Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Seventies Redux

You've likely heard by now that Seventies style is back in fashion...again.  Much has been written about this latest bout of Seventies fever, which seems to strike those who didn't experience this decade the first time around.  Under the circumstances, it only seems fitting that we revisit a few interiors that were published in 1970.  I don't think we should copy that decade's decorating room for room, but there are elements in each of these chosen interiors that, when taken out of their 1970s context, are really kind of fabulous.

So, what were prominent decorators up to at the dawn of the 1970s?  Let's start with Albert Hadley, whose Manhattan living room is shown at the top of the post.  I'd say that's a room that looks terrific no matter the decade.

Editor's Note: Since I wrote this article last week, I have read two more articles about the allure of 1970s-style, one in Bazaar and the other in T.  I think this post will be the last on Seventies style for a while. 

You could say that the bedroom of designer François Catroux and his wife, Betty, reflects a very specific moment in time. However, you could also say that Catroux was forward-thinking in the way he decorated this space. Innovation helped to drive decorating through the 1970s.  It was anything but a stagnant decade in design history.

The U.N. Plaza apartment of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Schneider, which was decorated by Burt Wayne and John Doktor.  I admire the chrome furniture as well as the David Hicks carpet, but those vertical blinds and stalactite diffused lighting?  Not so much.

The London dining room of Mrs. John Duffield, which was designed by Count Alessandro Albrizzi.  Albrizzi also designed the octagonal glass dining table as well as the carpet.  Just imagine the dinner parties Mrs. Duffield hosted in this room...and just imagine how exhilarated Albrizzi must have felt while decorating this room.

Designer Val Arnold was behind the décor of this card room, which boasted then-de rigueur flamestitch fabric.

A sophisticated pink palette, courtesy of Milo Baugham, who designed this living room.

Designer Arthur Elrod chose this colorful triptych by artist Helen Munkacsy for his Palm Springs vacation house.  Bright, bold colors were a hallmark of 1970s decorating.

Designers Stuart Blaine and Robert Booth used colorful wall decorations (the canvases were painted by the designers) as a counterpoint to their living room's neutral color palette.  The furniture, not to mention that Stark antelope-print rug, look just as good today as they did back then.

Between you and me, I kind of like vinyl wallcovering, but only if it's high-quality.  The dark brown vinyl-covered walls and ceiling look dramatic, if not slick, in the Milan home of antiques dealer Dino Granzin.

Designer Thomas Britt went for it with camel-colored plaid in the New York City apartment of Bernard Relin.


  1. Anonymous9:28 AM

    Fabulous designers, but personally the seventies is not a decade I look back on with nostalgia. Perhaps because I have lived through it once. There are so many other eras with beautiful décor, style and fashion to choose from.

    Lisa D.

    1. The beauty of looking to the past is that, as you said, there are so many decades from which to draw inspiration.

  2. Jennifer I look at these flooring and carpet choices and they are timeless, some of the colors and elements not so much. In particular Hadley's room could be out of any fabulous shelter magazine today!

    The Arts by Karena
    A New Gallery in Town!

  3. Hi Jennifer!
    One glance at the Hadley room, and you can see right away how he ended up being considered the top designer in new york for many decades. I was so fortunate to know him, as you did- and to have worked under his assistant, Tice Alexander, who was also a great talent. Through Tice, I met Tom Britt, and experienced a whole other world when I worked for Tom one Summer many years ago. Style and fashion were always important- and Tom's wife Julie was with Harpers Bazaar for a while. The 1970's were when I lived in your city, Atlanta, and studied under Stan Topol, who was also a great friend to me as well as a mentor. The apartment of Richard Royston was high 70's glamor at it's peak, complete with inlaid black and white chevron floors, lacquered walls, and very eclectic furnishings and art, in a condo on Peachtree in Buckhead. His black Rolls Royce waited in the garage downstairs. Stan was mentored by Billy Baldwin, and how fortunate was I to meet him at the very young age of 17 !!! My poor mother cried when I was left there to fend for myself, LOL. Stan pushed me to move to NYC and the rest is history, only my career was derailed by AIDS and that is very sad. Thanks for bringing back some fabulous memories!

    1. Dean, You really were at the heart of things, weren't you. Lucky you! By the way, in which building did Richard Royston live?

    2. The one near the Episcopal Church

  4. not a fan of the 70 decorating + but Hadley was/is a magnificent + enjoyed reading dean's comment.

  5. I agree about the 70's. I was married in 1966 and had my two children in the early 70's, so I was very much of that era, and didn't care for much of it even then. The Hadley room is lovely, and I've always adored that Stark Antelope carpet, but it all looks s dated so terribly quickly. I'm sure it will be popular again, and today's young with money change their decor about as often as their socks - investment decorating is not for them.

  6. OMG, that floor on the first photo!! Un be lie va ble

  7. And then, that "Stark antelope-print rug"... YES!

  8. The 1970's were great fun, but I wouldn't want to turn the clock back and revisit that era--- unless it was in Albert Hadley's rooms, which somehow managed to capture the glitzy spirit of the times without the usual tawdriness. He was a genius.

  9. Anonymous12:11 PM

    Only the Hadley room right at the top manages to avoid looking completely tragic, The 70s were truly the decade that style forgot and these rooms should remind us that even "great" designers can fall victim to the general ugliness of the times in which they design. Awful.

  10. Amazing how most of the rooms, with just a tweak or two, could be in a very stylish home of today. Proof also that animal prints are timeless!

  11. Yes, I love that the 70's are coming back! I always loved the retro feel of the clothing and decor at the time. These modern versions are even better than I expected.

  12. Anonymous2:54 PM

    How did we ever get so conservative?