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Expert Contributor

People say that everything old will become new again, and that's certainly true when it comes to decorating your house.

One of the hottest new trends in home decor is the generous use of bold, bright colors splashed around the space. If done carefully, this can look great. However, if the 70s has taught us anything it's that more is not necessarily better.

You probably have some eye-popping photos of your parents in the 70s around the house. There they are, Mom and Dad in embroidered bell-bottoms, their platform shoes buried in six inch deep shag carpeting. The background is a trippy and psychedelic swirl of colors like a toddler has vomited up crayons. Or even worse, it's wood. Dark wood grains. The walls, the ceiling, and the cabinets are all the same color of wood. It's like a tree has opened wide and is about to swallow your parents alive.

Don't let your home improvement project turn into a photo that will come back to haunt you decades from now. When you're planning to zest up your house with a modern color palette, keep in mind the overall theories behind good decor:

  • Less is more. The key to using vivid colors is to not let them take over the room. They should occupy less than half or in extreme cases less than a quarter of the visible space. The same goes for bold patterns and interesting textures.
  • Work with the space. Dark colors can make a small room feel cramped, but they can also make a big, impersonal room feel cozy. You can also make an area seem bigger and brighter by using light colors at the top.
  • Think balance. It's easier to make a timeless design if you balance out intense elements with classic neutrals.
  • Keep focal points in mind. The problem with covering the whole room with intense colors or vivid patterns is that the eyes won't know what to focus on. Just walking into the room will draw your attention in every direction at once and send your blood pressure through the roof. Check out the all-plaid disaster in this article.

Now that you know decorating basics, here are some tips to make 1970s inspired decor work for you:

  • An iconic trend from the 1970s was the use of accent walls. It came in every color of interior paint, from dark red to neon yellow. Adapt this to the modern era by painting an accent stripe or small blocks of color behind pictures you've hung.
  • Brightly colored kitchen tiles are making a comeback, but these can look very dated in just a few years. They may also be expensive and time-consuming to replace. Unlike a misguided accent stripe, this isn't something you want to change every few years, so stick with classic tones. If your heart's set on that lime green color, bring it into the kitchen in other ways like through vases or placemats.
  • This applies to other trendy patterns and colors you like. It's much simpler to integrate these into a classy design through inexpensive, easily replaced accessories. Think tablecloths, throw pillows, curtains, and lamp shades. For instance, if you've got your heart set on the Partridge Family van's iconic color-blocking, use it in a throw rug or painting.


Shakti S. has been a freelance writer since 2012 and has a strong background in English with experience in copywriting, editing, and translations. She has taken on DIY projects and worked with professional designers and home repair agencies, and continues to learn more about home and yard decoration, maintenance, and repair.