Boho decor: how to create a laid-back look inspired by the 1970s

Shagpile rugs, fringes and tassels aren't just a retro throwback - used right, they can spell wonderfully contemporary comfort

Seventies decor is back! Luckily the modern take on one of the most famous – and controversial! – interior eras is a little more subtle than the orange-and-mustard original.

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‘This decade is often associated with bold bright tones, however there’s actually a much more neutral and natural side to this era,’ explains Jakki Pay, fashion and home design director at House of Fraser.

One of the defining stylistic features of 1970s home decor was the laid-back boho look, inspired by the increased affordability of foreign travel to exotic climes. We’re talking shag-pile rugs, fringes, tassels and woven rattan takes, paired with worldly prints and patterns.

‘It’s really easy and achievable to recreate this look, by working with different textiles, textures and prints and layering duvet covers, pillows, cushions and throws,’ says Pay.

Use tactile floor textures such as woven wool and natural-coloured jute to bring cosiness and comfort to this simple scheme. Rugs, from £39.99; cushion covers, £3.99, both H&M
Use tactile floor textures such as woven wool and natural-coloured jute to bring cosiness and comfort to this simple scheme. Rugs, from £39.99; cushion covers, £3.99, both H&M

‘When it comes to more modern twists on the Seventies boho look ‘expect natural materials, tribal prints and plenty of earthy, sun-dried colour,’ she adds.

‘I love the little variations that make artisanal textiles and ceramics unique and that’s why this trend has such staying power and is really workable today.’

One-off designs that don’t fit a mould offer a perfect antidote to our mass-produced modern-day, agrees Mariella Hostrup Buus of Lene Bjerre Design.

‘The authenticity and warmness of the designs and colours from the 1970s have been passed on in a subtle way to today,’ she says. ‘Handmade items give a human and unique feeling, while textiles are allowed to be uneven, loose and wrinkled.’

Bedroom from Tine K Home
Bedroom from Tine K Home

But while the contemporary take on boho style might be a bit more subtle than its retro roots, don’t be shy about injecting some of the original 1970s colour palette – think avocado greens, browns and oranges mixed against yellows and golds.

Ero lampshade in Orange, £59.50, Oliver Bonas
Ero lampshade in Orange, £59.50, Oliver Bonas

‘For today’s ode to this era choose these colours as accents in the rugs or upholstery, using white to cool down the mix of tones and patterns,’ says Bronwen Harris of Poliform.

‘If you are brave, mash bold patterns on curtains that contradict with the rest,’ she adds. ‘Because the beauty in this nostalgic tale is that you can take the era’s inspiration and reinvent it in your own style.’

‘Fringes and tassels are a real thing right now, and perfect for adding to your 1970s style – imagine a fringed leather jacket but for your home,’ says Jenny Hurren, director of Out There Interiors. ‘Think outside the box and opt for fringed furniture, rather than simply accessories. If you do decide to accessorise, lampshades offer a fun take on the trend.’

Left: bedroom from Out There Interiors. Right: bedroom from Barker & Stonehouse
Left: bedroom from Out There Interiors. Right: bedroom from Barker & Stonehouse

‘Mix up your textures with leather, velvet, wool and plastic – it really can be fantastic!. Rattan furniture and thick chunky knits will all create tactile interest, especially set against a neutral background. We still harp back to this retro style for a reason, so whatever you do don’t take it too seriously – make sure it’s fun.’

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Words by Victoria Hrastic