Going Retro: Decorating Your House 1970s Style
It’s boho, it’s glam and downright groovy, 1970s style is set to take interiors by storm this year.
From shag pile rugs, to colourful velvet sofas, retro peacock chairs and house plants galore, there’s something to excite everyone about this fun 70s décor style revival. We’re pulling inspiration from ‘The Nice Guys’ movie’s clothing and home décor.
So, pull out your flared pants, fire up the record player and dust of your macramé patterns, here are some easy ways to bring some free-spirited 70s vibes into your home.
The Nice Guys Movie
A crime comedy set in 1977, The Nice Guys stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. The film is set against the backdrop of LA in the late 1970s. They star as two Private Investigators with very different work ethics and styles. Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a down-on-his-luck private eye in Los Angeles. Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a hired enforcer who hurts people for a living.
Fate turns them into unlikely partners after a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) mysteriously disappears. Healy and March soon learn the hard way that some dangerous people are also looking for Amelia. Their investigation takes them to dark places as anyone else who gets involved in the case seems to wind up dead.
Here’s a 1970’s decor scheme to help capture the look of the film…
1. First of all, create some colourful floral retro charm with this Ochre Owl Cushion, Multi, £14.00, Dunelm. 2. Orange Bird Wall Art. £27.00, Etsy. 3. Probably the most 1970’s thing on the list, this Loki Wallpaper will transform any wall – £65.00 a roll, Wallpaper From The 70s. 4. Inaluxe Fabrique Rug, from £249.00, The Rug Seller. 5. Dartington Crystal Flower Bottle Vase, Yellow Clematis, £37.00, John Lewis. 6. Scandinavian Yellow 2/3 Seater Sofa, £394.00, Maisons Du Monde. 7. Peacock Chair, £299.00, Made.com.
Back to the Future: Are Interiors Set to Return to the 1970s?
The 1970s have had a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to design. Criticised as ‘tacky’ or ‘garish’ in its fashion and style, the unfortunate decade has been largely forgotten… until now. Creeping into recent interior design inspiration are the muted, earthy tones, bold textures and – of course – the braver statement pieces that characterised the decade (yes, we’re afraid that does include orange shag pile rugs).
However, we think the 1970s remains one of the most iconic decades for its carefree vibes. For that reason alone, your design overhaul shouldn’t cause you stress or unhappiness. When designing, go with what you like best and you’ll end up with a space you love, no matter what decade it represents.
It is an era of self-expression and individuality in everything from clothing to interior decors. The colours were bright, and the patterns were large to create a vibrant interior environment. Retro 1970s design offers many choices for homeowners who desire a vintage look for their personal spaces. By combining retro elements such as shag rugs, bean bag chairs and macramé accents, you can create a room with quintessential 1970s style.
How to Decorate With 1970s Inspired Home Decor
The 1970s was an interesting time for style and design. The austere 1950s had picked up on straight-lined 1930s modernism and run with it; the radical social changes of the 1960s threw familiar aesthetics up in the air and dropped them back to earth in a psychedelic explosion and when the mid-century slid into the 1970s, a bold new design era settled in.
Discover some fun ways of incorporating interior design below.
Make Brown Beautiful
In the dusk of a largely neutral interior design palette, the earthy tones characterising 1970s colour schemes are not a million miles away from what is already considered the norm. 2015 saw a marked move away from black white and cream monotony to a bolder integration of colour. The 2016 move to a 1970s inspired colour scheme continues, rather than contrasts, with this evolution.
This room takes a number of key 1970s looks but pulls them together in a very contemporary style. The tan leather sofa – the focal point of this space – pretty much sums up retro, but while the print-clash cushions are reminiscent of layers of jarring carpets, rugs and curtains from the era, the designs are fresh and colourful rather than swirly and orange. It makes all the difference and prevents any risk of pastiche.
Introducing natural, 1970s inspired palettes into your designs (hues of green, brown, yellow and orange) should be controlled in contained ‘blocks’ of colour that run through a space (be it a home, hotel or a more corporate space) in themes. Textures, patterns and 1970s inspired materials should be added, but with deliberation and not in excess. Wall-to-wall wallpaper from the era is ill-advised.
Pull in Wall Hangings
Turn your walls into something special with knotty and chunky woven macramé wall hangings. Think of these groovy tapestries as ‘fibre art’ that adds warmth, texture and life to stark walls. With their growth in popularity of late, woven hangings are available to buy in a huge range of colours, patterns, materials and styles to suit almost any décor scheme.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling crafty why not take a class or buy a kit and learn how to make your own. You can use dip-dyeing, tassels and beads to customise your wall hanging to suit your homes unique style. Use thick black cord for a more contemporary look or work shells and driftwood into an undyed yarn weave for a Hamptons feel.
Some contemporary macramé artists have even used macramé techniques to fashion incredibly intricate chandeliers.
Other ways to stay on trend is with large photography. Flashes of the era build the retro scheme, but subtly: the neutral colourway gives the retro-patterned wallpaper a fresh look, while keeping some oh-so-70s orange to a discreet splash ensures the reference remains a gentle hint rather than a sledgehammer blow.
Reinvent the Rainbow
Probably the symbol of the 1970s, the rainbow was absolutely everywhere in this technicolour decade. Again, teaming an authentic detail with a modern backdrop is a winning plan for swerving slavish reproduction. Adding the iconic motif to a pale room and throwing in just a couple of other accent pieces show stylish understatement while honouring the era.
Relating to rainbow colours, some trendy colours were bright green, turquoise, sunshine yellow, orange and brown. White was used everywhere – in furniture as well as for backgrounds to offset brighter colours. Strong uses of black and white were often accented with a bright colour by use of pillows, accent chairs and other fixtures.
Some colour combinations that were hugely popular were bright green and blue, black and white, yellow and white, pink and purple, yellow and orange, yellow and green and pink and green. Red, black and white were used together to create a colour scheme with a huge impact.
Open Floor Plans
Check out blueprints of 1970s-style homes and you’ll see something that looks quite familiar: a living room that flows into a dining room that’s either open to or closely connected to the kitchen. Architects in the ‘70s were clearly ahead of their time, as this sort of setup is still super popular today. Many of the plans also include huge, floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors that open onto sprawling porches, two features that sell homes to this day.
What’s not to love about a sunken sofa pit? Simply lowering your living room’s seating area turns it into a super-sociable and cosy space with an intimate feel. But of course, it’s not for every house. You’ll need a large space to start with, and it’s going to look best in a property built after 1960, or a new build, where you can start from scratch, since you will be delving into your home’s foundations to create it.
Overdo Patterns and Geometrics
Soft curves be gone: 1970s designers fixated on crisp, clean geometric shapes as they sketched furniture, art and accessories. You can still find a slew of furniture pieces that conform to this trend. In front of a neutral sofa, for example, an oval-shaped ottoman would be just enough retro. You could also try incorporating geometric patterns into your room’s textiles. Cover throw pillows with new fabric or invest in a rug with clean lines. Art is another simple way to bring colour and shapes in, too.
Here’s how you reference that maximalism look without giving yourself a headache. The small space and mirrored ceiling ramp up the intensity, but rather than bringing to mind this kitchen, this all-over tiling in fresh colours says airy Moroccan riad.
Love for patchwork, flowers and softness defined a certain late 1970s style. Take the heavy Victoriana out of the original version, and go for light and feminine instead, as vintage styling queen Chalmers has done in this inviting bedroom.
Use bold paint colours for the walls. Choose colours that were popular in the 1970s era, such as turquoise, yellow, green, brown or orange. Paint three walls and accent them with crisp white moulding. Wallpaper a fourth accent wall with patterns and colours of the rainbow.
Add a Little Nature
Bring some swingin’ 70s flare to any room with macramé hangers. Display your favourite plant varieties, terrarium or pots in knotted macramé plant holders hung from ceilings, awnings, windowsills, pergolas or verandas. Remember to make sure your cradled pots have adequate drainage to keep the plants happy or bring in fake greenery for no fuss no muss.
Take it a step further and use neon coloured cotton cord macramé hangers to hold your toothbrush in a jar in the bathroom, organise utensils in the kitchen or store stationary over your desk. So many possibilities!
When it came to house plants in the 70s the motto ‘the more the merrier’ certainly rang true, with many living rooms commonly overflowing with plants. Create a lush eclectic 70s inspired urban oasis in your living area by mixing and matching pots of spider plants, cactuses, rubber plants, jade plants, birds nest ferns, fiddle leaf fig trees and mother-in-law’s tongue.
For your bohemian indoor jungle, you want to pick an area that gets adequate sunlight during the day but is away from the heater or heating ducts to keep the temperature consistent. Use a plant stand or bench to display the plants at different heights to make the composition feel and look lush and full. If you can’t commit to the full jungle look and watering commitment, simply inject a bit of 70s glam and greenery with the odd hanging and potted plant here and there.
Another staple of 70s households set for a comeback is statement wicker furniture. Keep an eye out for oh so glamorous and exotic peacock chairs, hanging egg chairs, elaborate wicker framed mirrors and curvy wicker bed heads in natural and fresh sorbet hues.
A stately peacock chair would look at home perched on a veranda, in a living room that lacks drama or in an entryway that needs a welcoming focal point. A whitewashed version would be perfect for a beachy aesthetic or opt for a vibrant turquoise or sunny yellow for a show stopper that instantly makes any room pop.
Shag Pile Rugs
Draw inspiration from the soft and luxurious shag pile carpet that was all the rage in homes during the 70s by bringing in a contemporary version in rug form. Think about plush textiles like sheepskin rugs and shaggy floor rugs that feel just amazing underfoot to instantly glam up any 21st century bedroom or living area.
If you want something subtle opt for a Benni rug. They usually feature a white or cream carpet pile and are made from 100% natural wool. Plus, the geometric zig zag design will add interest and warmth to your floors, without being too over the top.
During the 1970s rugs weren’t just resigned to the floor but hung on walls, becoming works of art in themselves. The popularity of these textiles during this time can be attributed to the fact that people were travelling around a lot more, which meant ethnic treasures were abundant.
At one time, shag carpets came in colours that would be almost laughable today. While your home’s scheme probably doesn’t have room for a burnt orange or yellow-green rug, you can work in a shag carpet if you choose a hue that reads a bit more modern. Even a neutral, beige-toned shag carpet exudes the joy and carefree style of the 1970s without being too cartoonish or old school.
The rule of thumb for this revival? Embracing hindsight. Bold, clashing textures and patterns can (and should) be welcomed back, but with an awareness of floral curtain disasters of years gone by. All in all, we should approach a revival of 1970s interior design with the hindsight of the original era’s limitations.
Does a 1970s revival fill you with joy – or horror? And which is your favourite look here? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you live in a 1970s-style home? We’d love to see your pictures and hear your stories!