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Revisiting the 60s Décor Style

by Roy Akirov
May, 2021

The 60s décor style might be having a moment in 2021, captivating our attention yet again. Call it an interior design history lesson if you want, or just a journey through the most important milestones in the last century’s American home interior design styles. 

The events that influenced the 60s décor style are essential in understanding how the way we live, think and create has evolved over the last few decades. Besides, if you see any room today, you’ll definitely find some element that has strong origins from the Sixties. 

The Sixties was an exciting decade in American style history. New and rebellious ideas were making headways in the mainstream. People required an escape from the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

The Space Race and all the new technologies of the day captured people’s imagination. It has reflected widely in the 60s décor style, with unusual shapes, spaces inspired from the orbits, or the lack of gravity. 

Elements of The 60s Décor Style We Still See Today

If there is one word we can use to describe the 60s décor style, that is flamboyance. Well, add “exuberance” and a sprinkle of “luxury”. Ok, maybe a bit of “excess” as well. 

The progress in science, electronics and manufacturing reflected widely in the way people decorated their homes. It was the time when the first furniture came out, made of moulded plastic, in irregular and space-inspired shapes. 

The interior design of the 60s was highly personalized. Following an era of economic unrest, the 60s was a time of fun, where people started to pay attention and spend money on decorating their homes. The American home became a statement. 

It was fun. Yeah, that’s another word for the 60s décor style—all the colors, crazy patterns, new technologies, and insane furniture designs.

We love seeing some of that today, like the bold color palettes. A bit of neon never hurt anybody.  

Those brightly-colored and crazy-textured rugs from India or Morocco, or the shag carpets and the red-pink interiors are a bold statement from the 60s. 

The main patterns of the day were tie-dye, paisley, florals, with deep psychedelic notes, and these were everywhere, from wallpapers to wood-panelled walls or rugs. The furniture design was sleek, primarily Scandinavian-inspired.

Low angle view scandinavian sunlit living

Colorful, moulded plastic was always present in the décor, furniture and open-shelving room dividers. Yes, those L-shaped plastic chairs were a product of that decade. 

The accessories were incredible, and that clean-cut look and futuristic geometric shapes added to furniture were inspired by the space race that had driven people’s minds to aim higher than the horizon. 

All in all, it was a colorful, exuberant era, and we see echoes of that in today’s interior design trends. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for wall art painting ideas, look a bit to the 60s. You will most certainly get inspired. 

Elements of the 60s Décor Style We Don’t Like Today

Well, your history is history, and you’ve got to respect it and learn from it. There are a few things from the 60s décor style that are still plaguing our lifestyles and something we might not like. 

Maybe the most critical flaw is making the TV the center focal point of the room. In the 60s, people’s enthusiasm regarding technology was high. Today, our fascination for big screens is still there. However, let’s not make that big smartTV the main focal point in the living room. The living room is not just about watching TV or playing on the Playstation. 

That shag carpeting, while cool and nice at first, can become quite a nuisance in time, and overusing it all throughout the home might not be such a good idea. 

Wood-panelled walls are pretty tricky and quite tough to incorporate in today’s interior design.

The American Houses in the 60s

The typical American home of the 60s was filled with bright colors, wood-panelling and everything flashy. It was mainly a family home that also had to be entertaining for the individual and highly personalized. 

The ranch-style home was the most popular in the 1960s, but there were also Cape Cod or Mediterranean style homes with screened porches, garages and low roofs. 

Beautiful landscaped suburban ranch style home

The bedroom was finished in bold, bright colors, red or taupe, grass green, or orange wallpapers. 

The kitchen walls were either wood-panelled or covered in grass-green, pink, or blue wallpapers. Maybe for the first time in history, the kitchen was viewed as a space for entertainment, where you can be creative and have fun, not just cook dinner for the kids. 

In terms of cabinetry, the most popular wood choices were oak, cherry or walnut. 

As for flooring, there was not much to be seen because it was all covered in shag carpeting or other types of brightly-colored, pattern-rich rugs. 

Shag rugs are a sensitive topic in interior design. You gotta’ love them for they feel nice but design-wise, you gotta’ hate them. They were a great statement of the hippie movement, and they’re still around us in 2021. 

Young man sitting on shag rug

The last two years have confined all of us to our homes, and we do see a tendency towards the “comfy” and the clutter – surrounding ourselves with the objects we love, throwing minimalism to the wind, and letting a bit of warmth and coziness into our lives. 

This is how we would describe the design trends of 2021, and shag rugs fit into this scheme. So, we might see a lot of them covering our wood floors in the future. Who knows? 

However, let’s not forget that hardwood flooring still remains crucial for boosting a home’s resale value these days. 

The 60s American living room was a happy marriage between bright colors, wallpapers, wooden walls and a big sectional sofa.  This type of couch rose to fame in the 1940s, and by the 1960s, it was pretty standard for every American home to have one. 

The 60s American living room

Would you Bring Back the Interior Design of the 60s?

So, as we have seen, the interior design of the 60s was bold, expressive. It was a mixture of clean lines, audacious bright colors and patterns. There was no sign of the 50s formalism; it was the rise of individualism. People were crazy about mixing patterns, materials, all sorts of period interior design styles for an exciting and fresh look. 

The 60s décor style was significantly impacted by pop artists such as Andy Warhol or fashion designers like Mary Quant. If you’re looking to incorporate some of that magic and home accents into the 2021 home, here’s a list with a few tips and tricks. 

  1. Embrace a wide array of materials 

The 60s décor style saw the arrival of a wide range of materials in interior design, from metal to glass, wood, cork, laminate, PVC. 

So, if you want to bring back some of that eclectic style, you shouldn’t be afraid to play with a mixture of materials and textures, from crazy fur to PVC. 

  1. Bright Colors and Bold patterns 

We have been discussing the psychology of interior design in a previous article, with an emphasis on color psychology. 

Bright colors are good for your mood and energy. They are exciting and go well with quirky patterns. If you’re afraid you’ll go over the top, you can choose a specific piece of furniture, like a statement, that should be bright and bold, and the whole room will light up without becoming too tiring on the senses.

  1. Shapes – a lot of shapes

The clean lines and quirky shapes of the 60s interior design were heavily inspired by the space race and the technology fever of that time. That gave rise to some pretty puzzling furniture and décor accessories that you cannot quite put your finger on, like “What’s that shape? “

You don’t need to go all Space Odyssey with your living room, but choose another small statement object, like a coffee table, a pillow, a lamp, and make sure it has a quirky, irregular shape. 

  1. Darkened Wood

Yep, a staple of the 60s décor style, darkened wood was everywhere, from chairs to cabinets, even floors. Consider adding a bit of that into your interior, whether it’s a piece of furniture or your flooring. 

  1. Experience with different types of wallpapers and carpets

Close your eyes and remember shag rugs and an oddly green floor. Yeah, it seems impossible to incorporate this look into your home. You don’t need to. An excellent retro interior design alternative is to use large throw rugs in bright colors and some psychedelic-looking geometric shapes. 

As for wallpapers, think about a specific graphic element that you’d want to incorporate in the interior, and go for that. 

  1. The armchairs of the 60s are still here

…and the sofas. You cannot forget those ottomans with matching lounge chairs you’ve probably seen in the movies. They also look pretty comfortable. 

Vintage retro tan leather danish chair

Besides, they’ll surely wow your visitors. 

  1. Open Shelving and Other Retro Accessories

This is one huge component of the retro interior design of the 60s. They were functional but also a great way to display different artwork and accessories. 

Open Shelving and Other Retro Accessories

This style of shelving is still prevalent in the present for displaying books, memorabilia and other modern pieces of art or accessories such as record players, phonographs and the sort. 

So, the 60s décor style is not that far away from today’s interior design styles. It was a period of great excesses and excitement, bright colors, bold statements, and experimenting with different materials. If you feel like you need a bit of excitement in your interior, the 60s décor style is the way to go. So go and be bold! 

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