The Y2K Craze Comes for Interiors

For these Gen Z influencers, it’s not enough to dress like it’s the early aughts—they need to live in it.

Welcome to The Trend Times, a column that explores design fads in the age of doomscrolling.

You can’t go anywhere online without bumping into Y2K nostalgia. For the past couple of years, my TikTok algorithm has been littered with Gen Z kids who are obsessed with the aesthetics of my childhood. At this point, I’m jaded by the early aughts revival in fashion, with the comeback of micro-skirts, skinny eyebrows and iPod shuffles fashioned into hair clips. For some of us, Uggs never left!

But the trend creeping into interior design cuts straight to the heart, turning my attempts at dissociative scrolling into nostalgic, visceral deep dives into the past. Capitalizing on renewed interest in the time period, Millennial Posters are now exploring what the era looked like beyond low rise jeans—see this ode to the bedding of my youth, and posts that ask "Which early 2000s bedroom did you have?"

But the most fascinating are the young women so obsessed with this look they’ve created bedrooms that are early aughts "time capsules," even though they were infants (or not even alive) back then. These girlies aren’t casual hobbyists, with the occasional zebra print blanket or Playboy pillow. By minimizing any tells that it’s 2023 and jam-packing their spaces with iconic Y2K brands, color palettes and technology, their rooms look like they were frozen in 2003.

Jayden Naomi, a 20-year-old internet personality from Nashville, first got into the look as the trend started to take off in 2019, but via clothes. She started researching the era, and after finding a Juicy Couture jacket at the thrift store, was hooked. "The looks between 2000 to 2012 were so identifiably ME," she says in an email. "I ALWAYS can tell if something is me or not." Jayden then turned to pop-culture, like the movie The Girl Next Door, for inspiration: "Most peeps around in the 2000s had that one family member with a pink and zebra room. She was the girl I wanted to be!" Further inspiration came from old pictures of Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith, Snooki—"basically any unapologetic female maximalist." (A shrine to these icons is collaged on one of her walls.)

Jayden Naomi’s bedroom, resplendent in trappings of a former era.

Jayden Naomi’s bedroom, resplendent in trappings of a former era.

The Y2K Craze Comes for Interiors - Photo 2 of 3 -

The Y2K Craze Comes for Interiors - Photo 3 of 3 -

Paris Hilton is also an aesthetic inspiration for Marcy Vickroy, a 25 year old content creator from Jacksonville, Florida, whose time capsule bedroom makes her feel "like a kid again." "It’s filled with "all of the things that I wanted as a child but was too young to have…or truly appreciate," she writes.

"Paris Hilton is a big inspiration for me, as well as Mariah Carey with her pink Hello Kitty bathroom. There’s so many photos of both of them with Hello Kitty items and an adorable pink Hello Kitty boombox!" she says. "I own a ridiculous amount of Hello Kitty electronics now, including three boomboxes, two alarm clocks, and a landline. I also love all of the photos of 2000s celebs like Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff who have been seen holding Bratz merch!"

For both creators, a big challenge in designing their rooms as if they are Samantha Ronson-era Lindsay Lohan is maintaining authenticity. It’s never been easier to order new cheap stuff online that looks like it is from the early aughts. But these women are dedicated collectors, and they want what is now considered vintage.

"It’s certainly taken a while to build the collection I have now. I’ve been extremely lucky at thrift stores and will go to as many as 10 thrift stores in just one day to try to find 2000s items," says Marcy, who also peruses resale apps and Facebook marketplace to find specific items she’s looking for.

Jayden thinks her commitment to vintage is something that sets her apart. "Everyone in civilization just orders decor from Amazon. (Nothing wrong with that, I just choose to make my life more complicated for fun.) I will go that route as a last resort, but prefer to find the real-deal and that takes some serious sleuthing! Plus it’s more environmentally sustainable!"

One of Jayden’s "must-haves" for making an early aughts room is door beads, which she has hung in lieu of a closet door, so you can see her massive collection of Y2K clothing. "The early 2000s had a lot of ’70s elements with peace signs and flowers. I mix that vibe with the later aughts which took a page from the ’80s with hot pink and zebra!" Jayden’s tip for anyone who wants an early aughts bedroom is "If it comes in animal print…get it!"

Marcy also calls out bead curtains—as well as poster walls, lava lamps, and heel chairs—as hallmarks of the era, but her favorite feature of her room is all the early aughts technology. She loves having old CD players, landline phones, flip phones, and cameras lying around as objets.

"I have a pink Disney TV that I just adore. It has gotten so much attention and love because it brings such a nostalgic feel when people see it," Marcy says. "I love watching old DVDs on it and feeling like I’m at a sleepover! My DVD collection is one of my favs! I have all of the Barbie movies, tons of Bratz movies, so much Disney channel from that era and ALLLLL the chick flicks!! It’s so fun to just grab a movie, pop it in and relax!"

While many millennials are dumbfounded and enraged by the return of such an "ugly" era, I implore them to consider it a reflection of just how bad things in contemporary culture have gotten. "So many have told me how much I’ve inspired them or brought them back to a better and more fun time in their lives," says Marcy. "It’s just so exciting to reminisce with others out there who love the aesthetic as much as I do!"

It’s hard not to stan someone who has so whole-heartedly committed to the bit. As Jayden puts it: "Life is too short to not make the room of your dreams reality. Mine just happens to be very very very pink and covered in Hello Kitty!"

Top Illustration by Ryan Johnson.

Related Reading:

Tidycore Makes a Real Mess

The TikTok Girlies Reclaiming Being a "Bed Person"

Alana Hope Levinson
The Trend Times columnist. Exploring design fads in the age of doomscrolling.




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