Remember “avocado green” and “harvest gold”? If you were born before the Reagan administration, chances are your early years provided an overdose. Throughout the 1970s, these ubiquitous hues covered everything from station wagons to shag carpets—which is why by the time the minimalist new millennium rolled around, they’d become design shorthand for suburban, cringy and dated.

So it was with some surprise—and a little bit of horror—that in the last few years, décor-watchers of a certain age started noticing the notorious palette making inroads in interiors again. And if the Instagram scrolls of tastemaker designers like Kelly Wearstler and Muriel Brandolini are any hint, it’s time we primed for shades of olive, amber and saffron.

Aghast? It’s understandable. For decades, stereotypical ’70s tropes—from Naugahyde loungers to plush conversation pits—have been the butt of jokes, not objects of desire. But before you say “no thanks” to another helping of pea-tinted interiors, rest assured that contemporary designers render this throwback palette in ways that feel measured and mature, not outmoded. Think less “That ’70s Show” and more Joni Mitchell in Laurel Canyon.

The tranquilizing properties of these colors may also be just what the doctor ordered. In contrast to brazen “Barbiecore” pink and chilly millennial greige, “earth tones provoke feelings of comfort and calm, something very necessary amid the madness of the outside world,” said Lauren Wager, a color designer in Columbus, Ohio, and author of the Palette Perfect book series. Indeed, according to Montaha Hidefi, a color archaeologist from Ontario, Canada, and vice president of color forecasting at Color Marketing Group, the last time these hues ruled American homes, on the heels of the Vietnam War, political assassinations and the civil-rights movement, their rise was an emotional response to a turbulent decade. Another factor: the inaugural Earth Day on April 22, 1970, which kicked environmental awareness into high gear—and a thirst for earthier interiors along with it.

Others chalk up the rebound to old-fashioned nostalgia. “I think it’s a combo of fetishizing our grandparents’ era and realizing that after 20 years of gray, we’re living in a cold, detached, technological world,” said Los Angeles textile and interior designer Peter Dunham. While he hasn’t fielded requests for a chocolate brown stove just yet, Dunham says in the last two to three years he has seen a big bump in customer response to furnishings featuring these shades.

But whether you find this palette dated or timeless may ultimately be just a matter of mind-set. After all, said New York City designer Ghislaine Viñas, despite its cultural baggage, we’re exposed to it every leaf-peeping season. “Really, these are simply autumnal hues that work beautifully together,” she said.

Don’t let names hang you up, either. Bristle at the thought of “avocado green”? Then try Guacamole, which was Glidden’s 2022 Color of Year, or Basque Green, a dead-ringer from Sherwin Williams.

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