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Monday, June 27, 2011

Garish Rooms of the 70s

A look at the bold and tacky decorating tastes of the 70s is certainly nothing new on any retro blog; I think Retrospace has the best collection around (check out That 70s Home.) However, I scanned the following images from a couple of old Family Circle magazines that I picked up at a vintage flea market last year and it would be a shame if I never shared them with my readers. Where the 50s and 60s gave us flattering earth tones and the right amount of color on walls, furniture and even kitchen appliances, the 70s took hues and patterns to the extreme. There was no such thing as too much color as these examples demonstrate...

I actually like the room on top...which I'm guessing served as the home office/music room (and note the requisite fern plant that was seen everywhere in the 70s)...there's something about the green and orange that doesn't bother me at all. But the yellow, red, and orange color scheme of the dining room is a little too saturated for me (I do like the chairs...but was it necessary to make the doors yellow as well?)
This room was part of a "Two Rooms in One" series in one of the magazines...the glass/acrylic table and shelving is reminiscent of the furniture that came with my Barbie town house when I was young...the fur throw on the fold-out futon adds a nice Austin Powers-esque touch. But that wallpaper and matching curtain (!) is enough to burn out anyone's pupils.

Lime green, orange, yellow, pink...I lost count after four colors. Perhaps a child's bedroom was the only room in the home where such a color palette worked best. I honestly don't know what the difference is between the "day and night" shots in this example other than the bed on the floor...but I do like the groovy Siamese cat. 

Granted, this last example is an advertisement, but it shows that not even the bathroom was safe from the extreme color/pattern fad. The arrows really put it over the top. I believe the floor is also wall-to-wall carpeted...a really common but gross 70s trend when you consider the kind of thing that can miss the toilet if one isn't careful with their aim...sorry, had to mention it!   

Still, if I had to choose between a bland beige interior and a 70s style, I know I'd go with the latter.


  1. My 1970s magazines are a scream, decorating wise. Many, many colors and patterns in one room. Many migraines must have been caused by rooms back then.

  2. I'm so glad that you shared these photos. There are some aspects of each room that I do like and others that are just not good at all. It would be cool to stay in such a decorated house for a vacation. I can't imagine living in it permanantly. I do actaully have a fondness for the advocado color which both our fridge and stove were when I was a kid.

  3. I like that green room as well. If you ever watch Quincy, check out Sam's apartment. It's completely 70s and pretty friggin' incredible looking. Also, Charles Sands digs in the Eyes of Charles Sand is pretty groovy as well!

    I like all the colors. Granted, you have to have some guts and know how to pull it off, but anything bith burnt orange carpeting has always been a keeper for me!

  4. I love the pops of color - the yellow table and chairs especially. I think I would feel very cheerful as soon as I entered that room.

  5. I've always been intrigued by the '70s. (Although my main decade of interest is the '80s.) The '70s were such a strange decade in so many ways. . . perhaps because they occurred in the very aftermath of the political, cultural, and social changes of the '60s, when the effect of those changes was still freaking everyone out. The colors, clothes, furnishings, and overall mood of the '70s... very strange sometimes.

    I wonder if the excess, eye popping color (as well as the strange earthtones, avocado green, burnt orange, and golden yellow you also see) was in anyway connected to the large amount of drug use then going on?


  6. Weren't they awful, yet somehow bring back fond memories :)

  7. Here's a personal anecdote: Back in 78 or 79 I checked out a book from the school library that was called "Ideas for boys rooms" or something along those lines and featured many photos of crazy rooms not unlike those pictured in this post. I was enamored of the book and dreamed my own room would look like those in the book. Now, as an adult, I've since tried to find the book online but to no avail since I just can't seem to remember the book's exact title!

  8. I want the yellow chairs in the 1st picture :)

  9. If blindness is one of the effects - I'd still LOVE to have that "two rooms in one" amazing. Noawadays bedroom decor lacks the personality it once had.

  10. OH the shag carpeting! (And I'm going to pretend my mom's house isn't still full of it!)


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