These Decorating Ideas from 1970 are Still Just as Good Today

These Decorating Ideas from 1970 are Still Just as Good Today

98cac5b8824ffa9dfec076061c9bc13f5981f2d1?auto=compress&w=240&h=240&fit=crop
Nancy Mitchell
Aug 20, 2017

I grew up on books, and, as soon as I was old enough to (almost) appreciate this sort of thing, the decorating books my mom bought at garage sales. They came from eras unknown to me — the late 1960s and early '70s, where bright colors and unusual shapes and a kind of unabashed exuberance reigned. I drank them in, the same way I did my parents' oversize National Geographic atlas, fascinated by the hints of faraway lands I found therein.

As an adult, I've inherited some of these books. My favorite among them is House & Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration (1970), which has somehow managed to transition with me from Texas to a rather tiny apartment in New York's West Village. Recently, while perusing it, I noticed that it seemed less wild than I remembered — but also, surprisingly, that there were quite a few interiors there that had stood the test of time — and even a few design lessons that still have resonance today. Let's take a look:

I'm a big advocate of the modern mix — a mashup of super-modern and traditional styles — and it turns out this has been around for some time. This mix I particularly like: the modern table adds freshness and a bit of edge to the room, while allowing the more traditional pieces to shine. The lack of a rug keeps the focus on the furniture.

Painting a ceiling (especially in red!) is always a good idea for adding drama to a room.

A rug can really tie a room together — and a patterned rug is a great way to add liveliness to a staid space. (Does anyone know the name of this pattern? It's a bit Escher-eque, and staring at it is making me a little dizzy.)

One statement-sized piece of art can really make a room. (I like how the caption for this photo calls this a 'no-period room'.)

I really like the idea of using a chaise between a kitchen and a living space. It's a great way to add seating without blocking the kitchen off from the rest of the house.

I find that some people, when decorating, tend to focus a lot on what color a space is, but this photo is proof that you can create a really interesting room with just neutrals.

The hanging daybed here is a little wild, but I still love the idea. But the real takeaway from this photo is that turning a square painting 45 degrees is a great way to add a little dynamism to a room.

If you like what you see here, you can head over to Amazon to get yourself a copy of House and Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration. Trust me, it's a good one.

Created with Sketch.