Evolution of Modern Home Design and Decor by Millennials

Ever wonder what Millennial homeowners or home buyers want in terms of exterior and interior home design, living space layout, interior decor, and other architectural elements of a house? Knowing this can help inform your remodeling choices and ultimately affect desirability and salability of your home later.

Read on to learn how to please a millennial with your thoughtful choices of home improvements and remodeling upgrades.

Before we get started – Who are these Millennials anyway?

Millennials – those people born between 1982 and 2004 – are gradually coming of age and becoming the new first-time home buyers these days. It may be hard to believe, but the oldest Millennials are now in their early thirties! Of course, whenever a new generation takes over the mantle of first-time home buyer, the housing industry reacts; building and design trends become driven by that generation’s unique preoccupations and interests. (Remember floral wallpaper?)

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Even though there’s been a lot of buzz in the media about Millennials moving back in with their parents due to economic pressure and enormous student loan debt, they still overwhelmingly want to own homes when they can afford to. Perhaps more surprisingly, they also represent a significant portion of the home buying market. How significant? Try 35%!

That’s enough to make home builders and home designers pay attention. After all, even if they are currently buying older, cheaper, and smaller homes than their wealthier elders, those same Millennials will be the second- and third-time home buyers of the future – and they’re going to want to buy homes that make them feel comfortable.

In fact, in a survey conducted by Better Homes & Gardens, 63% of Millennial survey-takers said that having a customized home suited to their tastes was a top priority. Consequently, anyone trying to sell a house in 2017 probably ought to know what qualities Millennials are looking for in a new home.

If Millennials value design traits that make them feel like their home is a reflection of themselves, then to know what design traits will resonate with them, we need to know what personality traits Millennials tend to have in common. According to Goldman Sachs, the biggest things that differentiate Millennials from previous generations are their interests in and commitment to technology, health and wellness, and an economy based on sharing rather than ownership (think digital subscriptions as opposed to purchasing apps outright). – These qualities can translate into home design and building trends in really interesting ways.

Let’s examine the coolest Millennial-driven home design trends for this year. See if you can spot the pattern that makes up the Millennial “personality”.


One thing everyone agrees about when it comes to the Millennial homebuyer is their desire for personalized, customized living. This often results in interior design choices that intentionally advertise themselves as second-hand, DIY, or eclectic, rather than trying to hide that fact.

From industrial light fixtures to reclaimed wood floors to LED backlighting in the shower to art purchased on Etsy, Millennials love self-expression: 44% of them say they’d pay a premium for a space that best reflected their unique needs and interests.

You might think all this self-expression is symptomatic of self-obsession, but it also can reflect a growing desire to be true to oneself, rather than following cultural cues that dictate exactly what car, house, or sofa one must own to be considered classy or hip.


Open layouts with flexibility

Millennials love flexible, open-concept layouts. Whereas a formal dining room or a third bedroom might have been important to their predecessors, those same spaces are now being repurposed into art studios, offices (this is, after all, the work-from-home, digital nomad generation), and even dedicated sub-letting space. Short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb are extraordinarily popular as a means of making extra cash.

This trend towards flexibility is expressive of Millennials’ general preference for function over form, a group that cares more about utility than curb appeal or “what the neighbors think”, and might be willing to stash an exercise bike in a bedroom if it maximizes space.

Speaking of house layout, another interesting trend to be aware of is the surprising importance of dedicated laundry rooms to this generation. In fact, 55% of Millennials said they wouldn’t buy a house without one.

If you’re considering putting your house up for sale this year, and you don’t want to tear down all the walls to create an open-concept kitchen, consider repurposing any small rooms (preferably near the plumbing) into a laundry room. The Vice-President of Pardee Homes has called the laundry room the “kitchen of the future”.


Millennials tend to care a lot about access to services and amenities, but still generally prefer suburban to urban areas, but only if they are within a short drive of grocery stores, restaurants, and shopping. The ideal location is within walking distance to a park, where health-conscious Millennials can go to jog, work out, or walk the dog.

Smaller – even tiny! – houses

The popular Tiny House movement, featured on prominent TV shows, plastered across Pinterest, and taking over even mainstream publications like Country Living, has been primarily millennial-driven. The motivations behind choosing a Tiny House – which is typically somewhere between 100 and 400 square feet – include cheaper upfront purchase or build costs, drastically reduced utility and maintenance costs, and less environmental impact.

In short, this is a recipe for attracting Millennials, who are worried about buying with high debt and low savings, and prefer to live a simpler, greener life. And although Millennials like the idea of buying something trendy on Pinterest – Jill Waage, editor of Better Homes & Gardens, says, “This generation is searching out ideas, following bloggers… [and] curating their dream home online.” – they also tend to prefer smaller homes even when they’re on the mainstream market.

Low Maintenance Home Building Materials

Rather than viewing home as a place that should be comfortable for sitting around or entertaining others, Millennials tend to see their home as a place to take care of the necessities of life before heading back out into the world to pursue their varied interests. This attitude, combined with less money and time (after all, it’s all going to those hobbies!), means that Millennials put a premium on low maintenance building materials.

A great example of this is in action is when a potential seller, savvy to Millennial trends, adds a covered patio or three-seasons room onto the house. Surveys show that Millennials prefer an outdoor living space upgrade over any other kind. But when adding a room onto a house, you’ve got to make a decision about materials – and this is where low maintenance comes in.

Energy Efficient and Long-Lasting Roofs

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Flat and low-slope roofing is a roofing style of choice when designing a new home or building an addition, since copying the exact look of the rest of the home in a blended way can be difficult. There are a small variety of flat roofing materials – about 5 or 6 different kinds – but PVC single-ply membrane is by far the most popular, common, and long-lasting choice. This material is so durable it’s often sold with a lifetime warranty, and often so popular that some contractors will only install PVC.

A second-place award for low maintenance flat roof goes to another, newer kind of single-ply membrane called TPO. TPO’s been more popular in recent years because it is also highly energy efficient and easy to get in desirable, light-reflecting white. Plus, it is typically cheaper than PVC. However, for Millennials looking for choices that don’t require replacement or upkeep, PVC wins for its incredible longevity of 20 to 30 years, as opposed to TPO’s 7 to 20 years.

Metal Cladding and Siding

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Okay – you’ve got a roof for your Millennial-baiting sunroom; now what are you going to use for siding? According to this extensive breakdown of the different siding options, you can’t beat metal siding for durability and low maintenance requirements.

And not all metal siding looks like a tin can, either – copper and zinc siding and cladding are gaining in popularity. Metal siding is extremely lightweight, making for a fast and easy install, even as a DIY project (which Millennials love!), and it’s so tough that it will never corrode, meaning it will likely never have to be replaced. High-end metal wall panels can withstand hail and wind. Metal panels are anti-microbial and won’t require periodic repainting. Plus, their unique look will likely appeal to Millennials who are ever so conscious of a house’s personality. 😉

Smart technology

A whopping 77% of Millennials say they’d prefer a smart house upgrade over a kitchen upgrade. Remember, these are the first digital natives – people who grew up with the internet and often don’t remember a time without it. Technology has permeated their lives since the beginning.

Millennial homebuyers are unlikely to want landline jacks in their house, but instead prefer that traditional outlets be replaced with USB outlets – and having access to a cable jack to provide WiFi is important, too.

Other cool ideas? Programmable everything — LED lighting and thermostats, moisture sensors and even door locks. These devices often cost a little more at the initial investment but save tons of money in energy efficiency down the road. For instance, a smart smoke detector could save you 5% on your home insurance, and smart sprinkler controls can reduce water bills up an incredible 30 to 60%.

Which brings us to…


Millennials have grown up hearing about preventing global warming, eating a clean diet, living green, preserving water, and living a low-footprint, sustainable life. To older generations, the changes required by such principles may seem dubious or suspicious at first; to Millennials, they are cost-effective no-brainers. A house with sustainable features is therefore more likely to sell to a Millennial than a less green-friendly house of the same price.

According to the US Green Building Council, more than half of new consumers rank green housing as a top requirement for their next home. Replacing old insulation or upgrading drafty windows are just a tip of the iceberg in sustainable home investments.

Even installing a clothesline pole in the backyard is a way to reduce energy usage and attract the Millennial crowd, who love all things DIY.

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1 thought on “Evolution of Modern Home Design and Decor by Millennials”

  1. Being a millennial myself, I think all the ideas are pretty accurate and well documented. I think everybody nowadays prefers a personalized, customized living for the simple fact that it is your home.


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