I was just perusing my latest vintage book purchase, The Ladies’ Home Journal Book of Interior Decoration.I love looking through vintage design magazines and books. While some of it is very dated and pretty hideous, the ideas, explanations, glossaries and photos offer up a lot of information. For example, in the picture above, it’s funny to see that stuffed animal on the floor, the dated woodstove, the ugly side tables, etc. However, I do love the way those corner platform sofas can work in a small space, and I rather love that they put bright pink in a knotty pine and brick rustic look cabin!
The room above is kind of regency, has a bit of chinoiserie, but is still modern. I love the ambition of the long sofa built on a platform attached to the two end tables. It has sort of a Parzinger look to it. The jewel tones next to the white are rich, and the lamps look pretty interesting. I wish I could tell if that mural was pioneers in wagons, Swiss chalets in the alps, or Asia. I’m just telling myself it’s an Asian scene, which somehow makes the room work for me.
This plaid couch basement rec room incorporates a few elements I really like – using basic squares, circles and rectangles with primary colors. It’s funny how busy all the photo styling is in these photos – the book on the ottoman, the random plants and huge ashtrays. Sometimes the most glaring difference between vintage mags and books and current ones is simply the styling.
These books are wonderful resources. There are charts of style of decoration telling you which locations, furnishings, textiles, wall coverings, colors, flooring, light fixtures and accessories are appropriate for each style. There is a glossary in the back (I had never known what “Dado” was until I read this book), and there are charming illustrations, like in the yardage guide for upholstery, as seen above.
It’s also fun to think of these as a glimpse into history. In America, we were bridging a time in decor when we were between traditional colonial style and Modern style. At this point, most furnishings were mass produced. More Americans owned their own homes than ever before, and they were filled with an ever-growing array of modern conveniences, like washing machines, dishwashers, and the latest vacuum cleaners (sold door-to-door). A lot of the photos show how the contemporary pieces were starting to be incorporated, as well as the latest in flooring technology, whether it be a new type of wall-to-wall carpeting or linoleum. Televisions added a new household portal for advertising, and much of that was directed towards housewives and revolved around selling a certain American dream lifestyle. This book was published around the time the television show Mad Men takes place (if you haven’t caught this show on AMC yet, you are truly missing out; the costumes and sets alone make it worth the hour). I think about the American lifestyle then; the baby boom babies leaving the nest, more and more women entering the workforce and no longer dedicating themselves to homemaking 24/7, and the tumultuous times that were just a few years away.
all photos from The Ladies Home Journal Book of Interior Decoration. Photographers were not listed.
Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!