'70s decor is back - take a peek at the Ideal Home archives to see how trends looked then and now

Take a look at these retro interior trends then and now

kitchen with cabinets
(Image credit: Future/TI Media Archive)

Love '70s-inspired decor? You're not alone, with hallmarks from the era forever re-emerging, including a recent spike in popularity with Gen Zers on TikTok. Conversation pits, striking shapes, lava lamps and psychedelic prints – they've all had a moment in the recent home decor cycles.  

If you're wondering how those trends have evolved since their heyday half a century ago, then we can tell you all about it, with a peek back into the Ideal Home archives. Ideal Home has been publishing interior inspiration for over 100 years, which means that we have the perfect trends resource at our fingertips, which we've rifled through to see which trends are back with a vengeance. 

Of course, bright colours and prints are always available on standby as a home decor trend if you want to inject personal style into your space. So as the hallmarks of the '70s make waves again, here's a look back into the archives to see the trends we love right now when they orginated, from avocado green to bright bathrooms. 

A timeline of Ideal Home's history

Before we dive into the trends of then and now, here's a quick reminder of Ideal Home's history. Beginning back in 1920, it's always been at the forefront of showcasing interiors that are affordable, achievable and aspirational.

Avocado interiors

Let's start with the most controversial '70s trend out there - avocado green. Revisiting the Ideal Home archives, we noticed that warm green tones were a reassuring constant, with the shade applied in the kitchen, bedroom, living room and everywhere in between. 

Not just one shade of green but two made up a statement wall in one of our 1971 issues, alongside a boldly printed duvet cover. As well as in bedroom decor, the Ideal Home archive pages are awash with avocado bathroom suites, with everything including the sink colour drenched as far as the eye can see. 

While these suites suffered a famous decline in popularity in the decades following the '70s, thanks to the dopamine decor movement, we're starting to see bold colours in bathrooms reemerge once more.

And greens also made a huge resurgence in 2023, with John Lewis reporting that searches for 'green' were up 109% in the month of March compared to the month before. 

John Lewis also reported that greens are 'poised to overtake grey as the country's favourite interior colour', with the green velvet sofa trend going a long way to prove that as true.

Melanie Archer, Colour Expert at John Lewis, says 'With connotations of nature, green is the perfect colour to bring brightness to walls, without being overbearing. Or - if you prefer a more subtle style - you can add hints of it to your home through furniture or accessories."

So while we're still drawn to the warmth and freshness of this shade, especially when researching green bedroom ideas, it's fair to say our interior choices when using it are a little more subdued than in the '70s.

Bold florals

If you've renovated your home and peeled back layers of wallpaper only to find a shocking floral print, then you are not alone. 

Looking back at copies of Ideal Home from 1970 and 1971 you'll see that bold prints of every kind were inescapable. Florals are especially prevalent, most frequently found in the bedroom designs. 

The October 1971 issue of Ideal Home was packed full of ways to pack floral prints into a space without breaking the bank.

The issue details how furnishing designer Joan Jones 'made a bedspread from an ordinary sheet dyed to match the scheme of the room and trimmed with a small amount of fabric.' She then moved on to make curtains from the same fabric, spreading the print wall to wall. As you do, of course.

Ideal Home magazine archive copies of 70s interiors

Another angle of the floral bedroom from a 1971 issue of Ideal Home.

(Image credit: TI Legacy/Future)

While we're used to decorating with more muted florals in our homes of late, Bloom & Wild's floral forecast for 2024 predicts 'contrasting hues of Cyber Lime and Fondant Pink' making it big. 

So we might just be about to see florals reemrge in a brighter and more '70s way than before – though we think it's unlikely that matching your duvet cover to your wallpaper is on the radar for this year.

Bathrooms with character

It feels like a hallmark of every renovation TV show, like Homes under the Hammer, to have a segment that shows new homeowners ripping out their '70s bathroom suite with glee.

And while bathroom trends come and go, we think these suites are surely the originating moment of the colour-drenching trend. These spaces often had the continuation of one paint colour across every possible surface (even the toilet roll holder) – and it's fair to say those colours were anything but subtle. 

An issue of Ideal Home from 1971 shows the all-over bathroom colour craze at work, with the red-orange contrasting with the bold geometric tiling. And if you can believe it, geometric prints are high on experts' list of upcoming home decor trends for 2024.

And below, you can see a few more of our favourite images from Ideal Home's 1970s issues. It's green, pink and geometrics galore.

Looking back through the Ideal Home archives, it's clear to see our favourite trends, and ways to liven up our homes are always coming back around. We're certainly excited to see plenty more '70s revivals in 2024 and beyond, especially if it means we get to see more colour in homes everywhere.

Molly Cleary
Kitchen Appliances Editor

Molly is Ideal Home’s Kitchen Appliances Editor and an all-around baking and cooking enthusiast. She joined the team in September 2022 as an Ecommerce Editor after working across Real Homes, Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. She's been reviewing products for 4 years and now specialises in weighing up kitchen essentials' pros and cons, from air fryers to bean-to-cup coffee machines. 

She's always been a keen reader, so after graduating from the University of Exeter in 2020 she was thrilled to find a way to write as a full-time job. Nowadays, she spends her days at home or the Ideal Home test facility trying out new kitchen innovations to see if they’re worth a space on your worktop. Her most beloved and hard-working appliance is her Sage coffee machine though she also takes the title of Ideal Home’s in-house air fryer expert after writing about them religiously over the past few years.

When she's not thinking or writing about kitchen appliances, she loves getting around London exploring new places, going for a dip at the Ladies’ Pond and consuming every bit of pop culture she can get her hands on.