Interiors: Be inspired by the 1970s when styling your home for summer

Wild Flowers wallpaper by Esta Home, available from

Wild Flowers wallpaper by Esta Home, available from - Credit: Archant

Shagpile, geometric patterns, abstract flower prints and lashings of orange can only mean one thing - the Seventies. It may fill you with nostalgia for bell-bottoms, Walkmans and - that ultimate dippy-hippy accessory - hanging dream catchers, not to mention the music.

If you bopped to the likes of Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive and The Village People’s YMCA, or enjoyed Abigail’s Party-style evenings, you may simply cringe with embarrassment at your dated decor and antics.

If so, avert your eyes, because this is the decade style never forgot, and it’s having another moment in the sun. Luckily, it’s all slicked up and ready to groove again, with some suitably contemporary twists.

While this reincarnation gives a nod to Seventies chic, there’s a fresh, much more edgy approach to what’s being dubbed ‘Bohemian Modern’.

“This is for people who are creative, unconventional and shun the status quo in interiors, and want to do so with flair and success,” enthuses Emily Henson, the unofficial high priestess of the theme and who’s written a guide to creating the look in her new book, Bohemian Modern.

“Of course, you can indulge in the cliches of the era, macrame wall hangings and plant holders, houseplants en masse, and vibrantly coloured kilim rugs, but there’s also plenty of ways to be innovative and contrast those elements with polished concrete work surfaces, sleek modern art and focusing on design which makes this so, so current for today.”

Maybe you’d like some vintage furniture in your home; think a ceiling hung swing chair or a glitzy drinks trolley, but don’t want things to feel too retro. In which case, quirky touches may be all that’s needed to hint at Boho. For instance, suspend a glitter ball from the ceiling, or paint a piece of furniture in a bold, earthy, glossy hue and you’ve given a hint to the past in a thoroughly modern way.

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Playful pattern

Colour and pattern combine for boho rooms. You can play it cool by using a couple of bright shades, or opt for a “rainbow” for a more lively interior, suggests Henson.

“If you get the balance right, multi-coloured craziness can work. I’ve done it in my home - furniture, textiles and art were all wildly vibrant - but I kept it from overpowering rooms by having only white walls and floorboards.

“It’s about breaking the rules - let your imagination run a little wild - and embracing the fun, playful side of decor.”

Earth tones - brown and cream with orange and avocado were the most popular choices of the era, along with mustard, navy and deep shades of purple.

A large patterned rug, a sofa upholstered in a bold print, or a wall papered in a large scale design are ways of turning pattern into a strong visual statement.

Fave furnishings

There are so many ways to bring appropriate textiles in, from the obvious choices of rugs and cushions to less expected ones like wall hangings, reveals Henson.

“Textiles are at the heart of this style of home, whether plain and textured or patterned and fringed,” she says.

“Re-imagining uses for textiles is important too,” she says. “Rugs don’t only belong on the floor - a sheepskin or kilim will make an effective cover for a chair or add colour and comfort to a sofa.

“A striking rug can also become a focal point on a wall, and if it features the colours and shades of the era, it will instantly evoke the atmosphere of the time.”

Travel and hippie pilgrimages to Morocco and India influenced Seventies home decor, so layered kilims and embroidered tribal textiles from Central Asia are what you might expect for a traditional interpretation. Bring it up to date by adding a jolt of bold neon or a gleam of slick copper, to take an interior into the realm of the unexpected.

Seventies statement

Originality is the name of the game here and there’s nothing nicer than salvaging a piece from the era. Markets and car boot sales can be rich hunting grounds, or customising something to suit can work extremely well, says Henson.

“Of course, there’s nothing wrong with spending money on something you love, but when you actually have to use your brain, not your bank account, to solve a problem, brilliant things can happen, and that’s the essence of Boho,” she says.

“I’ve seen brilliant pieces made from salvaged scrap wood, plywood walls stained to mimic rusted steel, and pieces made to look luxe even though they were dirt cheap.”

Metallic-legged furniture showed up everywhere in the Seventies, with entertainment stands, bookcases, sofas and coffee tables, all featuring those short, stubby legs. Track down an all-metal or even low-slung glass table.