Home décor of the 70s – The technicolor decade still has much to offer

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Petra Bjelica
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Infamous for its playfulness and carefree, cheesy style, the 1970s was nevertheless a very aesthetically influential decade. Even though it is often regarded today as a completely tasteless period, it had a revival in the mid-90s and is becoming more and more interesting to architects and interior designers. Among all the joyful colors, patterns, macramé, and kitschy shag carpets, the home décor of the 70s has many inspiring and stylish ideas that can embellish your space and add a classy final touch.

This busy disco wonderland of an era has much more in common with the contemporary world than is immediately obvious. It was a period affected by the oil crisis, recession, high unemployment rates, and advanced consciousness for environmental and ecological problems. A complete disenchantment with capitalism and neoliberalism were common in the period as well.

All pink 70s Bedroom. Author: army.arch. CC By 2.0

Interior design reflected the interest in self-awareness, spiritual teachings from the East, and a new regard for nature – a lot of which can be recognized in modern culture. At the time, foreign travel had become much more accessible and the emerging technology provided homes with many new gadgets and toys. As much as today’s fashion comes from a trend of smooth minimalism, the 70s came out of the sleek 50s and the modernism of the 60s spiced up with high-tech futurism and psychedelic excess, all of which later made a platform for punk.

70s Kitchen Author: army.arch. CC By 2.0

Opposing influences of decadence and austerity or disco and hippie culture all found its way into home décor. But the main characteristics of 70s interior design style was the back-to-nature movement, funky technicolor highlights, the exuberant use of bright colors, geometric shapes and patterns and open-plan living. The oil crisis in 1973 and hippie culture deeply influenced the interest in more natural lifestyles.

70s Living Room Author: army.arch. CC By 2.0

This can be seen in the prevailing architecture that understands living spaces as organisms that are part of a larger network of their surroundings. The use of wood materials was widespread, mainly pine or teak wood furniture, as well as a lot of stone. House plants were also a hallmark of the 1970s and its urban oasis or indoor gardens. Large windows, skylights, and French doors in order to have a biggest possible amount of natural light.

70s Kitchen Author: army.arch. CC By 2.0

Popular colors were earthy tones juxtaposed with bright and vibrant colors such as sunshine yellow, green, brown, red, turquoise, and a lot of orange. Black and white were used for backgrounds or as a counterbalance to the flashy tones. Sometimes there were too many colors – an aspect that isn’t favored today. Since the rooms were often wall-to-wall carpeted, and filled with shag carpets, hanging plants in macramé, gold accessories, patterned wallpapers and wicker furniture it could feel a bit too suffocating sometimes.

70s Dining room Author: army.arch. CC By 2.0

But on the other side, living spaces were designed as open-plan, which includes a living room that is connected openly with the dining room, sometimes with the kitchen as well, creating a flow of free space.

Author: army.arch. CC By 2.0

The architecture of the time favored interior second-floor balconies or domed ceilings, and sunken seating areas. The main aim was to create homes that were joyful, carefree and funky, while at the same time very comfortable and with smart architectural solutions.

1970s Living Room Author: army.arch. CC By 2.0

But the 70s also found its expression in high-tech plastic, tubular steel, vinyl and chrome used for radical and experimental furniture designs in vivid colors that created a space-age look. Italian designers were especially famous for the innovative design of chairs and office furniture mostly made of plastic. Leather bean bag chairs and floor pillows were a huge thing, as well as built-in desks and beds.

70s Decor Author: army.arch. CC By 2.0

Arc-style floor lamps, lava lamps or big white globe lamps were invented. But the Technicolor decade, whose major symbol was the rainbow, had regrettable ideas too. Perhaps the most disagreeable were the popcorn ceiling, the water bed, and the peacock chair. Nevertheless, if you reduce the psychedelic embellishments and eclecticism and reduce it to a stylish balance, home décor of the 1970s can offer a lot of inspiring, groovy solutions that will make your home beautiful.