Right at home: It’s that ’70s (and ’80s) show in home decor

You’ve probably noticed it in clothing stores: racks and shelves full of high-waisted flares, rib-knit turtlenecks, acid green sweatshirts and disco ball metallics. It’s that ’70s — and ’80s — show, in real life. The influence of these two decades has worked its way into home decor as well.

“Right now, in home design, it feels like a total ’70s takeover,” said Apartment Therapy’s Danielle Blundell. “This time period had two pretty distinct things going on — boho hippie vibes and glam, glitzy disco feels. Which means you can probably find a way to work something ’70s into your home no matter your aesthetic.”

Watch for patchwork and peasant prints, fringe and earthy hues. Shaggy, textured woven rugs. Modernist wall art. Rattan etageres and side tables.


Ettore Sottsass, Carlton bookcase, Memphis style, 1981. Image courtesy of Wright20 and LiveAuctioneers

One of the hallmarks of the 1980s was Memphis style. Started by Austrian-born but Italian-raised architect Ettore Sottsass, it was characterized by squiggle and geometric pattern, mixing of pastels with black and brights, and an overall playful, whimsical approach. Sottsass and his team designed for Fiorucci, Alessi and Esprit among others, and Karl Lagerfeld and Bowie were collectors.

Designer Sasha Bikoff created a buzz-worthy Memphis-inspired staircase for the 2018 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse in Manhattan. New Yorker Raquel Cayre manages an Instagram account dedicated to all things Sottsass, and even created a temporary space in Soho called Raquel’s Dream House, chock full of Memphis themed interior decor. Many important period pieces by Sottsass have sold through LiveAuctioneers.

Memphis originals are pricey, but you can find referential decorative items that are affordable. Street brand Supreme offers clothing and skateboard decks; designer Ellen Van Dusen’s Brooklyn-based eponymous company makes clothing and home goods featuring her own versions of Memphis pattern.


Imola Ceramica has the Pop collection of ceramic tile, with Roy Lichtenstein-inspired art comics printed on subway-style tile. Their Let It Bee collection features groovy, semi-circular, tone-on-tone designs in brick red, indigo, apple green and dark yellow.

Designer/architect Luca Andrisani has designed a collection for New York Cement Tile called Geometrika. Inspired by midcentury op art, there are retro hues, square and rectangular shapes, and eye-catching optical illusion patterns. . Walker Zanger has Australian designer Pietta Donovan’s hip new ’70s-patterned tile collection.


Panels of Roy Lichtenstein screenprinted wallpaper, blue-floor interior. Image courtesy of Phillips London and LiveAuctioneers

At www.spoonflower.com you’ll find several peel and stick wallpapers and fabric by the yard with Memphis style or leopard prints. Here as well are ’70s-style florals in wallcoverings and fabric.

European bathware designers have been featuring pedestal sinks, toilets and tubs in colors like cranberry, moss, mustard, teal and pink — colors that would have been destined for the bin a few years ago. Here in North America, eBay and salvage sites like Retro Renovation are good places to source vintage wares. For new products, Aquatica USA has roomy resin tubs in dark red or moss green with white interior, while Bella Stone’s got a fun one in fire-engine red.


Check out www.roostery.com for whimsical `70s-style fruit and vegetable prints, geometrics and paisleys in soft goods like napery and throw pillows.

Sometimes it’s the little things that bring the look home. Atomic starburst knobs, for example; and www.zazzle.com has several patterns. Cabinet and doorknob backplates come in starry shapes at www.rejuvenation.com.

At www.dusendusen.com, find soft furnishings printed with bold check, dot, stripe, cutout and squiggle patterns. There are patterned pet beds, pillows and shower curtains, too.


In a collaboration with London-based Soho Home, Anthropologie offers the Adriana chair; in a deep terracotta velvet, the chubby, channel-seamed silhouette echoes Italian postmodern design. Kardiel’s curvy Miranda gold-velvet two-seater has an Austin Powers flair.


Pair of Harry Bertoia for Knoll ‘Diamond’ upholstered wire-frame lounge chairs. Image courtesy of Stephenson’s Auction and LiveAuctioneers

At Beam, you’ll find simple yet stylish chairs and tables made of powder-coated steel, hardwood and performance fabrics, part of a collaboration between Gus(asterisk)Modern and LUUM inspired by the Memphis Group’s color palette.

ModShop has a treasure trove of options, including the Chubby 2 lounge chair that swivels on a brass-clad base, and the St. Germain side table and credenza, with an abstract, patterned front in poppy colors, perched on chunky acrylic legs.

Ball-shaped and half-dome lighting in matte and polished metallics reference the ’70s, as do embossed ceramic bases and cane and rattan fixtures. Look for combinations of pyramids, squares and balls, as well as thick glass circle shapes in ’80s-style fixtures. CB2, Urban Outfitters and All Modern have well-priced designs, while LiveAuctioneers is a good place to hunt for vintage pieces.


By KIM COOK, Associated Press

Auction Central News contributed

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