By Marjorie Magazine
Photos Courtesy of Nicole Letts
By 2019, there was buzz in the design world of an emerging new style, or stylist as we should say. As we breezed through a decade of Scandinavian and Mid-Century minimalism with a little bit of polished industrial on the side, homes began taking on a more cozier aesthetic, as if a visit to our grandmother’s house became a stay in our own. Enter the grandmillennial, a term joyfully coined by House Beautiful editor Emily Bazilian in which a young woman typically in her late twenties and thirties displays a deep love for all things cozy, classic, and overdone– think chintz fabric, lots of needlepoint, and oh so much vintage china on display. Stuffy? Think not, for the work of grandmillennials is all about personalization and embracing the endless ways in which one can do so, especially when looking towards the past for ultimate inspiration.
A year like now couldn’t be a more welcoming time for one to embrace a more comforting and classic aesthetic to make home feel just right, and there couldn’t be a more perfect shop than the Atlanta-based Grandmillennial Shop to serve up these vintage treasures. For store owner Nicole Letts, it’s no surprise that “grandma chic” is having a fabulous moment.
“We are longing for simpler times and beautiful, warm things,” she tells us. “2020 has brought us all closer to our homes, and that means being surrounded by items that make us feel comforted. Having items in my home that remind me of my family matriarchs helps me feel closer to them and safe. I think we could all use an extra hug, even if it’s in the form of brown furniture, these days.”
Scouting around Atlanta for these unique wares of yesteryear, Nicole’s own love for thrifting and vintage shopping spawned into what would become her successful online store (now with its own popup location at the West Side Market in Atlanta). Prior to opening her store last year in November, she stumbled upon a few items at an estate sale which she sold on her personal Instagram, and in an instant nearly everything she’d shared had sold out. The next day, she launched Grandmillennial Shop, and since then it’s been an amazing journey sourcing for and connecting with clientele that share a similar passion for vintage design. In addition to the mutual love for grandmillennial aesthetic, she finds it amusing when shoppers share what exactly it is about this design that draws them in.
“[A grandmillennial] is not something you choose to be; it’s who you’ve always been. Looking back, I’ve been an old soul for my entire life. I often chose curling-up with a good book, swaddled by my ruffle floral bedding, over hours of gaming and television. Going with my mom and grandmother to visit the safe deposit box filled with family heirloom jewelry were the highlights of my childhood. My first haggling experience won me a vibrant yellow ginger jar lamp in my early 20s. Essentially, I’ve always been a grandmillennial.”
“I had a boyfriend secretly purchase a Jackie O. book that his girlfriend had been coveting as a surprise gift for her,” she explains. “I’ve had daughters buy gifts for their mothers, and brides buy gifts for their wedding party. My favorite story is a client who surprised her husband with a hummingbird needlepoint footstool because he and his late mother spent his childhood spotting hummingbirds. These stories keep me smiling and hunting (and sometimes crying…that last one was such a sweet moment).”
While she isn’t on the prowl for any particular decade, art deco pieces seem to speak to her the most, especially in jewelry or silverware. And besides the little art easels or quirky candle snuffers that fly off the shelves of Grandmillennial Shop, Nicole’s simple strategy for sourcing is just to look for items that she would want herself. After all, if there’s no one taking the bait, she’ll just take the item for herself, and isn’t that a win-win? “I had been coveting Johnson Brothers Wild Turkey Thanksgiving plates for years,” she muses, on her favorite find to date. “Earlier this summer, I scored 13 of them at a sale for $60. Each plate is on replacements.com for $100 each. That’s $1,300 worth of china for $60! It still blows my mind.”
Grandmillennial Shop is absolutely a great place to start gathering grandmillennial items for your own home, but along with the needlepoint, vases, and snuffers you’ll find on Nicole’s Instagram page, also take away her key advice to unleashing your inner-grandmillennial:
Color is Key
“I think grandmillennial style is hallmarked by color. In my own home, I have never shied away from punchy fabrics. A designer and friend of mine, Maggie Griffin of Maggie Griffin Design, also greatly influenced my style. She knows how to pair fabrics beautifully, and I’ve learned over the years to follow her lead. Recently, I’ve been drawn to vintage fabrics at estate sales, including scooping-up chintz drapery panels and old bolts of fabric on the cheap.”
Be Patient, and Grow your Collection Gradually
“If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: only buy what you truly love and save for those investment pieces. And beyond fabrics, I think it’s all about mixing and matching things you truly love. When it comes to home decor, I am an incredibly patient person, so I don’t buy things just to fill a space.”
Other Key Pieces to Bring the Space Together
“I think one piece of antique furniture in each room (yes, keep it brown!), really anchors the style. A plate wall (again, turn to Maggie Griffin for inspo) is another key, and be creative about where you put them! No one says plates are only for the kitchen. I have a huge plate wall using my mother-in-law’s Old Britain Castles by Johnson Brothers over a guestroom bed. I mix and match blue willow with some contemporary art between my master bedroom windows.
“Don’t forget the power of art! Estate sales are goldmines for amazing original art. One of my missions is to encourage young collectors to buy actual pieces of art, not reproductions from big box stores. Estate sales are a great place to start! You might even find a few gems. I once bought a piece of art for $45 that’s worth $900!”
As for Sourcing On Your Own,
“My favorite not-so-secret secret is using estatesales.net to find sales near you. This is the number one place where local companies advertise! And don’t be intimidated to go. Everyone in the estate sale circuit is so nice. We’re basically a bunch of people who love old stuff and love talking about it even more! Finally and maybe ironically given my last tip, don’t get caught up in what something is worth. Who. Cares! It’s only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it, and if you’re keeping it for yourself, that doesn’t matter at all!”
Home design is perfectly at its best and most comforting with the emergence of the grandmillennial. In all the floral and dark-wood glory that gleams from within today’s living rooms and front porches, it’s about time that the 21st Century acknowledges these simple elements for what they are: on trend, and even better, forever classic– with or without the millennials.
Peek into the The Grandmillennial Shop today on Instagram @grandmillennialshop with sales every Sunday evening at 7PM EST
Or visit their store at West Side Market at
2943 N Druid Hills Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30329