Hooked on Fridays: Decorating Books from the ’50s

Those of you who have been reading my blog for very long probably know I’m a sucker for old decorating books like this Better Homes & Gardens guide from 1956. When I see them on eBay or in used bookstores, they are hard to resist. I love the retro stuff. It’s fun to peek into the past and see how people lived. This week as I was looking through the BHG book again, I noticed this yellow dining room:

What struck me is that the light fixture and table are both things that could be found at IKEA today (or similar versions, anyway). Here’s a white table with a lacquer finish:

And a pendant light from IKEA with a similar vibe:

Even the yellow in the room is very close to Pantone’s Color of the Year, Mimosa:

Apparently it’s true when they say everything comes back in style again if you wait long enough–though I don’t think there’s any hope of resurrecting that flower arrangement, no matter how many decades go by. (To see other Retro Rooms I’ve featured from old decorating books, click here.)

Now it’s your turn to tell us what you’re hooked on today! If you have something to share with us on your blog, add your link below. Just please be sure to:

  1. Add the permalink to the specific blog post, not your general blog address.
  2. Link back to the party from your post so that your readers can come and see what everyone else is talking about today!

P.S. If you’re a Stumbler, please Stumble this! If you’re on Twitter, please Tweet it! I want everyone to get as much traffic as possible today.

Hooked on Fridays Participants

1. Mary Beth {Valentine Cupcakes}
2. The Summer Kitchen Girls
3. Kim @ Forever Wherever (Coffee)
4. Michelle (Give Away)
5. Holly@Homebody (my best design decision)
6. PamperingBeki (hooked on Carbs!)
7. susan (Your home, only better.)
8. Taya@Delightful! (bookcase)
9. Troischats (pencil rolls and Fridays!)
10. Gayle (Vintage Cookbook)
11. Kimm at Reinvented (Inspiration)
12. Katie (hooked on living in Europe)
13. Arleen @ Seasons for All at Home (Decorative Plates)
14. Canyon Wren Cottage
15. Maya (Smelling the Flowers)
16. Chez Lacy (Saving Money)
17. Pretty Organizer@ PrettyOrganizedPalace
18. Jess @ Just a Blink (Lamps)
19. Amy @ Living Locurto (free downloads!)
20. Gigi @ Lemonade Home
21. Christy (the coolest thing ever)
22. Visual Vamp
23. Fifi Flowers Design Decor
24. Linda@Lime in the Coconut (Orange-ish)
25. Puna
26. Dagny @ Beautiful Living
27. Terri at Lakewood Manor
28. Liz@Violet Posy
29. Emily@remodelingthislife
30. songbirdtiff-free wreath
31. Coco @ Ordinary Miracles
32. Shannon has a giveaway!
33. Wayfaring Wanderer (hooked on hope)
34. Kristin @ Pumpkin Cottage
35. Charlie
36. Lynne, Tea for Joy (Pianos)
37. Kimba @ A Soft Place to Land
38. Ann Kroeker (pizza dough)
39. Suzy Homemaker
40. Angela @ PeonyPatch
41. Monkey\’s Momma
42. Astrid (little birds)
43. Ginny (things 5 year olds say)
44. Straw Cottage
45. velvet and linen
46. Kristen (frommytinykitchen)
47. Our Nifty Notebook (family, coloring & books)
48. Mark @ RehabOrDie.com
49. Jessica (Cheap wall art)
50. Andi – udandi (toaster oven)
51. Neutral Dwelling
52. Tamara
53. Julie
54. Pam Kersting
55. 7MSN Ranch, New Mexico
56. Jill (Before & Afters!)
57. Creations From My Heart (Thrift Stores)
58. Ramona Owen
59. Eric Da Plumber!

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

NOTE: IS YOUR LINK MISSING? That means you linked to your general blog address and not a specific post, and I couldn’t figure out which post was for Hooked on Fridays. Please remember to use your post’s permalink and to link back to the party so there’s no confusion. Everyone makes mistakes–-just try again on February 13 (no Hooked on Fridays next week–I’ll be in Nashville for the BlissDom blogging conference)!

One thing I'll never understand is why home builders continue to stick laundry rooms behind kitchens. Connected to the garage. On the first floor. This…
And the Winners Are... Thanks to everyone--all 545 of you--who entered my giveaway last week. The Bloggy Giveaway Carnivals are always a lot of fun…

See More


  1. says

    Woooohooo! We’re first! Hey Julia – we’ve finally made it! Had to laugh at this book – We’ve got this same book and get such a kick out of it!
    Thanks for doing the Hooked on Fridays – we just love coming over to see what everyone is hooked on!

    The Summer Kitchen Girls’s last blog post..Hooked on Shadow Boxes

  2. says

    Sorry Julia, my link is correct but I was a little slow and didn’t figure out that I hadn’t changed the name until I’d done it twice. Is there any way to fix it?

    Holly’s last blog post..True Love

  3. says

    I love the yellow! It looks great with mexican tile and wood!

    Collecting old decorating magazines sounds fun! Everything old is new again, right?

    I really enjoy Hooked on Fridays…thanks!


  4. says

    I agree I love looking at old photos of homes and decorating ideas. Amazing how everything always comes full circle.. Even down to colored appliances…Have a good weekend!

  5. says

    Julia, thank you for hosting this! It makes for such a fun finish to the week! It’s so funny that you are featuring an old decorating book this week and what I’m hooked on is an old cookbook of mine!

    Gayle’s last blog post..I Love My Vintage Cook Book!

  6. says

    Oh wow, Julia. I should be up at 5 in the morning more often over here! I’m so impressed with everyone posting already, and I’ll miss seeing them next week. After you first posted that color swatch a while back, I felt relieved. We painted that same color, and we were questioning it like crazy.

  7. says

    The “mid-century” look is certainly back and IKEA is definitely the place to buy retro decor! I’m glad yellow is the color of the year. It’s so cheerful!

    And, as always, thank you for hosting this weekly party!

    Arleen’s last blog post..Decorative Plates

  8. says

    Julia, some of my favorite “Hooked On” posts are ones about those retro books. What goes around comes around, huh? LOL

  9. says

    Yellow is one of my most favourite colours, and it’s so nice to see it coming back into style agin – but did it ever go out?? I currently have a yellow room painted in “Mountain Marigold” … and just found a beautiful fabric for the windows that matches perfectly, only it’s $700 a metre!!!! Who could afford THAT???
    Not me, so I will keep coming back to the Hooked On blog parties and living through my dreams!

    Troischats’s last blog post..Love Fridays … and pencil rolls

  10. says

    Isn’t it so funny how what’s old is new again? I love that yellow — it’s very close to the color we recently painted our guest room! I had hoped to post on that room today, but got sidetracked and haven’t finished it yet. Thanks for hosting this blog again – it rocks!

    christy’s last blog post..the coolest thing ever

  11. says

    Yeah! I’m really starting to love Fridays! I also am a sucker for decorating books. I read decorating magazines like they are novels. I once bought a book on seaside homes for $150. Don’t tell my husband!

  12. says

    I too am addicted to retro decorating books, but have now also discovered that antique dealers and old book stores have totally random pricing that makes me IRATE! I paid $20 for a 1960s mag with the pages torn out (grrr) but only $5 for a gorgeous 1948 Home Beautiful in mint condition.

    AlexB’s last blog post..Space-saving bathroom waterfall

  13. Kathi says

    I’m sure you’ve seen Dorothy Draper (1889-1969) designs? Check out her signature style. Many of her design ideas are still current today. Love her book, IN THE PINK. She was America’s first female interior designer!

  14. says

    Wow I can see where Ikea is getting it’s inspiration from!! I still can’t bear that Mimosa colour, I just can’t imagine where it can be used?? Thanks for hosting again, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s hooked on’s this week :)

    Liz@VioletPosy’s last blog post..There’s still time to plant…

  15. says

    I have loads of current decorating books but I will have to keep my eyes opened for some of these older ones. I know my Mom had some that I would look at even as a child! I have been looking for some fun yellow fabric…I love it, so crisp and clean!

    coco’s last blog post..tray chic…

  16. says

    This book is so great. I was just thinking about painting our powder room a golden yellow like the picture. I love how styles and colors just keep revolving and end up “in style” time after time.

    Kristin’s last blog post..Farmhouse Wares

  17. says

    Hi Julia, Yellow is back in such a big way, and not just in interiors. The second photo you posted brings back so many wonderful memories all that is missing is the metalic wallpaper! Anyone remember that?

  18. says

    i love yellow and i guess always have. I remember when we moved to a new home when I was 10 I got to pick out the colors for my room and at the time my choice was unusual – my room was decorated in yellow, orange and green. I had a cool daisy pillow my mom made. 40 yrs later my room is painted yellow.

    autumnsun’s last blog post..#3 – Follow My Fascination

  19. says

    I love yellow. Except I have spent a lot of time trying to find the right shade of yellow today in a fabric shop – apparently it is not popular in the UK…

  20. Mike says

    I love the chairs in that photo as well. I’d pick a much softer yellow….that one is a little garish, but the chair style is timeless.

  21. says

    Hi Julia.

    I have enjoyed reading everyone’s posts, that I decided to join in the fun.
    I messed up on my first try (#10), but I think I got everything correct on the second try (#46).
    Sorry, next week should go much more smoothly!

    Have a wonderful weekend.


    brooke’s last blog post..zinio

  22. says

    I didn’t get anything ready for this week. I enjoyed yours. I see these 50’s style books at the book fair every year. Always tempted to pick them up. Perhaps I will, this June. I love it when Architectural Digest does retro issues. Many times, the styles from 50 years ago, will work in today’s homes. Even traditional style homes.

    Pat’s last blog post..~Island Dreaming~

  23. says

    What goes around comes around…love that! If I hang onto anything long enough it will become stylish again right? It’s a great look and very in keeping with today!
    I too love to look through the old books and magazines. One I love to see is the Architectural Dogest Hollywood edition each year. You know…they show today’s stars in their homes but the part I adore is looking at the stars of yester year in THEIR abodes.
    I love the look of homes from the 30s/40s.

    Another knock out post Julia!!


    Sue’s last blog post..No Child Labor Laws Were Broken! I Swear!

  24. says

    I’m still in love with some of the sexy mid-century modern stuff. 70’s? not so much.

    BTW, DW just discovered how to make and put video into the blog. I linked in our squeaky tub problem and fix entry for those who are interested.


    RehabOrDie’s last blog post..Squeaky tub solution: part two.

  25. says

    That yellow dining room is to die for! So crazy, fun, retro! Looking past the almost shocking yellow in high dosages (why not just a splash here or there… we – us homemakers – are so much more refined these days, eh?) I do like the idea of adding floor to ceiling drapery over a blank wall. It is especially great for the dining area to limit echoing and warm the space up texturally. I may “recycle” that look!

  26. says

    HI Julia, Better Homes has always got it goin’ on! I have some of their vintage sewing and quilt books. Love their stuff and it’s fun to have it out…because I enjoy looking at them…love those pictures you showed!

  27. says

    Hi Julia:
    No wonder I loved the designs in your vintage B H & G’s design book as I am a 56′ vintage version as well! I immediately was drawn to the yellow dining room. It is always fun to see great design never truly fades away. I purchased last year an Ikea parsons style white lacquerish kitchen table for a steal & hung their glossy black drum style light fixture.I loved the lamp you posted as well. Yellow like that just makes a person smile even in the worst of moods. Thanks for showing us those terrific images. What fun!

  28. says

    How much fun is this! I know i’m a little late in the game here but this has definitely brightened up my Monday. Makes me wonder if my mom still has some early Vogue and Seventeen. Am new to blogging and am constantly amazed at all the inspiring gals out there. Hope I can be of some inspiration too.

    Lisa’s last blog post..