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Magical Mystery Décor: Trippy Home Interiors of the 60s and 70s

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The late 1960s and 70s were all about experimentation and breaking with tradition – and the realm of interior decoration was no exception.  The previous decades had been fairly conservative, but by 1965 loud colors and unconventional furniture started to make an appearance.  Here’s a look at some particularly creative and mind-blowing creations from this time period.



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Back before waterbeds were considered tacky.  I actually had one, and to this day it is the best bed I’ve ever owned.  The 1970s variety didn’t have the internal matrix of padding to stabilize – it was just a big bag of water.  Swingin’ studs of the 1970s didn’t seem to mind.


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I presume this TV was functional and didn’t just display psychedelic patterns to trip with.  Then again, that would have been a worthy function in the 1960s.


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Call me old-fashioned, but I’d find it extremely difficult to use the bathroom amid an explosion of psychedelic cartoons.


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It apparently wasn’t enough to take a psychedelic trip on recreational occasions; true hipsters had to have mind-bending surroundings 24-7.  This bedroom is the opposite of “cozy”.


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A bit more conservative – I wouldn’t mind living here.  Yes, it’s like the Easter Bunny exploded in your living room, but at least sofa isn’t made of transparent plastic and there are no Peter Max cartoons lurking around.


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Again, you can call me old-fashioned, but I’d find it a tad difficult to have a conversation in this living room.  I can’t imagine it would be fun for fellow acid-trippers either – that car is definitely going to emerge from that wall at some point.


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Now we’re talkin’.  Somehow, when you add a groovy party to these psychedelic interiors, they don’t seem so bad.  When you get a look at these rooms in use, the stark surrealism becomes understandable – these weren’t meant for quiet alone-time with your TV or PS4 .  These were meant for getting down.


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Probably not the best place to do homework or curl up with a book.  But then, I don’t think that’s the intention.


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This is St. Paul’s School in St. Paul, Minnesota.   I include it demonstrate just how far-reaching these trippy bold designs were.    I’ll wager the teacher’s meetings held here after school hours smelled distinctly of the herb.

Here’s another school…

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Mount Healthy School, Columbus, Indiana

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I actually dig this room.  It doesn’t cross the line into over-the-top; and I think it might even work in a home of 2015.  Unlike the next entry…


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The caption for this design reads:

“The circle provides a basic motif for this room… in the form of wall disks, bull’s eyes, and spherical cushions.  Here we have a room designed for both art and comfort.  Foam cushions in brown covers are arranged into a sort of daybed, below a ledge for books.  The television set is recessed into the wall, and spherical motifs echo the shape of the circular fireplace.  White walls and the netural brown of the tile floor emphasize primary colors scattered throughout the room.  Everything works together here because a variety in color is balanced by a classic repetition in shapes.”


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A bedroom worthy of Ron Burgundy.  Stay classy.


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You may recall the Kotter’s living room/kitchen area (on Welcome Back, Kotter) had a similar stripe pattern (with lettering, if I remember right).  That apparently was a “thing” back then.


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It’s easy to mock these designs, but you’ve got to give them credit for pushing the envelope.  It’s easy to be conservative – there’s nothing to really point the finger at and make fun.  When you push the limits, you open yourself up for ridicule, especially decades later when tastes have changed.  So, as gaudy and insane as these may first appear, I have to give them respect for not being boring.


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Monroe C. Gutman Library, Harvard University.   A really nice blend of the “new” with the conservative.    A notice to you youngsters: that structure in the background is something called a “card catalog”.


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From the book:  “The rooms here are a perfect example of industrial thinking at home. Inventiveness plus resourceful use of materials has transformed ordinary spaces into far-out visual trips.”


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Those poor kids.


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See also: Seeing Red In The 1970s: A Decade’s Fixation With The Colour Of Death, Fear And Regret

And we’ll end on my favorite.  Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

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A big thanks to Retro Hound for offering these fantastic scans.

  • Archie Dux

    It’s just so hard to find clear chairs these days.

    • Tell me about it. I’m just waiting for the opaque seating fad to pass.

  • Bike Riding Hippie Man

    Ron Burgundy Room. indeed…

    • “I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”

  • J Smith

    I feel like the author missed an opportunity by not discussing the picture on the wall in the third one down.

    • Ha! Funny you should say that. I actually removed my comment because I anticipated somebody saying something like – it’s just like a Georgia O’Keeffe; nothing special. (Well, O’Keeffe-ish or not, it’s still looks like a giant purple vagina, and thereby demands a comment. Agreed.)

      • 1ridder1

        Nothing says home like having a Vag hanging on your wall.

    • I like the STP sign in the Victorian frame in that one. It’s so bizarrely out of place. Thanks Yoeman, glad you liked the pictures and got some use out them.

    • Lacey W

      I missed that entirely, looking at the see through TV set.
      You can’t even do that today with the flat screens.

  • Stannous Flouride

    I recognized the 7-UP ad used as wallpaper in the bathroom. It was a billboard that used to be across the street from the diner I worked at as a short order cook back then.

    Here’s the original art:

    • Holy crap. It’s times like this that I love the internet.

    • Lacey W

      Peter Max in your bathroom? Wow

  • SkeptiGal

    My mother, in a fit of telephone ordering from Sears, bought matching bedspreads and curtains in the color scheme of pic four- King Crimson meets Moody Blues, turned up to 11. Luckily for me it was for my brothers’ rooms cuz I could not look at that shit without getting eyestrain. Dad STILL had the spreads until he moved this past year. They were only used when company came to spend the night. Poor things.

  • Paul Duca

    Columbus, Indiana has long been an architectural trendsetter, allowing the biggest names in design a free hand on the city’s public structures, along with owners doing the same with commercial buildings–even churches.