The ‘70s are alive and well in Big Canoe

By Jan Murphy

We cannot escape the ‘70s in Big Canoe. And we may not want to. The era is still all around us. It’s easy to go back in time by visiting the Treetoppers or driving by the modern architectural homes built in the 1970s scattered throughout Big Canoe. 

On the inside of The Chimneys, time stood still and not much has changed since it was built in 1974. For those too young to remember the ‘70s, it was an expressive decade. Rock music was huge, bright, vivid wallpaper was popular with lots of oranges, olive greens, yellows, shag carpet and bringing nature inside was the thing.  

It is easy to dismiss the 1970s as “the decade that taste forgot.” But to do so would be to overlook the decade’s contributions in architecture, furniture design and interior decorating. A more thorough examination of this period is particularly worthwhile today, a time that (like the 1970s) is burdened by a time of renewed environmentalism and disenchantment with material excess. And like our early ‘70s counterparts, we too are emerging from a period dominated by sleek, minimalist modernism in interior design. 

Who would have ever imagined cathedral ceilings with wood beams and lots of wood on the walls and floors would be still popular in the twenty-first century! Perhaps the interior designers and the architects in the ‘70s were born before their time or knew some things would never lose their charm.

So, what are some of the more interesting, even inspiring, features of 1970s design found in Big Canoe?

Back to Nature

The style of the ‘70s was greatly influenced by the back-to-nature movement, which arose from both a hippie rejection of consumerism and materialism and a renewed environmentalism following the 1973 oil crisis. Architect S. Claire Conroy points out many ‘70s architects were early adopters of new energy-efficient technologies and designed houses “as organisms that mesh with their surroundings—living, breathing, and changing together.” Big windows and skylights were popular, as were indoor gardens and elevated or stacked stone fireplaces. While high-tech plastics were obviously big in the ‘70s, so too was teak and pine furniture.

Open-Plan Living

While many rooms in the 70s resembled wall-to-wall carpeted, wood-paneled dungeons, residential architecture of the time was very innovative when it came to light and space. In many ways, the ‘70s introduced the concept of “open plan living,” according to some architectural historians.

Many homes had massive windows, spiral or floating staircases, interior second-floor balconies, and vaulted ceilings. Again, sound familiar?

Color, lots of it

Love it or hate it, the 1970s were a colorful time in interior design. For every drab earth-toned room there was an equally colorful one.

Most of the homes in Big Canoe no longer have shag carpet but it’s common to find the back to nature style, skylights and the open wood beams with high ceilings found in most of the homes built today. Who would have guessed the seventies would influence mountain living as we know it today?

Stroll around Big Canoe and what you will find are fascinating homes built in the seventies that reflect the styles of the time with many having the modernistic exterior that will take you back in time. 

Thank you, seventies! That era may be gone forever but it will never be forgotten!

Author’s Note: Do you have a ‘70s home? Send me a picture! Would like to capture the ‘70s throughout Big Canoe for the 50th Anniversary celebration in 2022.

If you would like to see more images of this period in Big Canoe, join us on the Facebook group, Big Canoe Historical Society. If you have Big Canoe nostalgia to share, contact Jan Murphy at (678) 761-9414 or email her at

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