Scanning Around With Gene: The Shagadelic Seventies

I have a love hate relationship with the Seventies. Since I turned 14 in 1970, it’s my “coming of age” decade, which is always a bit of a mixed bag. It was a decade that began with the United States still firmly entrenched in the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon in the White House. We had various energy crises, we waited in line for gas, watched the Watergate hearings on TV, celebrated Earth Day, grooved out on our Lava Lamps, listened to soft rock, then pop rock then progressive rock and finally to rock opera. We watched the Brady Bunch and Mary Tyler Moore, played Pong, were scared by the movie Jaws, thrilled by Star Wars and danced to the beat of disco. It was a wild time.

Two things really stick out in my mind about the Seventies – the typefaces and the design, especially interior design. So today I thought we’d take a look at some intriguing interior landscapes from several special issues of the magazine Better Homes and Gardens, dated 1970 to 1973. Next week we’ll check in on some of the type trends. Click on any image for a larger version.

The main thing you need to know about Seventies interior design is that it seemed to be the decade of the carpet. Brightly colored carpeting was everywhere, and shag carpeting topped the list.

And carpeting wasn’t limited to the floors. Here carpeting adorns the cabinet fronts, splash panels and, it appears, even the ceiling! The whole concept of carpeting in the bathroom kind of makes me sick, actually, and I’m glad that trend is over.

Colors in the Seventies were very bright and bold, and the term “graphic” was thrown around a lot. Racing stripes and large abstract designs were common.

Chrome, glass and glossy white furniture were popular as were mirrors, which seemed to be everywhere, and the chairs were unique if not very functional.

In my house we weren’t very hip or modern, so we didn’t have much in the way of Seventies style, though we did take possession of a large white naugahyde sofa, which became somewhat of a centerpiece of the home.

And kids starting out with their first apartments were thrilled that black was in as a room color, and that you could get away with almost any color combination as long as it was bold and stark.

Sofas were big and “conversation pits” were common. This was the era of swinging parties, after all, though I certainly didn’t get invited to any of them.

Some of my best and worst memories are of the Seventies, so it will always hold an important place in my heart. But I don’t miss the colors, textures, surfaces and certainly not the carpeting.

Posted on: June 7, 2012

Gene Gable

Gene Gable has spent a lifetime in publishing, editing and the graphic arts and is currently a technology consultant and writer. He has spoken at events around the world and has written extensively on graphic design, intellectual-property rights, and publishing production in books and for magazines such as Print, U&lc, ID, Macworld, Graphic Exchange, AGI, and The Seybold Report. Gene's interest in graphic design history and letterpress printing resulted in his popular columns "Heavy Metal Madness" and "Scanning Around with Gene" here on

5 Comments on Scanning Around With Gene: The Shagadelic Seventies

  1. Carpeted table tops? Wild! Great set Gene.

  2. Thanks for the flash back Gene!! 🙂
    Wow: I remember my parents puke green shaggy carpet, with one wall in a strange, muted, turqoiuse and one wall covered in balck and white “classy” nudes wall-paper. I have a picture of myself as a child, sitting and coloring in that room, but no one even notices I am there when I show this picture, they are so overwhelmed by the atrocious texture-color soup!

  3. very colorful remind me the early days, where people love to use all the colors. Looks like a vintage home.

  4. Why do people have problems with carpet in the bathroom? Do they pee on the carpet? I sure don’t. My parents’ house had nice orange carpet in the main bathroom. It’s much nicer to walk around on carpet than cold floors or a bunch of rugs that *will* slide around at some point in the future and cause an injury.

    • Just because you don’t pee on the floor doesn’t mean that someone else won’t have an accident. Also: good luck if your plumbing backs up.

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