Remember my Better Homes and Gardens 1961 Decorating Book score? I've spent the last few weeks reading it, and let me tell you, there is a lot to talk about!
The whole book reminds me of my Grandma Hazel, who I was very close to when I was growing up. The main style of her house was definitely from this era, and it was super comfortable. I think she is the reason I had such a strong reaction reading this book - it feels like home to me!
Most of it is just really great on a pure vintage style (and yes, kitsch!) level. I hope I can give you all a good overall idea about what the trends were, but of course the best thing you can do is find a copy of this book! It's awesome, you won't regret it - I promise!
Of course one of the main styles is Contemporary, which has that much loved sleek mid-century modern vibe. It rarely feels sterile though, there are almost always homier elements mixed in - like this room, sporting a wall of wood paneling and lots of wood furniture and plants.
Natural elements dominate a lot of the book, actually. Wood furniture and paneling, stone and brick wall treatments, green plants (with or without flowers), fruit as a decorative accessory... you get the idea.
Here is another Contemporary room - look at that primary color scheme! No fear of color in this book, that's for sure. And again with the plant on the table - the coffee table!
This is a great example of a stone wall fireplace, and I love the blue and brown color scheme which seems to have been a popular one. I also love that round coffee table with the high edges - but again the plant right in the middle of it! Where are we supposed to put our snacks?!?
Here's a room with an Asian influence, which seems like it was a popular match for the contemporary style. Also notice that gray is the dominant color - gray was all over the book, used as a neutral and paired with a wide variety of colors. I was kind of surprised by it, but the more I see it the more I love it!
Another popular style covered in the book pulls elements from Classical sources like Rome and Greece. I saw this expressed more often in accessories and artwork than overall rooms, except for this amazing bedroom. Look at those stools at the end of the bed!
The ceiling paper is interesting too, ceilings were considered a part of the room design and were fair game for all kinds of colors and treatments.
Here is a great example of a large classical art piece in what they call a Traditional room. Traditional style is full of detailed furniture, antiques, and floral patterns. It creates a comfortable, make yourself at home vibe. This is the style my grandma had, it makes me want to curl up under an afghan and read Little Golden Books!
Here is a Traditional bedroom that shows a total lack of fear in both color and pattern. Green and orange together? Sure! Florals and plaid? Why not! It also stretches a bit on the accessories - porch lights as wall sconces, cast iron trivets above the bed, and a chicken on the dresser?
Wallpaper was a must have, and plaid was a popular pattern. I like how they kept the plaid below the chair rail in the bedroom above, unlike this gem of a room:
Yowza, that's a whole lotta plaid. With a gigantic turkey over the bed to boot... Americana type accessories were popular for Traditional style rooms, especially animals - horses, eagles, chickens like we saw above, and apparently Turkeys, too!
A close cousin of the Traditional style is Colonial, and this is a great example. I don't think early Americans would have had a turquoise wall above a fancy tiled fireplace, but the silhouettes and samplers on the wall lend that Colonial vibe, especially with the wood paneling and traditional furniture.
Here is a Colonial room, but with that early 60's twist. It's got the traditional wood table, shutters on the windows, and silhouettes on the wall - but then there is that huge green and white snowflake wallpaper and a big red chair (with the horse accessory on the side table, of course).
It's this kind of thing that just made me fall in love with this book - color combinations and patterns that we would never think of using now, creative layouts that mix different styles and eras, kitschy accessories... And I've only scratched the surface, I have a few more posts to do before I am done with this gem of a book!