So retro: How the 70s lives on in our homes
- Credit: Archant
From glitterballs to G-Plan, seventies trends are back in vogue. These are some of the best bits brightening up our homes.
Nothing gave me more of a Monday morning feeling than the bubble and hiss that used to rumble its way across the landing from my parents’ bedroom.
The bubbling would grow louder and the hissing more shrill the closer it got to 7am when, like a child building to a major strop, it would take a deep breath and blast out a loud, continuous beep.
That was the alarm, by the way, not that it was needed. That slow boiling of water woke the whole house up long before.
Anyway, it meant tea was served; poured out on the bedside table through a thin, arching tube from the top of a cube of a kettle too hot to touch without oven gloves.
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But this was the seventies and the age of the teasmade, the bane of my teenage life but something no home could be without.
The modern equivalents are slick, convenient and not nearly as intrusive. And they’re back in a big way – just like pouffes and polyester, glitterballs and G-Plan – all similarly upgraded for the age as inventive home designs embrace elements of a decade where style knew no bounds.
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Thomas d’Estienne d’Orves, co-owner of the online French vintage furniture supplier PIB, sees the seventies as an iconic era of style; one that was confident and bold and translates easily into current thinking on interiors.
“The Seventies’ contributions in architecture, furniture design and interior decorating were significant so it’s not surprising that we continue drawing inspiration from that decade.
“The designs are nostalgic and individual pieces complement the current interior style. Design trends are cyclical and elements of seventies eclectic look tend to be popular after a period dominated by sleek and minimalistic style.”
For some time retailers have been reporting increased sales for throwback items; everything from polished wooden chairs to macramé cushions.
Big, scented candles – the ones that used to mask the smell of those packet curries we all loved so much back in the day - started to reappear and heavily-patterned prints were suddenly being papered over magnolia walls.
That said, there was never a great appetite for recreating entire living rooms full of rainbow motifs and wood veneer fireplaces.
It’s been more of a mix-and-match affair; modernising, personalising and counterbalancing the look. And some of it can be quite tasteful, if you skip those busty mannequin floor lamps and ceiling mirrors and don’t go too mad with the orange paint.
“The sixties and seventies still play a huge part in inspiring many of the creative aspects of our daily lives,” says Rachel Kenny, Head of Design at the online wall-coverings specialist Wallsauce.com.
“The music we listen to, the clothes we wear - that’s why it’s such an influential trend in interior design. It was a bold and diverse era in time that people just can’t help going back to. Using these bold patterns in contrast with clean, modern furnishings and muted colours brings in that retro look, without feeling outdated.”
Seventies designs were reinterpreted for the catwalk last summer with the likes of Chloe and Gucci setting a trend for interior designers and retailers, struck by the sheer confidence of pattern and colour.
But it’s the individual, statement items that remain popular today. I recently saw one of those Chestnut sideboards everyone seemed to have back in the day: wide, cavernous enough to take all the Sunday best crockery, cutlery sets and heaving family albums and sturdy enough to stop the hi fi rocking when someone danced next to it in Elton John shoes. But set against fresh, white walls it stood out as a contemporary antique.
As did a telephone table seat, the sort I hadn’t seen since my parents bought one for the hallway. I thought it was the furniture equivalent of driving gloves. In fact, I only ever remember either of them standing next to it to take a call.
Not sure there are many phones that tie handsets to them with three feet of coiled cable these days but the striking velvet cushions, contrasting in mustard and grey added a touch of 50s chic to a hallway with lots of vintage Hollywood on the walls.
Pouffes have also made a comeback. Remember them? The unsung living room heroes; lazily indulgent as a footstool and handy as an extra chair when one too many guests turn up.
Harley and Lola added them to their range only a year ago and began offering them in a host of materials, including wool, jute, denim, leather, cotton, hemp and natural cow hide.
They tell me they’re especially popular with women who tend to buy them a couple at a time and add an affordable “pop of colour” to a room without committing to large statement pieces of furniture.
Don’t be afraid to mix furniture from different eras. After all, that in essence was what the seventies was all about; a decade that began by carrying forward the pop art and vibrant colours of the sixties before an oil crisis and recession turned our heads to all things natural and homespun.
As for the teasmade, they’ve been creeping back for some time. Tatler’s gadget guru Emma Freud even made it her 2013 gadget of the year, saying she loved hers like one of her own children.
And a recent Mumsnet discussion couldn’t sing their praises loudly enough, apart from the occasional, rather sensible observation such as “how do you keep the milk cold all night on a bedside table?”
Well, that was never a problem in our house. Apart from a few months in the summer, the mornings were freezing. It was the seventies after all. Some of us were still burning logs in the grate.