25 Hilarious Things "Rich" People in the 1980s Had in Their Homes
What the lifestyles of the rich and famous really looked like.
From the hair to the platform heels, everything was bigger, bolder, and more colorful in the 1980s—and home design was no exception. During this decade, the maximalist interior aesthetic was everywhere—particularly in wealthier homes, where mirrored walls and oversized aquariums were standard fare. If you ache for the era of Wham! t-shirts and Memphis Design, take a trip down memory lane and discover these hilarious things rich people had in their homes back in the '80s.
How could you tell if someone was rich in the '80s? Well, instead of simply shouting up the stairs or walking from room to room, they'd have a series of intercoms that made it possible to ask what was for dinner or if anyone had fed the cat.
Heart-Shaped Jacuzzi Tubs
While cheap motels and expensive '80s homes have few things in common, the heart-shaped Jacuzzi is an exception to the rule. And good news: If you're eager to make one of these beauties your own, they're still available today for just over $2,000 apiece.
Memphis Design Furniture
Brightly-colored, geometric furniture from Memphis Group is about as '80s as interior design gets. And while Memphis Group stopped producing furniture in 1988, the company's pieces are still beloved enough to fetch handsome sums—like nearly $6,000 for this bold chair via Pamono. A collection of David Bowie's Memphis pieces was posthumously auctioned by Sotheby's in 2016, earning a total of $1.76 million.
Neon Light Sculptures
Though they may not have provided enough light for reading or writing, if you were truly wealthy in the 1980s, your home had at least one neon light sculpture illuminating a room. Because when you're rich, who needs traditional overhead lighting anyway?
Central Vacuum Cleaners
If moving a vacuum from room to room is simply too onerous a task for you, the '80s has an amazing solution: central vacuuming. Back in the day, all you'd have to do is attach your vacuum's hose to a port in one of your rooms and voila! It was a wondrous way to clean the floors without having to lug the entirety of a bulky machine around with you.
While cell phones were still relatively uncommon in the 1980s, tastemakers of that era had the next best thing: novelty phones. Whether you called your friends on a device that looked like a hamburger or hit up your significant other via a pair of lips, you knew you were from a fancy family in the '80s if your phone was cleverly disguised as something else.
If your parents liked to have a good time in the '80s, then it's likely that your basement was as much a bar as it was a hangout space. After all, what's more fun and glamorous than mixing Tom Collinses with the dulcet tones of your kids playing Atari in the background?
The primary color trend that dominated the '80s extended well beyond accessories, textiles, and tiles. In many posh homes of that era, you'd find plenty of oversized red leather furniture, a style more commonly associated with movie theaters than mansions by today's standards.
Glass Block Walls
Were they windows? Were they design accents? Truthfully, nobody knows. What we do know is that while they may be anything but fashionable today, in the 1980s, glass block walls were commonplace in all of the most au courant homes.
Sure, you couldn't find sheets to fit them properly, and they weren't exactly great for a room's feng shui, but round beds were a staple in upscale homes in the '80s nonetheless.
The Apple Lisa
While there's nothing inherently funny about having a home computer, the amount of money folks were willing to shell out for the Apple Lisa's limited functionality was pretty hilarious. These computers, which could perform only a few tasks (largely related to word processing and calculations) and frequently crashed, sold for just a few bucks shy of $10,000 when they hit the market in 1983—not exactly an affordable addition to most home offices.
If you love to look at yourself as much as Narcissus does, then the mirror-heavy aesthetic of the '80s might have just tickled your fancy. From closet doors to the occasional ceiling, mirrored surfaces were as ubiquitous in the 1980s as mullets were.
While you can pick up a dish of sea shells for your bathroom today at Target or TJMaxx, in the 1980s, beach-inspired bathrooms were kind of a big deal. In some particularly egregious cases, these washrooms even combined two '80s trends: wallpaper borders and seaside motifs.
Baccarat must have been making a killing in the '80s, because back then, crystal cabinets were in practically every upper-middle-class home. And why wouldn't they be? It's not like you could keep your collection of goblets and crystal chess pieces on any old shelf.
The fascination with fish hit fever pitch in the 1980s when countless upscale homes began to use aquariums as living room centerpieces Why wouldn't you want an obtrusive, expensive, hard-to-maintain design element that's prone to flooding in the middle of your room?
Maximalism was a major theme of 1980s design right down to the era's bathrooms. If you went to a rich person's home in the '80s—and we mean a really rich person—you might just have found yourself sitting on a literal golden throne. And it appears that our current president is a fan of this '80s design trend: When Donald Trump asked to be loaned a Van Gogh painting from the Guggenheim to hang in the White House, artist Maurizio Cattelan offered him one of his solid gold toilets to borrow instead, as the museum confirmed to The Washington Post.
Dot Matrix Printers
Ask anyone who was around in the '80s and they'd tell you that if you wanted to truly deck out your home office back then, a dot matrix printer was the best way to do it. The only downsides to the technology? Expensive reams of hard-to-use paper that had to be threaded properly, waiting forever for documents to print, and finding space on your desk for a machine the size of a small car… just to name a few.
Etched Shower Doors
One surefire way to tell you were in a rich person's home during the Reagan era? Their shower surround. While your average middle-class home might have had a curtain or plain glass doors enclosing the space, your fancy friend likely had frosted glass shower doors etched with images of plants or underwater scenes, like this one from Home Depot.
A bowl of fake fruit. You couldn't eat it or store it too close to the stove—and yet, your house in the '80s wasn't fashionably decorated without it.
Sure, your extravagant sunroom might not have had air conditioning to get you through the summer, and its lack of heating might have made it unpleasant to spend time in during the winter months, but those three months a year during which it was comfortable enough to utilize the space were nothing short of bliss.
Seaside inspiration was an essential component of '80s architecture. Thanks to this nautical trend, porthole-inspired windows were just another implausible—and uncurtainable—part of well-to-do '80s homes.
The only thing more perilous than a steep staircase? One surrounded by panes of glass prone to shattering. Of course, that didn't keep '80s interior designers from installing them in countless homes anyway.
Over-the-Top Curtains with Matching Valances
It wasn't simply enough for wealthy families to cover their windows in the '80s. If you wanted your home to look au courant, your windows had to be outfitted in oversized drapes with matching valances adorned with gems, tassels, and ornate tiebacks. The more over-the-top, the better.
For a brief period in the '80s, this upgraded version of your favorite childhood collection was a perfectly acceptable—and even elegant—home decoration. All you had to do was set a handful of amethysts and agates on your coffee table and you were practically ready for a House Beautiful spread.
Hanging Plants in Bathrooms
The plant-heavy trend of the '80s didn't just apply to textiles and wallpaper. If you wanted a truly elegant home, you needed a handful of macramé-hung plants in your bathroom. (With the steam from the shower, it was practically a greenhouse anyway, right?) And for more trips down memory lane, check out these 20 Photos of 1980s Home Décor to Overwhelm You With Nostalgia.
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