Who Are Millennials?
Also known as Generation Y, a millennial can be defined as someone who grew up during the turn of the millennium. Researchers group millennials as those who were born between the 1980s to the early 2000s. Millennials are said to make up a quarter of the UK population, according to a report by Inkling, and are predicted to hit 17 million by 2019. This new generation of consumers is significantly influential toward the developing trends in design. Millennials are currently at a point in their lives where they’re placing more thought and consideration into their long-term life decisions such as their career and whether they want to start settling down to start a family. Millennials are the next generation of home buyers.
But, according to HMRC and the Office for National Statistics, there’s currently an affordability crisis for first-time buyers. Consider this: The average price for a starter home is £211,000. This means that the average salary that would be needed for a mortgage is £38,917.
However, the average salary:
- for 20-24 year-olds is £16,400.
- for 25-29 year-olds is £22,700.
- for 30-34 year-olds is £28,900.
Even with the new Help To Buy scheme, the money involved in securing a home of your very own can be a little overwhelming for a first-time buyer. And thus, the aptly named “Generation Rent” is more than a little dissuaded from getting a foot on the property ladder any time soon.
So what has this got to do with home decor and furniture trends of millennials? Everything!
With this new Generation Rent largely made up of millennials, more rent-friendly furniture needs to be made available. Bespoke fitted furniture built to fit the wall exactly is a luxury for home owners that renters may find risky. Why should they spend money on permanent fittings and home improvement projects for a property that doesn’t belong to them? For a property that they have no guarantee of still being able to live in a couple years down the line, should their landlord decide to move back in, sell it off, or even increase the rent to a figure beyond your budget? This is why millennials are turning to flat pack and modular furniture more and more. Not necessarily cheap, but easy. Furniture that they don’t have to commit to for a lifetime if it can’t be moved, and furniture that they won’t have to worry about abandoning should their circumstances (or even taste) change.
Which brings up another point.
Nothing is more heavily documented than the life of your average millennial. This means that everything in their life has to be Instagram-ready and Pinterest-perfect at a moment’s notice. This constant craving for social approval means that millennials are constantly trying to improve or out-do themselves and each other. With every aspect of their personality on public display, they need to be on the cutting edge of design and trend. Modern, original, unique, a little quirky but not so out there that it won’t appeal to the masses. There’s also more of a desire to experiment with their own tastes while keeping things personal. This generational characteristic coupled with rented accommodation calls for furniture and home decorative items that can be changed or rearranged at a whim. The constant need for change means that furniture has to be similarly quick to adapt to different styles, or risk facing the rubbish tip the next season of home decor trend. Furniture needs to be multi-functional. Precious antique furniture and bulky family heirlooms are dropping dramatically in price as a result of this. Large hand-crafted armoires from the Victorian era are a huge commitment. Not just in terms of space and travel ability but in style too. It may be in vogue one season, but how will it blend with a contemporary theme the next? Shabby chic furniture is still a popular alternative for real antique as it’s both fun and tongue-in-cheek by its very nature, and so can easily be paired with both traditional vintage and more modern styles.
With Generation Rent on the population increase, we’ve seen a huge number of new and innovative ways to decorate rented property without upsetting the landlord. From removable wallpaper to wall decals, who needs the landlord’s permission to paint anymore? These temporary stylings affect the way in which we think about our homes and how we decorate them. When young people decorate, it’s often not with the pressure of permanence. Everything’s an experiment.
Millennials have so many home comforts that previous generations went without; that the home becomes a more interesting, a more importance place for them. Everything can be done from home now. Whether you want to binge-watch the latest movies or the latest Netflix series at home with your friends on Skype or order all your groceries and other non-food items from your phone to be delivered to your home. There’s even more opportunity to make money from home, being self-employed. It’s a wonder why even choose to go out at all sometimes…. Smart furniture (furniture combined with technology) will be the ultimate advancement for the furniture industry as we start demanding more and more from our furniture. Such as the ability to connect wirelessly with our phone so that we may interact with it. But, until we’ve reached those technological advancements as standard, millennials are going to pave the way for everyone else by bringing into trend furniture that is easily customisable and adaptable to different styles of home decor. Furniture and decorative pieces that lend themselves well to suiting everyone’s personal and unique taste in home style in context to how they’re used.
And then, after all this, we’ll all be trying to keep up with the post-millennials, Generation Z… AKA iGen.