Most people take pride in where they live, and want a home with aesthetic appeal. Millennials, on the other hand, need one. We’re addicted to creating atmospheric, fancy candle-lit spaces that look good in real life, and even better on Instagram (even if we’d never admit it). For the past decade, the mid-century modern aesthetic has sheparded our design sensibilities as the epitome of cool. But as you may have heard, we're in the midst of a vibe shift, and it’s time to give the people a new (retro) aesthetic to take the throne. There's a clear direction in which we, the vibe-thirsty, should pivot: 1980s Cocaine Decor.
If MCM gave us Googie legs on our credenzas, and looked great with muted millennial color palettes, terrazzo countertops, and teak chairs, then Cocaine Decor pulled the rug out from under us during the last hour of the part, spilled its ashtray in the process, and dimmed the lights down low. It's a design aesthetic rooted in dramatic, slippery furniture, and possessing the sex appeal of an unbothered, mustached horndog in a Versace bathrobe, all with the freaky lighting from the OG Ghostbusters. Think Scarface, Art Deco revival, Lucite furniture, and Sharon Stone in Casino… or Basic Instinct… or pretty much anything. If MCM decor was about feeling comfortable and uncluttered, then Cocaine Decor is all about showing off, and turning up the volume on form, color, and El Chapo energy. One of the best social media accounts covering this trend is Twitter’s @CocaineDecor (exactly what it sounds like), which was founded in the summer of 2020 to serve us all the neon-lit, Miami nights we’ve been dreaming about from afar.
Frankly, we've been overdue for a change in mainstream interior design. “Mid-century modern can never truly go out of style,” explains @CyberExBoyfriend, who has received over 8 million likes on TikTok for his hot takes on decor (and for beautifully roasting McMansions). “But when it’s on every millennial mommy blogger’s Instagram explore page as well as their feed, it gets a little tired.” Admittedly, he continues, the glass tables and Art Deco angles of Cocaine Decor are a little less family-friendly than a puffy bouclé couch. But that’s the point: No babies here, dude. Just babes. “Cocaine Decor offers a blast from a more joyful time: pictures of dementedly enthusiastic black lacquer and brass built-in cabinets or all-marble and mirror bathrooms,” explains a 2021 GQ article. The piece anticipated America’s renewed, giddy obsession with the aesthetic, sniffing out its presence in everything from the shifting vibe at stores such as CB2 to the synth-heavy, neon-lit 2021 Super Bowl halftime show with The Weeknd, all resulting in an increased demand for “tessellated travertine and glass coffee tables and monstrous white leather sofas from Italy,” the author concluded.
The Consumer Aesthetics Research Institute (CARI), pins it as a sugar-booger-fueled incarnation of the times-of-plenty energy that thrived in the 1980s, and describes it as "a melange of Art Deco [and] Streamline Moderne revivals that emerged mainly in the mid 1970s; and peaked in the 1980s and early 1990s,” inspired by everything from new wave and punk music to the chaos of the drug trade and Reagan-era hedonism. It’s elegant, but it’s excessive. It’s oversized decor, golden palm fronds, and glass blocks; salmon-colored carpet, and doric columns meant to display nothing more than your Parliaments and an ice cold martini.
Why now? For one, as a reflexive response to the confines of COVID. Cocaine Decor is the kind of uncorked, smoking sex appeal we’ve been craving during the pandemic, when the asceticism of lockdown left us wanting more, not less. The deprivation of social pleasures we experienced during quarantine and in the tumultuous times since has left a void that only an aesthetic with black lacquer, tiger motifs, and shag rugs can fill—or, better yet, host our orgy. It’s a reminder that our everyday objects shouldn’t just work in our space, but give us a jolt of serotonin with each cheeky motif, and aspirational, over-the-top approach to proportions. Plus, we are voracious decor douches. During the early pandemic lockdowns, there was a massive uptick in DIY projects and decor trends that rendered well on social media, and made us feel more alive from the confines of our railroad apartments (sup, foam mirrors). We know, we know—your home is a sanctuary. But, YOLO, so it should also be your playpen.
If you're ready to turn your own home into a cocaine den of light, medium, or epic proportions, here are some of our favorite design pieces to get the look, from sleek coffee tables and mirrors to full-blown vanity sets and more.
Sled coffee tables
Can you fuck on your coffee table? If the answer’s no, then it’s not Cocaine Decor. We love the composite wood look of this World’s Away sled table, which is just begging for an amber ashtray and stack of vintage Playboy magazines. Glass and Lucite is also so hot right now, as is a solid marriage of MCM minimalism and 1980s aesthetics.
Think Art Deco revival, always
Your home should look like it belongs to a villain who smokes long cigarettes and wears archival Halston, which means you need to find Art Deco revival pieces such as this Amilliona Barrel Chair, which is one of our favorite early deals from Wayfair’s biggest sale of the year.
You’re also going to require some dramatic, embossed wall art, such as these spooky-sexy Calla lilies.
Anything with pyramids and panthers
Preferably, with a gold and black-laquered finish. This 1980s side table would look so damn good with a fern, and a really saucy self-help book.
Go heavy on the Lucite
You’ve got absolutely nothing to hide, and everything to show—which is why you need to sprint, not run, to outfit your home in Lucite and acrylic decor, down to every last banana. Not only does clear furniture take up less visual space in small apartments, but there’s no assembly required on these bad boys.
A strategically-placed catch-all
For your house keys, your car keys, and your… utility keys.
Channel soft cocaine decor
A lot of Cocaine Decor savors jet black finishes, moody mauves, and Patrick Nagel posters. But there’s a softer side to the aesthetic, too; opt for salmon-colored fabrics and vases shaped like fans, hearts, and whatever else makes your pampas fronds pop.
Mirror, mirror, in my lap…
… Who’s the most popular person at the party? (It’s you.) If your mirror doesn’t look like a portal, it might not belong in a Cocaine Decor home. Don’t be afraid to add futuristic textural elements, from bubbles to flowers and whatever vulva situation is going off in this rad Wayfair mirror.
A washable, white shag rug
We don’t have to explain this one, right? All shag rugs should be washable at this point in human history, and thank god Ruggable finally did something about it with its super-squishy, washable version of the retro classic rug. The rugs come in a few colors, but only white will hide your powdered donut stains.
Your art should make you horny and scared
Don’t forget it. No other period of design gave us such nosy, hot, disembodied sculptures as the 80s. Always keep your guests guessing.
Meet me in Miami
Again, the reaches of Cocaine Decor can extend all the way to more tropically bent aesthetics that would befit a Miami drug lord. Work in some rattan for a softer, Floridian touch, or go all-out on this epic palm tree console from the 1980s.
On the rare occasion you do have the lights on…
… They should be gilded. As a general rule, make sure you have multiple golden, reflective objects in your apartment, such as this pair of ceramic Art Deco revival lamps.
Here’s to you, decor cowboys. We’ll always run to MCM for the appeal of a calm, and effortless chic—but right now, we’re ready to flirt with the agony and the ecstasy of building out a Cocaine Decor bachelor pad. May Cocaine Decor remind you of your own, specific, YOLO joie de vivre. We don’t know how long the high will last, and the spicy interior design aesthetic will almost certainly get watered down through the blogging pipeline—but by then, something else will have come along. Dare we say, Frasurbane?
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.