You can describe Grandmillennial style in many ways. To some degree, it’s certainly traditional. But it’s not uncommon to find sprinklings of contemporary influences through modern art and furniture.
If you’re interested in improving your understanding of this style, I encourage you to learn from the greats. I’ve crafted this list of 4 traditional Grandmillennial decorators you must know. This list includes those whose personal styles influenced the creation of Grandmillennial design we so enjoy today.
First on the list is Sister Parish.
Sister Parish – born Dorothy Kinnicutt – was an American decorator born in 1910. She was self-taught, and her style borrowed from the English country house established by Colefax and Fowler.
She didn’t shy away from mixing various patterns and she often heavily incorporated chintz fabrics into her designs. Due to the economic harshness of the 1920s, she was also very good at being frugal. She incorporated everyday items like needlepoint and quilting into her designs and mixed them with pricey French and English antiques.
In some ways, Sister Parish’s approach to decorating is similar to that of Grandmillennial decorators. Grandmillennial style is a balance between old and new and a mix of high and low price points. And the best decorators do this very well.
Sister Parish’s style went on to be the foundation for American country style, and the Sister Parish design firm continues to craft interiors that attract admirers of the Grandmillennial style.
Case in point: Dolly wallpaper. It’s a Sister Parish design and there are plenty of fabulous Grandmillennial style interiors that feature this pattern.
Dorothy Draper began decorating around the time that Sister Parish was active. Although they may have been from the same time, their styles were very different. Where Parish had a homey charm to her interiors, Dorothy Draper had a strong Palm Beach quality to her style.
Her taste in colors was generally bold. Many of the rooms she designed utilized bright blues and greens, and she occasionally threw in some red or coral for some extra pop. She also leaned into geometric patterns like stripes and checks on walls, floors, and fabrics.
And on occasion, she’d make use of chintz florals on wallpaper or upholstery too.
Her decorative touches were like jewelry. She preferred to sprinkle them here and there to bring it all together, but she had a way of never letting the decor detract from bold colors and flooring.
She’s probably the least traditional interior decorator on this list, but I think it’s important to include her. Grandmillennial style isn’t fully traditional either – it’s a mix of many styles and contemporary interpretations of those styles. Grandmillennial style can at times have touches of Regency so that’s why Draper’s on the list.
If you’re interested, you can read more about Draper’s history here.
Of all the traditional Grandmillennial decorators on this list, this one is the one you ought to remember.
I’m inclined to argue that our current understanding of Grandmillennial style wouldn’t be what it is today had Mario Buatta never been as renowned as he was during his time.
Buatta was partially influenced by English designer John Fowler, who you’ll also encounter later in this list.
Buatta’s style was many things. Heavy handed with chintz. Silk bows on paintings. Touches of Chinoiserie. Abundant with Staffordshire dogs.
A cluttered style, some would say. But at its heart, it was very traditional.
Seating was always at the forefront of any living or sitting room. And the more mismatched it all looked, the better. Antiques were always present in one form or another, and they seemed to come from all over the world.
To me, much of today’s Grandmillennial style is heavily derived from Mario Buatta’s own.
When you look at any room Buatta designed, you see all the typical decor elements of Grandmillennial style:
- Wall sconces
- Picture bows
- Cabbage and lettuce ware
- Needlepoint pillows
- Chinoiserie panels
- Floral prints
- Ruffles and pleats
Contemporary Grandmillennial iterations of Buatta’s style still stick with aubergines, pea greens, and pale pinks. And although they are undoubtedly contemporary, Buatta’s influence is undeniable.
Colefax & Fowler
Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler were British interior decorators. Colefax began decorating on her own in the 1930s. When demand for her services got too high, she brought on Fowler for assistance and together they were known as Colefax & Fowler.
Eventually, in 1944, Colefax sold the business to Nancy Lancaster.
Fowler and Lancaster would continue to design and eventually settle on a style that defined the English country house. Their style was casual. They created interiors for the everyday person with an ordinary life. In essence, it was timeless.
Although the firm Colefax and Fowler may be most renowned for patterns like Bowood and Chantilly, many of their interiors are the epitome of traditional British decorating.
Although it may not always be bold like Draper or busy like Buatta, when you pull back enough layers the English country house is often at the core of their design style. And, well what do you know? Grandmillennial aesthetics derive from English country homes.
The field of interior decorating has produced countless fabulous designers. Although there are numerous traditional Grandmillennial decorators I could write about, this list of four is arguably the most influential.
I encourage you to take a look at interiors designed by these individuals for inspiration. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words! So there’s undoubtedly tons for you to learn from them.