually a coveted, luxe trend. “In the late ‘90s, when we were coming out of peach-beige-mania, there was more of a high-end design movement about gray and dark woods,” said Mr. Elliott. That trickled down into mass-market decor options. Now, as the design pendulum swings back around to beiges, a gray palette can seem dated, and millennials are realizing to their dismay that they’ve been living life in colorless spaces for the past several years.

Of course, to some, a simple gray palette might seem like a relaxing choice after a stressful day at work. “I think gray just feels very comfortable,” said Nathaniel Dressler, 24, who is enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and recently bought and redecorated a home with mostly gray furnishings in Panama City, Fla. When he moved in, the walls were green and blue and, to him, seemed “really busy.” After he muted the look by painting it gray, “it felt very peaceful and calming.” Like me, he first encountered the phrase “millennial gray” on TikTok and found it amusing (though, by most definitions, he is technically a member of Gen Z). “We had just picked out the colors for our walls and floors and cabinets, and our furniture was already [grey]…Then when I saw it on TikTok, I was like, ‘Oh, this is definitely what they’re talking about.’”

Mr. Dressler said he notices lots of neutral colour choices among his peers, a contrast to the home he grew up in with its yellow and red accent walls. “Every generation wants to move against whatever their parents had as decor,” says Ms. Cook. “For our parents, it was the Tuscan kitchens, for their parents, maybe it was pastels in the ’50s.” At least one TikToker agrees: “As a millennial with a lot of gray walls…I grew up at a time when it was appropriate for everyone to have this faux Tuscan kitchen,” @corndogbicep said in a video. “So what do millennials do with such traumatizing life circumstances? Well, we all decided to have a mental health crisis simultaneously. This is not farmhouse gray; this is asylum gray. We’re living in peace now.”

So what’s on deck for the next generation of home decor enthusiasts? The bolder, the better, said Ms. Cook. “Gen Z is more open…to the idea that your home can be a reflection of your personality, and they’re really going for the big, saturated colors,” she said, noting the difference in shopping habits she’s observed among buyers of her removable wallpaper. “We do have a lot of neutral and softer color palettes—and nobody’s buying it,” she said of Gen Z tastes. “Everyone’s getting the hot pink, the bright blue. It’s kind of wild.”

ME GRAY? NO WAY

Realized you’re living in a dull daze at home? How to break the cycle.

  • Think of color as an investment in your happiness. “Our homes impact our mental health so much,” says Ms. Cook. “Ask yourself: Am I inspired by warm, citrusy colors? Am I into pastels? Do I want to go big and bold with some neon touches?”
  • If you want to work with the gray you’ve already got:Pull in complementary colors throughout your space. Try sophisticated versions of primary colors, like oxblood, a deep yellow or cobalt blue. “These colors would help bring electricity and contrast to a dull gray space,” Mr. Elliott said.
  • Finally, if you’re dead-set on gray walls, at least choose the right one. Wickham Gray by Benjamin Moore is a go-to gray paint that Ms. Kagner and Mr. Elliott have used in multiple projects. “It’s beautiful,” he said. “There’s a little bit of green in it, a little bit of blue in it, and there’s a richness that will change over time. It absorbs colors, it reflects light throughout the day, and it has different moods.”


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Designing Dreams: David Charette’s fascinating Spaces for Children’s Adventures

David Charette has teamed up with CIRCU Magical Furniture to design spaces that capture the essence of childhood wonder.

Tue, May 21, 2024 4 min

This collaboration between David Charette, founder and principal of Britto Charette, and CIRCU Magical Furniture aims to stimulate the imaginations of children, encouraging them to invent their own tales of adventure. Drawing on his extensive travels, Charette believes that journeying through different cultures can spark creativity in young minds.

His latest venture uses a mix of luxury elements and magical themes, incorporating products from CIRCU, Covet House, and other vendors to create unique, enchanting children’s rooms. These spaces are designed to reflect the excitement and mystery of exploring new worlds.

The Sleeping are:

David Charette has transformed a Montreal residence into a magical sleeping area where time seems to pause, and adventures await. Known for its long, cold winters and short days, Montreal served as the perfect backdrop for Charette’s vision of a space that remains warm and bright throughout the year.

Central to the design is the concept of “light and bright,” brought to life using de Gournay‘s hand-painted wall coverings in fresh mint, decorated with flying butterflies. These elements beautifully complement the original shapes of the KOKET Nymph Wall Lamp and the organic curves of the CIRCU Tristen Bed.

Charette’s attachment to the Tristen Bed stems not only from its youthful appeal but also from its ergonomic design, which makes it easy for children to climb in and out of, enhancing both its functionality and charm.

The Bed:

Charette paired the modern lines of the bed with the unique design of the Boca do Lobo Wave Nightstand and the funky style of Delightfull’s Billy Table Lamp. By blending these contemporary pieces with the classic elements in the decor of this luxury kids’ room, Charette has crafted a unique space that breathes a natural breeze of inspiration into any child’s environment.

This combination not only adds aesthetic appeal but also stimulates the imagination, making the room a perfect sanctuary for creativity and dreams.

The seating area:

The room also includes a cozy seating area perfect for young readers. Centred around the CIRCU Dainty Armchair, this space is tailored for kids, with the chair’s delicate structure and elegant design enhancing the room’s charm. Its pink velvet upholstery adds a vibrant pop of color, enriching the room’s palette. To distinctly separate this reading corner from the rest of the sleeping area, Charette chose the Boca Do Lobo Gold Folding Screen from Covet House, which not only adds an element of privacy but also contributes a touch of sophistication to the space.

The Play and Study area:

David Charette aimed to create a space with an “Out of Africa” vibe to spark a child’s imagination and inspire a passion for lifelong adventures and travels. Drawing from fond memories of camping during his own childhood, Charette incorporated a Teepee Tent into the room’s design, allowing children to feel as they are camping in a forest right within their own bedroom.

This nature-inspired theme is beautifully complemented by the Fornasetti wall coverings from Cole & Son and the Filigree Cricket Wall Lamp, which are insect-shaped sconces by Boca do Lobo.

Adding to the ambiance, Charette notes, “The clouds on the ceiling further the idea of camping (in this case “glamping”) and dreaming, and the Circu Cloud Suspension lamps add to the dreamy camping vibe.”

To maintain this adventurous theme, Charette selected the CIRCU NODO Suspension Chair. It not only brings a hint of outdoor fun indoors with an elegant flair but also offers a comfy spot for kids to unwind and lose themselves in their favorite stories.

In his design, David Charette, of Britto Charette, focused on enhancing the sense of freedom and sparking children’s imaginations in their own space. He chose one of his favorite pieces from CIRCU, the Sky Desk, for its playful design and inspirational form. Shaped like an airplane, this desk not only becomes the central feature of playtime but also transforms homework into an exciting adventure. The unique design aims to captivate and motivate young minds, turning everyday tasks into a flight of imagination.

David Charette designed this luxury children’s room with the hope that it would inspire children to dream, play, and develop a deep respect for nature as they embark on their own adventures.

He crafted the room to be “transitional,” capable of evolving with a child from toddler years into adolescence. This design approach not only aims to create a lasting, imaginative space for children but also to show parents the value of investing in unique, high-quality pieces like those from Circu. These carefully chosen items stand out from mass-produced children’s designs, offering both aesthetic appeal and long-term utility.

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