How to Decorate a 1970s Bungalow Living Room

Updated November 21, 2016

Bungalow homes from the 1970s are rich in charm and architectural interest. Living rooms often feature split-level floor plans, wood elements such as window frames and panelling, stone features, especially in fireplace surrounds, and low, cosy ceilings. Decorating these rooms poses certain design challenges to keep in mind to avoid making the room look too dated. If you are decorating a 1970s bungalow, it is possible to decorate the room on theme with its original look while still bringing it into the modern age.

Create height and presence in the room. In the 1970s, it was very common for homes to have ceilings no higher than 10 feet. This can create a cosy, denlike atmosphere, but it can also make the room seem cramped and cluttered. Create height by choosing furniture that is proportionate to the room and by installing wall treatments such as border paper or wainscoting.

Lighten up the wall treatments. In the 1970s, it was very common to feature artificial wood panelling in the living room. While this makes the room seem warm and nature-inspired, it can also make the room look rather heavy. Consider adding a fresh coat of light paint over the surface of the panelling or removing it altogether. If you still want to feature some wood accents, consider only using panelling on a feature wall.

Accent the room with sunny, warm colours. Also in the 1970s it was not unusual to combine bright shades with dark neutrals. For example, a saturated yellow and deep brown can create a dynamic contrast in a living room space. To bring this look into the modern age, try a more muted yellow with a warm taupe.

Create a focal point in the room. Like with any living room, your space planning should choose a point of interest and centre the room on this point. In many living rooms, this can be a fireplace, a picture window or an entertainment centre. Balance the space by positioning furniture to frame this area. Having competing focal points will lack cohesion and make the room seem imbalanced.

Furnish the space with authentic or reproduction pieces. If you want to hearken back to this era in architecture, furnish the space with inexpensive pieces from the age. Scour estate sales, flea markets, thrift stores and classifieds to find furniture pieces that will help create the retro bungalow atmosphere. With a coat of paint and sandpaper, you can easily spruce up old pieces to look new again.

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About the Author

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.