Book Review: 70s House by Estelle Bilson (Kyle Books, 2023)

1970s Barbara Hulanicki biba Book Blog Book Cover Art Book Review retro seventies vintage

"Part interiors guide, part manual for living, this loud-and-proud book will bring not only 70s colour and kitsch to the modern day, but also the rebellious spirit, pure joy and freewheeling energy epitomised by the era".

70s House by Estelle Bilson front cover

At a time where books about interior design and home décor are weighing down every coffee table in the land, to a point where the market for such books feels oversaturated, and (dare I say it?) sometimes a bit dull and repetitive, it can feel like a tough task to find one that stands out or does things differently. Enter Estelle Bilson and her ‘bold homage to the most daring decade in design’. 70s House takes us on a whistlestop tour of the 1970s, taking in social history, music, TV, travel and fashion. It starts out with a bang, with a foreword by Barbara Hulanicki (yes, 'that' Barbara Hulanicki, creator of Biba). 
This social background seamlessly takes us into the realms of house décor and design. For this reader it brought back some terrific memories of shagpile rugs, teak furniture and mass market art: looking at this list, all of these appear to be ‘back in’ right now of course as is the cyclical nature of design taste. The author’s put her money where her mouth is and lives the 70s interior dream, having transformed her own house into a wonderland, complete with her very own disco bathroom.
It's a big and busy read, with every page crammed with both info and eye-popping visuals. The small-ish format adds to a sense of an absolute ton of knowledge being crammed into these pages. It’s an ideal fit with the maximalist subject matter.
What I love most about this book is Estelle’s clear genuine love for her subject. For all too long, any mention of the 70s was met mostly with humour and wry reminiscences about flared jeans, ‘very’ hirsute people, macrame and little girls in long, patterned party dresses. Like an era that stood out in a crowd, the 70s hasn’t exactly been taken seriously at points. Looking back it now, so much of it just looks like really good fun. What’s not to love about a fondue party, lava lamps, flamenco dolls, hedgehog cakes and prawn cocktails?
When I read this book, it just makes me feel happy. And there’s a lot to be said for that.
Review by Suzy Prince

70s House is available from all of the usual bookbuying channels. You can support Bopcap Books directly by purchasing this book for £19.00 via our partnership with (spend £25 to qualify for free shipping). Click here to purchase.

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