Girlfriend redecorates her boyfriend's apartment, sparking controversy about the 'girlfriend effect'

@emmaganzarain/TikTok

‘His soul is no longer in that space’: Girlfriend redecorates her boyfriend’s apartment in ‘millennial beige’

“This is proof that you can’t buy taste, but you can buy Ikea.”

 

V Roth

IRL

A woman on TikTok has gone viral, and received widespread backlash for her choice to redecorate her boyfriend’s apartment in ‘millennial beige.’

In a slideshow posted last week, TikTok user Emma Ganzarain (@emmaganzarain) showed a series of before and after images showing her boyfriend’s apartment. In the “before” photos, the apartment is decorated with a stylish, modern aesthetic, with colorful furniture. In the “after” photos, the apartment has been stripped bare of color, and all of the furniture has been replaced with beige versions. The kitchen floor has been replaced with beige linoleum, and the oven has been removed in lieu of a beige set of cabinets with an electric cooktop.

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Proud of her decorating choices, Ganzarain wrote in the slideshow’s caption, “Every [man] needs a woman in their life.” By Thursday, her video had over 5.6 million views, and over 44,000 comments— most of which expressing shock and anger with the changes.

“Yeaahhh strip every [speck] of character and soul out of ur living space, make it unliveable,” one user wrote.

“this is proof that you can’t buy taste, but you can buy Ikea,” another commented.

“His soul is no longer in that space,” another user wrote. “stop trying to fix the men in your life and learn to love them for who they are and the way they want to decorate”

Across the comments, many users shared their disappointment with the transformation, specifically the muted beige color scheme.

“Millennial beige grey core” one user wrote.

What is millennial beige?

Love it or hate it, the all-beige aesthetic has soared in popularity in recent years. The aesthetic is often a riff on the popular interior design style Scandinavian minimalism, which is known for its muted and neutral color palette, simplicity, and natural elements.

The look has been popularized by celebrities, most notably Kim Kardashian, whose all-beige home was featured in Architectural Digest, to mixed reviews. Many called the home’s decor “soulless,” and lacking in personal touch.

Several videos in which TikTokers show off their beige homes have gone viral, and garnered similar backlash for their “bland, boring” interiors. However, many are obsessed with the look, describing it as “sleek” and “classy.”

The criticism of “millennial beige” has inspired countless thinkpieces and calls to move on from the trend. In an article for Common Edge titled “The Boundless Banality of Beige: A Rant,” architect and designer Gloria Jaroff slammed the trend.

“Near-white is the color of noncommitment,” she wrote. “At some point, Dear Designer, you gotta take a stand.” She snappily concluded the article, “If Neanderthal architects and interior designers didn’t restrict themselves to bland neutrals, why should we?”

The millennial obsession with monochrome

The name “millennial beige” is itself a riff on another widely criticized interior design trend— an all-gray look commonly seen in modern apartments and cheaply renovated “flipper” homes. Dubbed “millennial gray,” it’s become nearly ubiquitous with bad taste and all that is cheugy or outdated. Many consider the look to be depressing and bland, even comparing the look to hospital rooms.

The concept of “millennial gray” first rose to prominence on TikTok, where younger creators would often make fun of the monochrome aesthetic, and for millennials’ penchant for monochrome. The addition of beige, often promoted by mommy bloggers (now facetiously called “beige moms“) added a new entry to the millennial monochrome obsession.

However, Ganzarain was unfazed by the backlash, proudly embracing her interior design choices, offering snarky rebuttals to comments critiquing the apartment’s new look.

In a follow up video, she shared the comment claiming that her boyfriend’s “soul [was] no longer in that space,” showing off more of the living room. In the video’s caption, Ganzarain wrote, “Well he is allowed to have his Arsenal coffee mug in the livingroom sometimes,” with a smiling emoji.

But after days of back and forth and tens of thousands of comments, Ganzarain caved to the pressure. In a third video, showing another panoramic shot of her living room, she wrote, “Give me some good constructive feedback on here and I will make you happy TikTok.”

Commenters offered a mix of constructive criticism meant to be helpful, and outrage over the “ruined” apartment.

“Change literally everything back,” one user wrote.

“It needs natural elements… wood accents, natural and varying textures and colors,” another suggested. “It’s too bland and cold rn.”

Others insisted that the only way to salvage the aesthetic was for Ganzarain to return creative control over the apartment’s look to her boyfriend.

“Honest feedback?” one user wrote, “Let him design it.”

The Daily Dot reached out to Ganzarain via TikTok comment.

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