In the 1960s, homes used colorful wallpaper and white paint to accent their homes. Then in 2006, beige took over America’s homes. Atlas Obscura’s Kate Wagner argues that this is the era where interior design in the 2000s was “so mind-numbingly mundane” as beige took over. So who is to blame for the beige phenomenon?
Wagner says the finger can be pointed at several factors: the economics of the mortgage crisis, the rise of home-improvement network TV changing the 36-year concept of a home on its head. As HGTV’s interior design shows took over, it became clear that designing a home in beige would make it more valuable.
As Wagner writes,
Beigeification was part of a larger shift that happened during the early 2000s. After centuries of the home being primarily a place or a space, during the 2000s it was seen as primarily an object or, more specifically, an asset. At a time where mortgage speculation made our houses disposable and impermanent, beige slipped happily onto the walls of millions of Americans, who wanted easy ways to make their house “worth more” at the behest of HGTV and other media, who treated the home as a thing to be changed, or disposed of on a whim. Beige was not a harbinger of the clinical, minimal design that is so popular now; it was the harbinger of a bubble. When houses stopped selling, our design aesthetics immediately changed, streamlined by a tight wallet.