Bringing the ‘80s Back to the Future: 9 Modern ‘80s Design Tips from the Pros

Want to infuse your living space with the nostalgic charm of the ‘80s? Delve into the world of modern ‘80s design with insights from seasoned professionals in the field. In this Redfin feature, we unveil expert tips and tricks to seamlessly blend the iconic aesthetics of the ‘80s with contemporary sensibilities. 

Whether you’re navigating the confines of a compact New York apartment or settling into the expanses of a open-concept house in LA, discover how to incorporate the timeless allure of modern ‘80s-inspired design into your living space. Your journey to reviving the spirit of the ‘80s starts here, and we’ve got you covered every step of the way.

80s style bathroom

1. Refurbish iconic furniture pieces

Reviving iconic ’80s furniture pieces through refurbishment is a trend that pays homage to the era’s unforgettable design aesthetics.

“I find that successfully blending ‘80s decor trends with modern aesthetics is all about embracing the eclectic nature of the era,” shares home and garden expert, Lord Decor. “One key tip is to focus on refurbishing iconic furniture pieces from the 1980s, giving them a contemporary twist through color updates or subtle modifications. Experiment with vibrant hues that were popular in the ‘80s, such as electric blues, neon pinks, and bold yellows. Balance these bold colors with neutral tones to create a harmonious and visually appealing space. Additionally, don’t shy away from incorporating geometric patterns and bold prints on accent walls or in decor elements.”

2. Strike the right balance

“Merging ‘80s decor trends with modern aesthetics is all about striking the right balance,” recommends interior design and decorator professionals, Inside Decors. “Embrace the boldness of the ‘80s by integrating its iconic neon colors and dynamic geometric shapes, but temper them with the sleek, clean lines of modern design. This creates a space that’s both lively and sophisticated.” 

“Don’t overdo it,” continues Inside Decors. “The ‘80s were known for their ‘more is more’ approach, but in a modern setting, it’s crucial to use these elements sparingly as accents. For instance, a single piece of ‘80s-inspired art or a retro-patterned throw pillow can make a striking statement without overwhelming the space.”

3. Paint an accent wall

An accent wall, a hallmark of ’80s interior design, remains a timeless technique embraced by design professionals today. It involves selecting one wall within a room and giving it a distinct, eye-catching treatment that sets it apart from the others.

I love an accent wall with tropical designs or bold abstract designs,” suggests professional and residential painter service in NYC, Soho Painters

“The key here is that it becomes the accent of the room – the one signature wall that stands out from the rest to compliment the furniture and the aesthetic of the space. Although this is an homage to the ‘80s, this kind of design can be combined with contemporary elements to make it feel modern and timeless for an interior.”

4. Tastefully include playful graphics

“One of our favorite methods for integrating ‘80s decor trends into a contemporary interior involves the use of playful graphic touches,” suggests furniture seller France and Son Canada. “We believe that incorporating elements such as lightning bolts, zebra stripes, squiggles, and other abstract shapes into accessories is a fantastic way to infuse a space with the vibrant and dynamic spirit of the ‘80s. By strategically placing these lively patterns on items like throw pillows, rugs, or wall art, you can evoke the nostalgia of the 1980s while maintaining a sleek and modern aesthetic.”

5. Keep your ‘80s design timeless 

To make ’80s design timeless, focus on incorporating iconic elements selectively rather than overwhelming the entire space. Choose key elements like geometric patterns, vibrant colors, and bold shapes as accents rather than the main theme.

Hailey Smith from graphic design agency Logo Poppin says, , ““We’re all about designs that don’t just combine nostalgic flair with modern minimalism, but also resonate with our audience year after year.”

6. Choose one to two elements to capture the modern ‘80s vibe

When trying to start adding some vintage flair, be careful not to overdo it. 

Room decor curator, DormVibes recommends, “Our take on the ‘80s aesthetic is about mixing standout pieces, like graphic prints and neon signs, with the sleekness of modern minimalism. It’s choosing one or two vibrant elements that capture the ‘80s vibe without overwhelming the space.”

7. Find your ‘80s style

“The ‘80s were all about excess, and as such there’s a multitude of decor styles: postmodernism and Memphis design, Art Deco Revival, country kitsch, hi-tech, pop culture collectibles,” says Kristina Urquhart, Editor and Publisher at The Vintage Seeker.

“Pastels or primary colors. Futuristic chrome or polished brass. To figure out your style, I always recommend starting  with Pinterest. Pin ‘80s items and rooms and start noticing the patterns. What objects, colors, materials and design aesthetics keep showing up? Then target your online searches for those types of items. Or stroll through a vintage shop or antique mall and pay attention to what you’re drawn to. 

When it comes to incorporating 80s decor into a modern home, don’t be afraid to play, and don’t overthink it. These pieces can easily live with other eras as a pop of fun — try adding a 1980s movie poster to a modern gallery wall, or place a colorful coffee table book, a planter and a 1980s decor object together in a cluster. I love a good “hot lips” landline telephone as a show-stopping ‘80s moment on a styled shelf.”

80s design room

8. Re-think old furniture

“‘80s decor in the 21st century doesn’t have to be distracting, rather it can accent your lifestyle and your abode,” shares Wyatt Bloom from Rediscover the ‘80s. “The simplest can be old dressers and converting them into entertainment centers that can either seclude the multiple systems and cables or proudly display the various gaming systems and welcome your gaming family and friends. Simply sand and paint to your room’s taste.  Two-tier and octagonal end tables were plentiful and can be modernized with a bit of sanding and fresh paint to utilize them in the home office as a way to organize your smartphone and accessories, display books, or as intended to add tabletop lights or potted plants.”

9. Infuse contemporary design                 

“Embracing ’80s decor in modern design is a dynamic journey of nostalgia and innovation,” says Nate Nead, CEO at “To achieve this fusion successfully, consider revitalizing vintage furniture with a contemporary twist. Experiment with vibrant color palettes inspired by the boldness of the ‘80s, integrating them into sleek, minimalist spaces. The key lies in balancing the iconic elements of the past with the clean lines and simplicity of today’s aesthetics. Don’t be afraid to mix materials, like combining chrome accents with natural textures, for a harmonious blend. 

Remember, the essence of ‘80s design is about bold expression. And, like my once out-of-style clothing, waiting 30-40 years has its upsides as everything seems to come ‘back in style.’”

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