Seventies Chic by Katherine Sorrell
Get your groove on – it’s back to the Seventies! But this time around orange pine and avocado bathrooms are banned, in favour of good-looking furnishings, bold patterns and cool accessories.
Seventies style is all about attitude. Bright and bold, it’s easy to introduce, often quite affordable and, because the furnishings are so striking, less is definitely more – a handful of well-chosen pieces can be carefully integrated into a modern scheme, adding an on-trend edge without becoming overpowering.
Start with the distinctive Seventies colour palette – in general colours were quite earthy and muddy, from mustard and ochre to camel, olive and chocolate. Like the patterns of the time – geometrics such as circles within squares, paisleys and simple florals – these strong shades are best employed in small doses, mitigated by pale or neutral backgrounds. Think small touches such as a cushion or two, a drum lampshade, some glassware and ceramics and a framed poster on your wall, for example.
Typical of this decade is an element of comforting homespun, home-made style, hence the prevalence of handicrafts such as patchwork, weaving and macramé. Why not take a course, or teach yourself from books or online videos, and make your own, personalised pieces? Failing that, Etsy, Folksy and other online marketplaces have beautiful (and affordable) craft pieces.
Include some wooden and, especially, rattan furnishings in the form of blocky furniture made of pine or covered in velvet or corduroy, and cane elements such as headboards, mirror frames and baskets. Try car boot sales, auctions or charity shops, though choose better quality items to create the right impression. A cream-coloured shagpile rug is another option and can be subtly updated with a Berber-style criss-cross pattern.
Houseplants are important, and the bigger the better – no Seventies home was complete without a Swiss cheese plant and a spider plant in a handmade hanger. Complete the mix with some rustic kitchenware, a touch of vintage Laura Ashley, and perhaps even a beanbag or Moroccan pouffe.
Edward Craven-Walker (1918-2000) was a great British inventor, entrepreneur and eccentric. The story goes that he was in a pub one night when he noticed a peculiar egg timer, made from a cocktail shaker, old tins and wax, and filled with liquid. Fascinated, he bought the contraption and decided to try to improve on its design. It took 15 years, but in 1963 the Astro Lamp was launched and became an instant hit, appearing in TV programmes including The Prisoner, Doctor Who and The Avengers. Lava lamps came in a range of designs and were ubiquitous until the late Seventies and Eighties; they were revived in the Nineties and have since become popular again – a retro classic that’s perfectly suited to a 21st century lifestyle.