What Are ‘Millennial Grey’ Homes and Why Are They Making Millennials Cringe?
Kanebridge News
Share Button

What Are ‘Millennial Grey’ Homes and Why Are They Making Millennials Cringe?

To their horror, many millennials have found themselves with safe, way-too-gray decor and TikTok is skewering them. Here, what’s behind this conflicting phenomenon—and tips on escaping a colorless existence.

Mon, Apr 17, 2023 8:24amGrey Clock 5 min

“OH, LOOK, the kitchen floors are grey now,” I said, juggling boxes as I stepped inside my newly rented apartment. “Nice!”

When I’d first toured the 1940s townhouse in Queens, N.Y., that floor was tiled in ageing checkerboard squares of black and icky-cream. The promise to replace them had thrilled me, but the colour came as a surprise. Then I noticed the kitchen walls were now a seemingly identical grey. A few months later, when my landlord needed to replace the mid-century-pink bathroom floors, I was less enthused. “Oh, look, the bathroom floors are grey now,” I said. “Ugh.”

This decor style—or lack thereof—that I and so many of my millennial peers have ended up with has inspired the mocking phrase millennial grey. “There’s a millennial grey-looking restroom inside the Mexican restaurant,” TikToker @chloeisag sang in February in a viral video with 3.5 million views. The video contrasts the cheery, piñata-filled decor in a restaurant’s seating area with the clean-yet-bleak bathroom in the back. Grey floors. Grey walls. Grey artwork. A fake plant. “It’s giving ‘airport,’” she sings. “It’s giving ‘live, laugh, love.’ It’s giving ‘corporate.’”

As the phrase circulates online, many millennials are realising, to their chagrin, that it all-too-accurately describes their own homes. “So I just heard the phrase ‘millennial gray’ for the first time,” said horrified TikTok user @victoria.thatsit in another video. “Let me show you guys my house. My bathroom: grey. My floor: grey. My counters: grey…Our chairs: some type of grey. Our dog beds: grey. Our walls are grey. This last one really gets me: Our dogs are grey!”

That video has 5.6 million views. “It’s a thing?” one TikTok commenter said of ‘millennial grey.’ “Cause it’s true lol. Everything I own is grey and I’m buying more grey.” Another pinpoints the problem: Grey harmonises effortlessly with…more grey. It “will go with anything…including everything we’ve bought that’s already grey that we bought to go with everything.” A third writes, “I think we all had intentions of adding pops of color but we have commitment problems.”

Boomers and GenXers have ridiculed millennials for decades, but punches from below, from Gen Z and TikTok and the very internet millennials grew up on, are uniquely gutting. And this one particularly hurts because it’s true. I accept no blame for my walls and my floors—as a renter, I don’t make the rules; my (millennial-aged) landlords do. But you know what else is gray? My sofa. My bedding. I chose those. Me. I’m only 29, but as soon as the “millennial gray” snipe surfaced online, I knew the phrase would haunt me for the rest of my decorating years.

How did my generation, known not too long ago for a penchant for pastels, let ourselves slip into a haze of gray? It isn’t necessarily the result of conscious design choices, says Nicko Elliott, 42, co-founder of Civilian architectural and interior design studio in Brooklyn, N.Y. As he explained, house flippers and property managers tend to like inexpensive furnishings in safe, neutral, durable colors, which means many millennial renters and first-time homeowners signed a dotted line on a space that already had gray in its bones: the floors, the cabinets, the counters, the walls. And even when it came time to renovate, many millennials “have been really focused on…having a blank slate for the next person,” said Jen Cook, 39, a Vancouver-based designer and co-founder of Otto Studio, which sells removable, renter-friendly wallpaper.

And the “take it or leave it” gray of choice is often particularly numbing and middle-of-the-road. “Sensible property managers and landlords might say, ‘go for middle grays,’” said Mr. Elliott. “‘If it’s too light it’s going to show dirt. If it’s too dark it’s going to show dirt.’ Everything’s going to push you toward a middle tone.”

Another factor: Impatient millennials want things fast. When it comes to major design purchases like sofas from mass-market outlets, neutral colors like gray are often what’s in stock, no ordering required, said Ksenia Kagner, 37, the other co-founder of Civilian in Brooklyn. “For colored sofas, these days you have to wait 12 to 18 weeks.” For millennials accustomed to two-day shipping, that kind of wait isn’t an option.

Then, as Ms. Cook put it, there’s the fact that “some folks don’t feel comfortable matching [colors]. They’re worried about getting tired of it, so if people are feeling busy and stressed and tapped out, a gray neutral palette feels much more doable.”

The look was once actually a coveted, luxe trend. “In the late ‘90s, when we were coming out of peach-beige-mania, there was more of a high-end design movement about gray and dark woods,” said Mr. Elliott. That trickled down into mass-market decor options. Now, as the design pendulum swings back around to beiges, a gray palette can seem dated, and millennials are realizing to their dismay that they’ve been living life in colorless spaces for the past several years.

Of course, to some, a simple gray palette might seem like a relaxing choice after a stressful day at work. “I think gray just feels very comfortable,” said Nathaniel Dressler, 24, who is enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and recently bought and redecorated a home with mostly gray furnishings in Panama City, Fla. When he moved in, the walls were green and blue and, to him, seemed “really busy.” After he muted the look by painting it gray, “it felt very peaceful and calming.” Like me, he first encountered the phrase “millennial gray” on TikTok and found it amusing (though, by most definitions, he is technically a member of Gen Z). “We had just picked out the colors for our walls and floors and cabinets, and our furniture was already [grey]…Then when I saw it on TikTok, I was like, ‘Oh, this is definitely what they’re talking about.’”

Mr. Dressler said he notices lots of neutral colour choices among his peers, a contrast to the home he grew up in with its yellow and red accent walls. “Every generation wants to move against whatever their parents had as decor,” says Ms. Cook. “For our parents, it was the Tuscan kitchens, for their parents, maybe it was pastels in the ’50s.” At least one TikToker agrees: “As a millennial with a lot of gray walls…I grew up at a time when it was appropriate for everyone to have this faux Tuscan kitchen,” @corndogbicep said in a video. “So what do millennials do with such traumatizing life circumstances? Well, we all decided to have a mental health crisis simultaneously. This is not farmhouse gray; this is asylum gray. We’re living in peace now.”

So what’s on deck for the next generation of home decor enthusiasts? The bolder, the better, said Ms. Cook. “Gen Z is more open…to the idea that your home can be a reflection of your personality, and they’re really going for the big, saturated colors,” she said, noting the difference in shopping habits she’s observed among buyers of her removable wallpaper. “We do have a lot of neutral and softer color palettes—and nobody’s buying it,” she said of Gen Z tastes. “Everyone’s getting the hot pink, the bright blue. It’s kind of wild.”


Realized you’re living in a dull daze at home? How to break the cycle.

  • Think of color as an investment in your happiness. “Our homes impact our mental health so much,” says Ms. Cook. “Ask yourself: Am I inspired by warm, citrusy colors? Am I into pastels? Do I want to go big and bold with some neon touches?”
  • If you want to work with the gray you’ve already got:Pull in complementary colors throughout your space. Try sophisticated versions of primary colors, like oxblood, a deep yellow or cobalt blue. “These colors would help bring electricity and contrast to a dull gray space,” Mr. Elliott said.
  • Finally, if you’re dead-set on gray walls, at least choose the right one. Wickham Gray by Benjamin Moore is a go-to gray paint that Ms. Kagner and Mr. Elliott have used in multiple projects. “It’s beautiful,” he said. “There’s a little bit of green in it, a little bit of blue in it, and there’s a richness that will change over time. It absorbs colors, it reflects light throughout the day, and it has different moods.”


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
Car Dealers on Why Some Customers Hesitate With EVs
By SEAN MCLAIN 11/12/2023
Going warm and fuzzy for the 2024 Pantone Colour of the Year
3 Reasons You Should Buy a Stick Vacuum—And 3 Reasons They Suck
By KATE MORGAN 08/12/2023
Car Dealers on Why Some Customers Hesitate With EVs

Concern about electric vehicles’ appeal is mounting as some customers show a reluctance to switch

Mon, Dec 11, 2023 4 min

Auto dealers across many parts of the country say electric vehicles are becoming too hard a sell for buyers worried about the range, reliability and price of these models.

When Paul LaRochelle heard Ford Motor was coming out with an electric pickup truck, the dealer was excited about the prospects for his business.

“We thought we could build a million of them and sell them,” said LaRochelle, a vice president at Sheehy Auto Stores, which sells vehicles from a dozen brands in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

The reality has been less positive. On Sheehy’s car lots, LaRochelle says there is a six- to 12-month supply of EVs, compared with a month of gasoline-powered vehicles.

With automakers set to release a barrage of new electric models in the coming years, concerns are mounting among auto retailers about whether the technology will have broader appeal given that many customers are still reluctant to make the switch.

Battery-powered models have been piling up on car lotsdealers say, as EV sales growth has slowed in the U.S. this year. Car companies have been offering a combination of discounts and lower interest-rate deals in an effort to juice demand. But it hasn’t been enough, because buyer reticence extends beyond the price tag, dealers say.

“I’m not hearing the consumer confidence in the technology,” said Mary Rice, dealer principal at Toyota of Greensboro in North Carolina. “People aren’t beating down the door to buy these things, and they all have a different excuse why they aren’t buying one.”

Customers cite concerns about vehicles burning through a battery charge faster in cold weather or not being able to travel as far as they expected on a single charge, dealers say. Potential buyers also worry that chargers aren’t as readily accessible as gas stations or might be broken.

Franchise dealerships fear that the push to roll out new models will inundate them with hard-to-sell vehicles. Research firm S&P Global Mobility said there are 56 EV models for sale in the U.S. this year, and the number is expected to nearly double to 100 next year.

“I start to think, you know maybe we should just all pump the brakes a little bit,” Rice said.

A group of dealers expressed their concerns about the government’s role in pushing electric vehicles in a letter last month to President Biden.

A Toyota Motor spokesman said the majority of dealers have become “increasingly more confident in their ability to sell Toyota EV products.”

At Ford, the company’s electric-vehicle sales are rising, including for its F-150 Lightning pickup, but demand isn’t evenly spread across the country, according to a spokesman.

Dealers say that after selling an EV, they sometimes hear complaints about charging and the vehicles not always meeting their advertised range. In some cases, customers seek to return them to the dealer shortly after buying them.

“We have a steady number of clients that have attempted to or flat out returned their car,” said Sheehy’s LaRochelle.

While EVs remain a small but rapidly expanding part of the new-car market, the pace of growth has slowed this year. Electric-vehicle sales increased 48% in the first 11 months, compared with a 69% jump during the same period in 2022, according to Motor Intelligence. Sales remain concentrated in a few states, with California accounting for the largest chunk, S&P Global Mobility data found.

The cooling growth has raised broader questions in the industry about whether car companies face a temporary hurdle or a longer-term demand challenge. Automakers have invested billions of dollars to bring more EV models to the market, and many analysts and car executives say they remain optimistic that sales will continue to expand.

“Although the rate of growth has slowed recently, EV demand is clearly moving in the right direction,” said General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra on a recent conference call with analysts. A combination of more affordable model options and better charging infrastructure would help encourage more people to buy electric vehicles, she said.

There are also varying views within the dealer community about how quickly buyers will adopt the technology.In hot spots for electric-vehicle demand, such as Los Angeles, dealers say their battery-powered models are some of their top sellers. Those popular EV markets also tend to have more mature public charging networks.

Selling an electric car or truck outside of those demand centres is proving more difficult.

Longtime EV owner Carmella Roehrig thought she was ready to go full-electric and sold her backup gasoline vehicle. But after the 62-year-old North Carolina resident found herself stranded last year in a rural area of South Carolina, she changed her mind. Roehrig’s Tesla Model S got a flat tire, but none of the stores in the area carried tires for a Tesla. She ended up paying a worker at a nearby shop to drive her home.

Roehrig still has her Tesla but bought a pickup truck for long road trips.

Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“I have these conversations with people who say we’ll all be in EVs in 15 years. I say: ‘I’m not so sure. I’ve tried to do it,’” Roehrig said. “I think you need a gas backup.”

Customers who want to ditch their gas vehicle for environmental reasons are sometimes hesitant, said Mickey Anderson, president of Baxter Auto Group, which owns dealerships in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado.

“We’re in the Colorado Springs market. If this is your sole mode of transportation, and you’re in a market in extremes of elevation and temperature, the actual range is very limited,” Anderson said. “It makes it extremely impractical.”

Dealers representing around 4,000 stores across the U.S. signed the letter in November addressed to Biden, saying the administration’s proposed auto-emissions regulations designed to promote electric-vehicle sales are unrealistic. The signatories ranged from stores owned by family businesses to publicly held giants such as AutoNation and Lithia Motors.

“Some customers are in the market for electric vehicles, and we are thrilled to sell them. But the majority of customers are simply not ready to make the change,” the letter said.

Some carmakers are pushing back EV-rollout plans. GM said in mid-October that it would delay the opening of an electric pickup plant by a year to late 2025. In response to weaker-than-expected consumer demand, Ford said in late October that it would defer $12 billion of planned spending on electric-vehicle investment.

Since September, dealers on average took more than two months to sell an EV, compared with 40 days for all vehicles, according to car-shopping website Edmunds.

While discounts have helped boost sales of some electric vehicles, they also have led to repercussions for some current owners because it reduces the value of their vehicles, dealers say.

“Most people don’t have the confidence to buy an EV and know what it will be worth in 10-15 years,” said Rice from the Toyota dealership.

It may take some time for the industry to adjust because it is still in an early stage of switching to electric vehicles, Sheehy’s LaRochelle said.

“We’re asking for this market to grow organically,” he said.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
Surplus to requirements: Australians are making more energy than we can use
Princess Diana’s Blouse, an Animatronic E.T. Head, and ‘Big Lebowski’ Robe Headline Memorabilia Auction
By Eric Grossman 30/11/2023
Not sure about that apartment purchase? Check out the new digital tool bringing surety back
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop