Worst Home Decor Ideas of the 1970s

For the next installment of our Worst Home Decor by the Decades series, we’re flashing back to the 1970s. Can you dig it, baby?! We’ll try to keep the groovy jargon to a minimum (key word: “try”) while remembering the era that was equal parts social upheaval, disco, “Star Wars,” and a slew of far-out design elements. And while suede fringe and bell-bottoms may be making a comeback for “festival season” among the millennials (or so we’re told), we have no desire to do the time warp for these prominent 1970s home decor mistakes. If you have any of these in your crib, perhaps a hustle into the present day is in order.

Water bed

This type of bed may have been perfect for the Age of Aquarius, the water sign! But with the benefit of hindsight, a trend that requires bringing yard equipment inside seems downright weird. To make your bed, you couldn’t just throw on some sheets. You first needed to drag a hose into your bedroom and then pump hundreds of gallons of water into a giant vinyl balloon. Which would occasionally leak or even burst. The idea: Who needs memory foam when you can fall asleep to the sound of waves breaking … right under you? Decades later, how’s that going for you?

Popcorn ceiling


ceiling photo: Matt Gross
It Came From Outer Space: Universal


This spray-on ceiling treatment—also known as stucco or the unappetizing “cottage cheese ceiling”—was an easy and cheap way to hide imperfections. Apparently, it was also borderline hideous, almost impossible to remove, and, in some cases, even deadly—the asbestos used in some of these ceiling treatments can cause lung disease or cancer.

Shag carpeting

Hard to pick what’s most disturbing in this picture.

RyanJLane/Getty Images

Hard to pick what's most disturbing in this picture.

Harvest gold was a popular shade for this rug that’s technically known as deep pile. What do we call the 2.5- to 3-inch-long strands of yarn that need to be raked into submission? A lot of surface area to suck up the smell of incense. Bottom line: Do you really want furniture you need to maintain with a garden tool?

Patterned wallpaper

Why simply paint a wall when you can cover it up in loud paisley or kooky geometric patterns? If that’s not dramatic enough, make it funky with gold or silver foil wallpaper. Or go full freaky deaky by hanging patterned foil and flocked wallpaper.

Avocado color


kevinruss/Getty Images

Stare to long and you'll lose yourself in the avocado-ness...

If the ’70s had a theme color, it would be this garish yellow-green, which found its way onto couches and countertops, carpeting and cars. Once known as “alligator pears,” avocados were just starting to appear in American supermarkets as an upscale food item (costing more than $4 in today’s dollars). Even the green monster on the decade’s TV hit “The Incredible Hulk” was a shade of guacamole.

Chocolate brown and burnt orange tones

Anybody really miss this?

Steven Errico/Getty Images

Anybody really miss this?

Two other ’70s colors get honorable mention because these wildly popular earth tones were just so … ugly. Entire rooms were given over to burnt orange and dark brown color schemes. And while the motivation may have been to get in touch with an earthy vibe, the outcome was a visual assault of mud-brown couches and ghastly orange rugs.

Macrame explosion

Three’s Company


Three's Company

Macrame—from the Arabic “migramah,” which means “fringe”—is thought to have originated with Arab weavers and spread by seafarers who learned the craft of knotting jute to make hammocks. Little did they know the handicraft would become a massive fad in the 1970s in the form of what-is-that wall hangings and plant holders (so many plant holders!) finished with huge wooden beads.


This poster sold over 20 millions copies, and countless rolls of Scotch tape.


This poster sold over 20 millions copies, and countless rolls of scotch tape.

By all means, hang art in your home. But don’t unroll a poster, apply four strips of tape in varying sizes, stick it over your bed, and call it decorating. Yet poster mania reached its printed peak in the ’70s, with Farrah Fawcett‘s ubiquitous pinup selling 12 million copies.

Peacock chair

Maybe the back of this massive, uncomfortable wicker chair needed to be big to highlight the popular feathered hairstyles of the day.

Peacock chair


Peacock chair

Fern plant

Regular plants, with their boring leaves, were for squares. But frond-heavy and exotic ferns? Everyone who was cool in the ’70s seemed to have precisely two ferns parked on either side of their couch.

Giant utensils

What the fork?


What the fork?

Take one giant metal fork and place it on the wall next to its partner in decor crime: a massive metal spoon. Were salads just really big in the ’70s or what?

Too much rainbow

Painting a mural on the wall wasn’t enough. You had to extend it onto the fabric of a bed or couch and then continue the multicolored motif on the floor. Where it ends, nobody quite knows.

Wall-to-toilet carpeting

This just seems like a bad idea all around.

Pamela Moore/iStock

This just seems like a bad idea all around.

Bathrooms should really be a place you can clean to a hospital level of sterility, no? This simple fact negates ever installing a carpet that can get wet and smelly from many different sources. And what really doesn’t need to be covered by a rug—the toilet tank or toilet cover.

This article was originally published at Realtor.com.