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Photo Courtesy of Old Brand New

Seventies Colors That Make Your Home Fashionable Now

Leave the Lava lamps, shag rugs and wood paneling behind.
Roxanne Robinson May 14, 2021
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The Seventies—or The "Me" Decade, according to author Tom Wolfe—was a time when self-determination, self-awareness, and self-help trends in society prevailed. It’s an era that we still hold onto. Fashion and, to a lesser extent, interior design continued to reference this visual banquet of a decade as soon as it ended. Of course, ’70s music is still on heavy playlist rotation as well as a popular sampling genre. Today, home design reconsiders some of this epic era's typical colors and styles for contemporary application. Nest Casa dives into the shades of ’70s color palettes and designs to discover that there is no need to keep them selfishly in the past.

The Psychedelic Sixties Turn Into Seventies Shades

Long before he would coin The "Me" Decade moniker in New York magazine, Wolfe had written about the trippy, mystical effects of the hallucinogenic LSD in his book The Electric Kool-Aid Test. He and his generation (which included the likes of Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey) were seeking a deeper state of consciousness to ponder the questions of the universe. Aiding them in their journey was bright, colorful art in repetitive patterns that were sometimes inspired by what they saw on the trip

These colors were electric and acid hues. The prevalence of psychedelic color palettes from the late Sixties to the early Seventies spilled over into home design. There, it took on cheerful hues of bright yellow, tangerine orange, and hot pink. These colors were often combined to make cartoon-like, floral patterns that were seen on everything by the 1970s—from bedding, towels, curtains, to wallpaper. Even popular Schwinn bicycles featured bright floral motifs on the brand’s banana seat.

Earth Tones: The True 1970s Color Palette

This color scheme quickly gave way to a more natural, somber mood. The “Mother Earth” movement was just beginning as the Vietnam War finally ended (and with it, a lot of the counterculture that it had produced). Because of this, earth tones dominated the hues found in clothing, cars, industrial spaces, and, most powerfully, interior design. It defined the prominent ’70s color palette.

Earth tones are defined primarily as almost any shade of brown or tan, harvest gold, burnt orange, and the olive and avocado shades of muted green. All of these qualify as nature-inspired hues. Even reds and blues were given a dusty hue, with reds veering towards brick and maroon shades and blues having gray tones.

1970s Color Palettes Used in Interior Design and Furniture

Not everything in design should be revived. In fashion and interiors, the questionable quality of manmade fiber textiles (Did somebody say Polyester?) was nothing to pine for. Other things—such as linoleum flooring, colonial-inspired furniture, wood paneling, and granny's crochet blankets—can probably be left in the archives. This can also include novelties like lava lamps, shag carpets, and bean-bag chairs . That said, every new generation of youth still seems to gravitate towards them.

Some motifs and design treatments deserve a second glance. Wallpaper has been seemingly resurrected from the design graveyard in the last decade. Iconic Seventies styles—such as ombré stripes that transition from rust to brown to orange to yellow to form swirly patterns—work today with the right approach. Even giant cartoon mushrooms can be integrated into modern interiors. Wicker and rattan furniture (like the infamous peacock chair) also appeals to current tastes, especially with the return of swing chairs. Floral-pattern sofas, pod or egg chairs, and pendant lighting are also on the upswing and come in an array of colors and accents that channel that ’70s vibe. As demonstrated on Chanel Lauren Roth’s Instagram, an abundance of borderline bad taste can look positively chic with a keen eye guiding it.

Other aspects of Seventies design never fell victim to becoming gauche; it had timeless appeal. The trick is to incorporate these designs and the corresponding ’70s color palette in the right dose to avoid being too retro. For example, stone fireplaces that recall a natural Scandinavian look; macramé and handmade pottery with a boho touch; chrome detailing that reflects the fascination with space; and floor seating in the form of conversation pits and sunken living rooms are a few of the impressive designs that ignite fascination for this decade long past.

Editor’s Picks: 1970s Color Palette

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Roxanne Robinson
Roxanne Robinson is an award-winning Paris-based American journalist covering luxury and fashion industries with over 25 years of experience. I spent over 18 years at WWD, covering sportswear, accessories and fine jewelry. My career witnessed the shift from print media to the digital age. I gained expert knowledge of the design world, wholesale and retail markets as well as the marketing that supports them. I met endless creatives and business people who create luxury from inception to POS with the consumer. My work has appeared in Forbes.com, BoF, The Hollywood Reporter, CRFashionbook.com, The Jewelry Journal as well in-house publications and websites at Bally, Pomellato, Au Depart and Editorialist.com among others.
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