1960s home décor: Groovy, colorful and dynamic, influenced by the hippie movement and the Space Age

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Katerina Bulovska
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The Sixties were an exciting time in American style history. America was changing both technologically and socially. People were focused on the space race, Sputnik, the Cold War and all the innovations that occurred during this period. At the center of attention was the younger generation who were busy rebelling against traditions that had existed for a long time. As in fashion and music, the cultural revolution also had a huge impact on home décor. Everything became more colorful and dynamic.

With the opening of the first discotheque in L.A. in 1964, its metallic and mirrored look quickly became popular for decorating office and home interior design all over the country.

On the other hand, Morocco and India also had an influence, as they were a popular destination of the hippie movement. Life in the ’60s was all about the self-expression and people spent a lot of money on their homes and home décor, since it was very much an individual statement.

Herkimer Motel Interior Herkimer NEW YORK Author 1950s Unlimited CC by 2.0

The sense of fun and entertainment were crucial, a trend also reflected in the interior design. The decade is characteristic for different decorative styles that appeared at the same time. There were also influences from Victorian, Edwardian, the 1920s and Art Noveau style.

Crestwood Motel, Detroit MI Lobby Author 1950s Unlimited CC by 2.0

Colors in 1960s interior design were inspired by nature. Among the most popular were green, gold, orange and yellow. Towards the end of the decade, bright neon colors were used more often. The combination of fuchsia pink and bright tangerine orange is a signature statement of ’60s decor. Black and white contrast was also popular. The final result was meant to leave a huge impact, by creating a striking and provocative look.

Lenox 1963. Author 1950s Unlimited CC by 2.0

Furniture would be made of metal, wood, glass, and PVC. As technology progressed, furniture produced from molded plastic was formed into unusual, space age or organic shapes. Furniture was designed in a fun and witty style. Open shelving in the Danish style would be used to separate rooms in the house. A popular flooring trend was shag pile rugs – almost every bedroom and living room had brightly colored rugs based on exotic styles from countries like India and Morocco.

1960s living-room. Author: 1950sUnlimited. CC BY 2.0

Characteristic for the 1960s are tie-dye, psychedelic, paisley, and floral fabrics. Sofas, chairs and other furniture were covered with fabrics, whose motifs were influenced by the hippie movement and psychedelia.

1960s, Italian made, design by Yngve Ekström. Author: oranges and apples. CC BY 2.0

The bedroom drapes would be made from Indian saris, which were also used as bedspreads and wall hangings. The home was decorated with figures usually made of copper and other metals, in popular organic shapes of owls, mushrooms, Siamese cats, roosters, and daisies. Vibrant colors and geometric shapes were also present. But, definitely, the cheapest and most popular decoration were the posters. Another defining element of the ’60s was the mesmerizing lava lamp. So, people could choose between the hippie ethnic look or plastic space age.

1960s room decorated with posters. Author: Paul Townsend. CC BY-ND 2.0

As the technology of gadgets progressed, the focal point of the home became the TV and the kitchen was enriched with electric coffee pots, electric skillets, toaster ovens and fondue pots. David Hicks is acknowledged as one of the most important interior designers of the Sixties, famous for his eclecticism, boldly colored and patterned spaces. Pop art and op art both had a special place in the styles of the 1960s.

Lava lamps. Author: Dean Hochman. CC BY 2.0

Andy Warhol, David Hockney, and other artists had pop art references, such as comic strips images or faces of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, passed into a home decoration on wallpaper, murals, and posters.

A typical example of 60s wallpaper. Note the pea green and saffron colors and the flowery psychedelic design, extremely common during this period. Author: Domincspics. CC BY 2.0

People also decorated their rooms based on film sets. Scenes from Help! and Barbarella were recreated in magazines like House and Garden, demonstrating to the readers how a stylish home of the 1960s should look. The look of the ’60s is described as clean and open. Even today, in practically any room, one can notice some elements that have their design origin in the remarkable style of the sixties.