An era of bold new design, brown walls and rainbow motifs! That’s 1970s interior design, writes Cathy Black. (First published 2018)
Thanks to a change in mortgage laws during this decade, more people in Britain than ever before were able to buy their own homes. This in turn fuelled a passion for DIY and a need to instil greater personalisation into homes – the era of the ‘crafter’ was born.
But while the early part of the decade was dominated by pop art, vibrant colours, emerging technology and newly available plastic furniture (a throwback possibly from the 1960s), the second half was shaped by the 1973 oil crisis, recession and high unemployment. This, for many, sparked, out of necessity, a return to nature and a more homespun ethos, visible in the popularity of Victorian florals and hand-me-downs, lots of wood, rattan and rustic kitchenalia, and handicrafts such as macramé.
Many of us have been comfortably using 1970s touches in our home for a while, without really realising it. While you might not be up for an all-out revival of brown walls, synthetic materials, rainbow motifs, wood-veneer fireplaces and orange on pretty much everything, there are still plenty more details from the tail end of the mid-century era that will marry well with more modern living.
Brown can be beautiful: Arguably the colour of thedecade, brown would certainly not be everyone’s first choice when it comes to redecoration, but brown can be beautiful, if used sparingly. A brown leather sofa would work well as a 70s accent without being to over powering. Equally cushions or fabrics in sumptuous, chocolate brown won’t only embrace the era but also provide a cosy vibe in your rooms.Couple with light, neutral tones for a look that won’t enclose your space.
Use glassware to add a pop of 70s colour: Whether it’s the warm gold and yellows or the bold jewel hues, the 70s focuses on opulent colour. Use sparingly with soft furnishings or glassware to give your home some statement colour without overwhelming the space.
Hanging plants: House plants were a very popular design statement of this decade; it was a case of the more the merrier when it came to indoor foliage. Hanging planters are really popular at the moment, whether ceramic or woven, and they will certainly add a laid back 70s feel to your space. They are also the perfect solution if you only have a small space to work with.
Jewel colour palette: While orange hues work well with creamy textiles and natural materials, if you’re seeking a bolder look, then take inspiration from a jewel colour palette. These rich hues are guaranteed to add a statement to your space, and go hand in hand with the pastels that have seen a stylish resurgence in more recent times. Plush textiles like velvet work really well with these tones and add softness to your space.
Textiles and pattern: Textiles and patterns were a central part of 70s interior style which was dominated by mismatched, contrasting textures, pattern and shapes. Play around with a combination of coloured cushions on your sofa or bed paired with a woven neutral throw to create the lived in chic of the 70s interior.
Rugs: During the 70s 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. This can definitely be seen in the rise of handmade Moroccan rugs, often layered up to make the most of the texture and pattern they offer.
Embrace furniture style from the era: Invest in a single statement piece of furniture in a signature shape for this decade. There is no need to go over the top as too many pieces from the time may look a little theatrical. A hanging chair or a rattan side table make a statement while working in harmony with contemporary designs and interiors.
Macramé: Macramé wall hangings will offer a nod to the crafting era of the 70s and will also introduce natural materials into your space. No longer just for craft fairs, macramé is very much back in style and adding a handmade touch to your space harks back to the nostalgia of a time before mass production took hold.
Brass: Brass is a metal with a raw, earthy quality. It can be found in many home design elements from light fixtures to vases. Whether you want statement lampshade or a few details to accentuate your existing look, brass adds a touch of 70s vintage style to your space.
Pretty patterns: The 70s was well known for its over-the-top swirly patterns. This would be very over powering in most rooms, but if used as one ‘feature’ piece (as wallpaper, a mural or in fabrics) will create interest and a focal point within the space.
There are many ways to embrace the 70s within your home styling, weather you are green fingered, with a house full of hanging plants or prefer a statement piece or two there is a design element out there to reflect this era and your own home needs. And if there isn’t, well why not make one? After all this was the decade when ‘crafting’ really took off.