H&G in the 1980s and 1990s


Bestseller ‘The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady’ and the Laura Ashley effect meant There was more draping, swagging and ruching than Spandau Ballet’s wardrobe and we all went potty for paint effects, with regular guides to stippling and scumbling. Inevitably the magazine got very excited about the Royal Wedding, imagining a drawing room design for Highgrove, in sunny blue and buttercup chintz, as a gift to Charles and Di.

Top of the shops were the compact disc and anything from the Next Home catalogue. Early adopters embraced loft living and while not everyone could spend ‘A Year in Provence’ (as promoted in Peter Mayle’s bestseller) a preponderance of terracotta, wrought iron and linen meant we could live as if we had.

Contributing writers included the likes of Jeffrey Archer, Paula Yates and Valerie Singleton. Perrier, Ernesto & Julio Gallo and, alarmingly, Benson & Hedges held prime ad positions.

Hot H&G topics: How to a make the most of a 
small urban garden.

KEY INFLUENCES IN THE 1980s and 1990s


Discover more of the history of Homes & Gardens

In the Zeitgeist

  • The royal wedding.
  • New Labour.

Headline news

  • The Falklands War.
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall.

Cultural radar

  • Style bible The Face wasn’t the biggest seller on the newsstand, but its influence stretched far beyond fashion and music, demonstrating the creative spirit of British youth culture.
  • Running for 17 series, the home-swapping makeover TV show was a landmark of interiors entertainment. Its legacy is the idea of being bold in your home style.

Lifestyle moments

  • Our love affair with flatpack began in 1987 with the launch of the Swedish giant IKEA’s first UK store. It’s estimated that every home has at least one piece of its affordable, democratic design.
  • Tim Berners-Lee’s 1989 invention the World Wide Web was initially the preserve of geeky enthusiasts. The ability to connect with anyone instantly meant before long we were all hooked.

Household essential

  • The futon – exotic, artistic, minimal and way more versatile than a boring regular bed. Not so comfortable 
to sleep on, though.
  • Thee growth of foreign travel and more sophisticated home entertaining prompted a love
 of ‘proper’ coffee, and the rise of the filter coffee machine. Woe betide anyone
who put an empty glass jug back 
on the hot element…

Who knew?

  • In 1987, Athena released its ‘L’Enfant’ poster, featuring a male model cradling a baby. It sold five million copies and launched a new marketing concept – ‘The New Man’.
  • Nothing remains of the Turner Prize-winning artwork, Rachel Whiteread’s House. The concrete cast of the inside of a three-storey Victorian house in Mile End stood for just 11 weeks. It was demolished
 in January 1994.
  • After years of online over-shopping, Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up is prompting a lifestyle reversal.