Home Trends in the 1970s

Fads | July 23, 2021

We've come a long, long way since the '70s. (archdaily)

Key parties, disco, and Woodstock all epitomize the ‘70s, including a different sort of wood that filled the homes of burgeoning baby boomers across America. Along with a shag carpet and linoleum floor, wood paneling became a must-have decor for any hip tree hugger. They even went as far as to panel appliances from dishwashers to their cars. In the decade of disco, homeowners sought a cozy, sort of woodsy cabin feel. Naturally, what could give off more Paul Bunyan vibes than dark wooden walls, carpeting thicker than Bob Ross’ hair, and a faux stone fireplace from floor to ceiling. Obviously, marijuana takes the blame for many of these tacky decors but back in the day they just didn’t know any better.

Shag carpet, great for shagging not great for cleaning, which don't go well together. (pinterest)

Shag Carpeting

Like bell-bottom jeans, shag carpeting represents a style catastrophe worthy of a PSA. Unlike bell-bottom jeans, the go-to rug of the ‘70s actively made life more difficult. For one, in the history of mankind, nothing was more difficult to clean than a living room covered in shag carpeting. Entire small children could be lost in the tangle of crumbs, hair, and lost panties.

To top it off, the disco kids choose the worst colors imaginable like avocado green or dog doo-doo brown. Throw in some yellow flower wallpaper and you’d think you walked into an incontinence clinic. Although you have to give purveyors of wife swapping credit, no carpet makes for better impromptu amorous conjugation.

The floor that only makes cats and cleaners happy. (laurelberninteriors)

Linoleum Floors

You probably don’t know what cotton scrim, oxidized linseed oil, or cork dusting are but that’s only because linoleum floors died along with the pet rock. Yet, in the ‘70s linoleum ranked as the must-have flooring for anyone looking to impress their guests. It’s nearly impossible to explain today but linoleum actually replaced an even worse flooring option: oilcloth. In the afro era, linoleum, incredibly, exuded class and sophistication.

Advertising of the godforsaken material boasted its incredible likeness to marble or parquet, riiighhhtt! Two factors kept the soulless material going: price and cleanliness. Just about anyone could afford it and even roadkill could be easily removed, basically the Ying to shag carpeting’s Yang.

Nearly all of the '70s fopaus in one picture. (architecturaldigest)

Faux Fireplaces

From the 1800s to today, fireplaces remain a staple of the living room design. However, the faux stone fireplaces of the ‘70s died off like the dinosaurs. These monolithic constructions usually went from floor to ceiling, encompassing an inordinate amount of the wall. The ‘80s became known as the era of excess but when it came to fireplaces that concept came a little early. They often came with faux wood, stone, and even fire! Perhaps in a cabin, the oversized fireplace would fit like Cinderella's shoe. But ensconced in shag carpeting, the enlarged hearth just represented a fire hazard and complete lack of cohesion.

Some '70s wallpaper should have come with a warning. (thehouseshop)

Eccentric Wallpaper

If the walls escaped their inevitable layer of wood paneling, the undeniable alternative was wallpaper. Of course, like everything else in the ‘70s, it couldn’t be normal, classical wallpaper. No, ‘70s wallpaper fell somewhere between an acid trip gone wrong and a tie-dyed shirt. Their maximalist designs would come with seizure warnings today but the homeowners of the ‘70s reveled in the “grooviness.”

Generally, once the copious amounts of drugs wore off, after about 10 years, people came to their senses. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with a hint of eccentricity but when you combine shag, linoleum, and garish wallpaper, you’ve created a tornado of outlandishness that borders on bizarre. Still, you can’t really blame anyone; after all, it was the ‘70s.

Tags: faux fireplace | linoleum floors | shag carpeting

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Kellar Ellsworth


Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!