Some things better stay dead: zombies, vampires, and 1970s sets. And yet, 1970s style elements have made a comeback in our homes.
you started with rattan furniture and houseplants. What not to like? Then ottomans made a comeback, albeit firmer and less likely to leak tiny styrofoam pellets; then fondue sets and lava lamps. All good clean fun.
They were quickly followed by crafts like macrame and crochet. Soon everything was growing out of fringes and draped in grandma’s blankets. The revival of the 1970s had one foot in the door.
Soon after, Irish new construction began to feature sunken conversation pits and floating staircases. So far we’ve escaped the return of stone chimneys, but it’s probably only a matter of time.
Watch out for the return of high pile carpet, faux wood paneling, patterned linoleum and orange on brown colors. They are hiding there in the shadows. Like vampires, they need to be invited.
âThere were a lot of bad things in the 1970s,â says interior designer Egon Walesch. âFor a long time, I would have avoided. There’s nothing wrong with brown per se, but there was a bit of it back then.
âAnd you weren’t surrounded by beautiful things. They were made cheaply and they didn’t last at all. There were a lot of bad fabrics – nylons and polyesters – they didn’t look right and they didn’t feel right. “
Walesch spent his childhood in the 1970s in a duplex house in Athlone, designed by his German father. âIt was quite modern. My parents were good at design.
He remembers a shiny geometric wallpaper and a cobalt blue dinner set. It was manufactured by the company Kilrush Earthenware, marketed under the name Celtic Ceramics, in their “Connemara” pattern.
Now this dinner service would be very collectable. âWe tend to reject the eras that we associate with our parents, and then we come to terms with that and everything is fine again,â he says.
Today, Walesch is increasingly drawn to the use of 1970s design elements in his interiors.
A recent project involved a vintage German ceramic lamp with a shade he made from printed fabric from the 1970s.
âI like the juxtaposition of ceramic with fabric, but it doesn’t take more. If the same fabric were made of curtains, you would probably be screaming out of the room.
Another advantage of using vintage 1970s accessories and fabrics is that, compared to the coveted mid-century models, they are still reasonably priced. In London, where he lives today, it’s relatively easy to find vintage fabrics.
He also finds that when people have a popular ’70s decor piece – a favorite lamp or picture – it can be a great starting point for a design.
âObjects from the 70s have such power, visually, and so much personality. Most of the time, you’re looking to shake things up. You don’t want a boring or bland design scheme, and 1970s stuff is really good for that. It doesn’t blend quietly into the background. It livens things up and keeps them from being safe.
Only very few people can experience the shebang of the seventies. âFor most of us, it’s a question of when to stop,â admits Walesch.
âLet the bright colors breathe. He finds that young people, who never experienced all the horror of the 1970s proper, are surprisingly open to style. “They don’t have the associations and they don’t have the baggage.”
SiobhÃ¡n Lam of Avril and the Bear identifies as an 80s devotee, through and through.
âI will always choose a leg warmer and a fanny pack on a bell bottom, and the same goes for the interiors. I’ve never been the biggest fan of 1970s-style decorating, but I can’t deny that interiors and housewares rely heavily on that period for inspiration right now.
Witness the trend for softer curves and in particular loop, a heavily textured fabric made from nubby loop yarns.
âPeople want to adopt more tactile and comforting materials. After the year we’ve had, it really makes sense.
BouclÃ© favorites include the Rico Lounge line of armchairs and sofas from 366 Concept (â¬ 2,035 for a two-seater in loop pile, or cheaper in another fabric).
April and the Bear, a boutique with an interior design studio, recently moved to a ‘bigger, better and pinker space’ next to the Stella Cinema in Rathmines, Dublin 6.
Expect playful housewares, including HK Living’s 1970s-inspired ceramic line, which she describes as: “a plethora of mugs, mugs, pots and other coffee items in ochres rich, saturated oranges and ripe greens “.
A set of two latte mugs in the range costs â¬ 17 and a coffee maker â¬ 40. They are retro models rather than vintage.
If you desire the real thing, vintage Irish ceramics from the 1970s can still be found in charity shops. Brands to look for include Arklow Pottery, Celtic Ceramics, and Kilkenny Design Workshops. Be systematic and relentless, and you will find them.
In terms of bringing this trend into your home, Lam recommends a cautious approach. âI would go lightly unless you’re a seventies aficionado. Start small with oversaturated home accessories. If you like them, add more. Have fun with this trend, it’s loose and punchy and meant to be playful. So play on, and see if it’s for you!
Tara O’Connor of The Designed Table recently launched an autumnal table linens range, featuring a 1970s-inspired floral design with rich yellows, cyan, pinks and orange (â¬ 48 for a set of four towels; 110 â¬ for a tablecloth).
It’s intense and, for all those who lived a childhood of the 70s, a blast from the past. âI love the boldness and vibrancy of the 1970s,â says O’Connor. In design, she admits the helping hand of her best friend, Koo Donnelly.
âLike me, she is a child of the seventies. She wears these colors a lot and loves the print as much as I do, so she helped pick out the bright colors. It’s great to have a fashionable friend to lead the designs.
If you’re not very confident about incorporating 1970s influences into contemporary style, let someone else do it for you.
The Carolyn Donnelly Eclectic Fall Collection at Dunnes does just that. It is not ironic. It’s not retro. But there is a strong undercurrent of seventies style in rattan furniture (250 â¬ for a headboard); floral print bed linen (from â¬ 45 per single set); and enamelled jewel-colored vases (8 to 20 â¬).
This is a homemade version of the 1970s style. It won’t go crazy and take over the house. Donnelly put manners on it.
See egondesign.co.uk; aprilandthebear.com; thedesignedtable.com;