How To Decorate Your Home Like The Basement In That '70s Show

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It may be called "That '70s Show," but not every item in the famous Forman basement is from the "Me Decade," as per Set Décor. The long-running sitcom's production designer and set decorator purposely added elements from the 1950s and '60s to further accentuate the idea that the Wisconsinites (or Cheeseheads, respectfully) were not a wealthy family with the money or desire to keep up with the Joneses, redecorating every time a new trend kicked in. "This is a middle-class family attempting to be stylish with the money that they have," production designer Garvin Eddy told Entertainment Weekly.

To recreate the most authentic "That '70s Basement" experience in your home — whether in a finished, downstairs lair or a family room — local thrift and antique stores are excellent places to hunt down items from as far back as the 1950s. Don't forget your cyber resources — online shopping can connect you with whatever a brick-and-mortar store doesn't offer. Here's how to decorate your basement just like the show.

You're gonna need a loveseat

The old, tattered loveseat (duct tape and pancake-flat pillows included) is perhaps the most iconic piece of furniture in the Forman family basement. It's where the gang met to catch up at the end of all 200 episodes, as per Showbiz CheatSheet. And it's not a hard thing to replicate in your '70s-inspired home, whether you're redesigning the basement or recreating your living room. All you need is a beige loveseat or a slipcover to create the illusion. Don't worry, it doesn't have to be from 1973.

Don't worry about losing your electric taste in the subtleness of a plain, boring-on-the-surface beige sofa. The fun part about owning a basic, neutral loveseat is that it goes with everything (via SFGate). And you can easily incorporate all those colorful textures and patterns you craved in pillows, wall art, and even statement pieces as small as flowers in a vase. If you love the '70s, or simply "That '70s Show," you've got a ton of stylistic freedom in what you can use to accent a beige couch. Just stay away from the duct tape.

Drive around town or search online for a wooden spool

What's a dumpster-chic loveseat without the gang's worn wood-spool coffee table, complete with an ashtray and cigarette butts? The famous basement was a hangout for rambunctious teenagers with risqué vices, as per TheTalko, so it makes sense to cast a secondhand spool rather than an antique glass coffee table that sitcom mom Kitty Forman would guard with her life.­­ And once you've got the spool, the rest is fairly simple, according to Twelve On Main.

The fastest, easiest way to obtain a wood spool is to ask family and friends on social media or do a quick search for "cable spool" or "wire spool" on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace (via ReNue Home Studio). You could score one for free or pay as little as $10. If those avenues are a bust, reach out to a few utility companies to ask if they'll sell you one (or better yet, give it away for free).

Are you ready to commit to mismatched chairs?

The whole point of the basement in "That '70s Show" was to create a chill space where the six-person gang could unwind and unload after long days hanging out at The Hub and, apparently, never attending school (via Collider). So, the more seating, the better — even if it doesn't match. Today, mixing and matching chair colors and styles is an intentional trend, especially in your dining area. "Your dining room looks best when your tables and chairs look coordinated by not bought as a set," according to expert Maria Killam, decorator and stylist.

Ever heard of the pretty chair test? If a chair can sit alone in a room and look amazing on its own, then it's a pretty piece of furniture, and you can confidently add it to your '70s mash-up living space. If you're afraid to add mismatched chairs to your living room (versus the dining area), design experts give you their blessing to mix shapes, colors, textures, and styles, as long as the pieces aren't too far off in size from each other, as explained by SFGate.

Invest in an old turntable and some Cheap Trick records

What's the 1970s without rock n' roll? If you pay close attention, you'll notice an old-school, all-in-one eight-track turntable and cassette player, and LP stacks behind the loveseat in the Forman basement. The TV series was huge on music, with the tight-knit group singing, humming, or kicking back to some of the era's most popular music. This included "The Grand Illusion" by Styx, "I Want You to Want Me" by Cheap Trick, and "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, according to Tunefind.

One of the easiest ways to get your hands on old records is to head to your local thrift or antique store, or tap open your Etsy app and search "vinyl records" for tons of affordable options, including bulk and random selections. If you're a crafty DIY-er, and have no interest purchasing actual LPs, you can invest in a pack of fake, blank records online and create your own labels or simply stack them in a shelf to achieve the aesthetic.

Start collecting all kinds of lighting fixtures

"That '70s Show" did an excellent job turning the basement hangout into the land where lamps go to die — only for you to resurrect them decades later in your 21st century home. A great way to accomplish the unique lighting combinations seen in the early-2000s sitcom is to hit up thrift shops and flea markets, according to Set Décor. There you can find shades that scream "grandma's house" (like this ornate ruffle shade) or "groovy, baby" (like this hanging orange globe light) and combine them in one space.

To avoid the intentional tackiness of the show's teenage hangout headquarters, it's important to know some basic rules for mixing lighting fixtures. According to specialists like The Lighting Gallery, achieving the ideal lighting starts with layering different types of lamps to encourage the right mood and dimension in a given space. There is ambient, task, and accent lighting, and you need at least two of them to make a room feel inviting.

Thrift an old-fashioned cord phone just for looks

Another Forman basement staple is the trusty, off-white rotary phone, which over-the-top Michael Kelso used to call the White House in one episode. The period-friendly, curly-corded gem sits atop a wooden table next to the eyesore loveseat throughout the entire series. It's super easy to pull off in your sitcom-inspired space, and displaying a retro rotary phone in your home will tug on the heartstrings of any houseguest over age 30.

Rotary phones still come in tons of shapes and colors, and they still work if you're dying to make a call on one (via Concord Monitor). Not much changed aesthetically in phones between the 1950s and '70s, and the Formans weren't interested in fixing what wasn't broken, so it should be easy to find a phone inspired by one of these eras. If you enjoy mixing old and new, you can purchase a fully functional, modern take on a rotary phone.

Rummage for a rectangular orange or red rug

The reddish-brownish-orangish rug in the center of the gang's downstairs hideout isn't exactly the star of the show (or the basement), but you'd probably notice if it were missing. If you're not looking for an exact replica of the show's surely soiled, striped floor mat (who could blame you?), look for one that matches your aesthetic, color scheme, and given space.

Decorist recommends finding a rug that is proportional to your space. This is important because a perfectly sized rug creates a sense of balance and helps define whatever room it graces. Choosing one that's too small can shrink the room and make it feel smaller than it is. An excellent rule of thumb to remember — it's a proportional rug if it lines up with the two front legs of your couch or chair. Another safe bet is purchasing one between 4'x6' and 5'x8'.

Reinvent the useless, green shower curtain

We're not sure why the Formans kept it either, other than the fact that every square foot of the underground hangout was designed to accurately portray 1970s middle-class Wisconsin. In fact, the set decorator Tara Stephenson got most of the set's decor at thrift stores because those items captured that aesthetic so well. "Thrift shops and flea markets are great resources. Not only do they have vintage, but also the 'stuff' of the right class — this is supposed to be middle-class Wisconsin in the 1970s," she told Set Decor.

You can do a lot with a simple, colorful curtain, like purchasing a small tension rod to hang one from an open doorframe. You can also use a large, floor-to-ceiling curtain to split one room into two, or line a blank wall with one to create three-dimensional, flowy wallpaper (via House Beautiful). If you're dealing with a smaller space, snazzy bead curtains will also do the trick, as they refract and diffuse light and give the illusion of a larger area (via Hackrea). Plus, they're super '70s and also featured in the sitcom basement!

Keep an eye out for old magazines and games

Nearly every surface in the famous basement is a cluttered, era-worthy solute to middle-class homes in Middle America, including the iconic spool coffee table, covered in (mostly) the same magazines for eight seasons, and a two-tiered bookshelf (toward the back of the basement) that displayed a mess of toys and board games. It was a time, after all, when social media and streaming services were a thing of the far-distant future, and maybe more fit for the show's upcoming Netflix sequel, "That '90s Show."

Everyone has some sort of childhood game in their parents' basement or garage, but suppose you haven't saved any retro publications or family favorite games over the years. In that case, you can easily hunt down old magazines and board games at secondhand shops, antique stores, or online sellers on eBay. You might as well snag that corded rotary phone and those vintage LPs while you're at it!

Add some fun colors to a lackluster dresser

Another constant in the "That '70s Show" basement is a small, white-framed, clown-colored dresser only shown in quick flashes (thankfully), as it sits stage-left of the gang's usual gathering spot. The piece could've easily come from little Eric Forman's childhood room. According to Mirror80, 1970s parents weren't afraid of bold color combinations. You can improve on the not-so-glamorous dresser using paint colors that complement your unique, fun-loving style.

Whether or not you're a savvy DIYer, the process is a cinch, as explained by professional thrift diver and do-it-yourselfer Serena Appiah in her Thrift Diving blog. She recommends using chalk paint because it's thick, easy to use, and leaves a solid coat. It's great for beginners because it's hard to mess up while painting with it. You can also get extra creative and stencil a funky, interesting design onto your dresser drawers to ensure it looks absolutely nothing like the sitcom eyesore.

Elevate your beige loveseat with groovy pillows

Adding throw pillows to a couch, chair, or window bench is a simple, inexpensive way to take an uninspired room and make it pop, as per Coldwell Banker Real Estate. And you won't have to do much to improve on the flat, dingy (and seemingly pointless) decorative pillows on the '70s-inspired sitcom couch.

An important thing to remember when arranging accent pillows is placement, as it can change the entire look and feel of your furniture and space. If you're going for an authentic retro experience, throw a decorative pillow or two on both ends of your sitcom-inspired loveseat. Are you looking to add a splash of something modern to your quirky, new setup? Simply line the center of each couch cushion with one pillow. It can give you that pop of color you're looking for without overwhelming the space with multiple accessories. 

Display a little sportsmanship

You may not be from Wisconsin, but you probably know its folks have Green Bay Packers running through their veins, and the Forman family was no different. The Packers helmet is basically another cast member — you'll catch it hanging around the basement and even outside in the wild, as seen in a Season 6 episode. It's a consistent part of the set that gently reminds the audience of the gang's Middle-American roots.

If you're not a Cheesehead, it's not a dealbreaker for your "That '70s Show" inspired room. Simply display your favorite team's helmet, hat, or jersey as an homage to the sitcom's famous helmet. You can even snag a snazzy hover helmet online for a contemporary pop in your retro room. Suppose you don't have a favorite team because you couldn't care less about sports. In that case, you're totally free to represent the Packers gear with a helmet or mask inspired by your favorite superhero or villain, like this inexpensive Darth Vader mask.

Sift through thrift shops for retro TVs

Like the show's ancient, analog boob tube, you can find an old, working television at any thrift store or online market. You can either take it apart and modernize its design or leave it as is for an authentically retro experience. Recycling TVs is a fun trend circulating today, even without inspiration from the hit TV show.

Start the search for your analog TV in a secondhand store or online marketplace, like Ebay, keeping an eye out for sets as old as the 1960s. That would be a perfectly believable period piece for the Formans, who couldn't afford to invest in a spanking-new television. Today, do-it-yourselfers are taking old, unwanted televisions and turning them into super unique displays, including fish tanks, light panels, and even mini bars, as per MakeUseOf. And if you're fully committed to the vintage vibe, you can still watch TV on an old screen (via Lifewire).

Throw in a unique chest for added charm and storage

We're also confused by the old, rugged, patriotic (or circus-inspired?) chest that sat quietly and undisturbed toward the back of the teens' basement hideout; who does it belong to, and what was inside for eight seasons? Whatever the case, it doesn't actually matter — you can use your "That '70s Show" inspired trunk any way you please.

Luckily, you're not stuck with the show's ultra-homey, Mid-America vibe, if that's not your thing. Shop online or in-store for the perfect storage chest, whether it's traditional wood, accented with shiny silver or gold, or a durable, modern metal piece, perfect for long-term storage. As seen on DigsDigs, you can repurpose your new chest as a cool coffee table, beautiful bedside bench, or even a handy home bar. Or, if you're ultra-committed to turning your space into the '70s gang's hideaway, you can spring for an exact replica of the mysterious TV show prop.