Back in February I posted photos of 1950s kitchens from an old Better Homes & Gardens Decorating book I had just bought.
Today I thought it would be fun to look at some 1950s living rooms. Some look more contemporary (as in something you might see in a magazine today) than you’d expect. Others look seriously dated. Either way, it’s fun to see what passed for fab fashion 50 years ago.
“Sparkling color defines a gay, informal spirit.” There was a lot of “gay” decorating going on in 1956, and a lot of colored carpeting to go with it. What I find interesting in the room below is that the walls look fresh and contemporary, but the carpet and sofa are. . .not.
“Do You Like Yesterday Combined with Tomorrow?” Check out the room below with the mod artwork hung next to a gold eagle. Would any professional decorator hang those two things together–and space them like that–on a wall behind a sofa today? Note the red chair in the corner, though, which still looks current.
“Are you a busy clubwoman–with an active family? Then you’ll want to decorate your home for a minimum of housework,” according to the page below. I just might start describing myself this way in conversation. “Ah, yes, I’m a busy clubwoman with an active family. . .” Apparently it’s okay for busy clubwomen to decorate their family rooms with big orange fish cut-outs above the windows. Who knew?
“Matching Prints Solve Decorating Problems” according to the following page. “A gay hobby pattern sets the theme for a family room. If you have a too-small room and still want lots of color and pattern . . . or if your room has many architectural faults you want to hide . . or if you just can’t decide on curtains or draperies, consider using a patterned wall covering and fabric to match.”
I think it’s safe to say you’d be hard-pressed to find any “architectural faults” in the room below, which are cleverly hidden in a pattern of pirate ships, feathers, and compasses:
Hairy Weisenheimmer says
Well, thats just gay.
That gold eagle on the wall is a hoot! Or a screech. Whatever eagles say. :o)
Oh my gosh… that’s funny. I really hope people don’t laugh at my living room 50 years from now.
Yeah, I’m a busy clubwoman! 😉
I love this stuff. I would love to go back in time and step into any one of those rooms. Maybe have a glass of lemonade.
I loved reading the captions underneath – especially the goldfish cracker border room – “Are you a busy clubwoman with an active family?” And I love how the paneling and the textured rugs are known to “belittle dirt”. Great post! 🙂
Well, Darling, this post is leaving me with a bubbling gay feeling.
I absolutely love the busy clubwoman with an active family,
and I don’t get the fish either, the room actually is pretty
fun minus the fish.
This is why “mid-century Modern” is NOT my favorite style. I lived through this stuff and it wasn’t fun, or comfortable stuff. My daughter thinks it’s cool, but I know better.
It is so much fun to look at these pictures. The styles of the sofas and chairs are still around today but they are paired with different drapes and rugs. I cannot get over that semi circle floral sofa. That’s a lot of look for one piece of furniture.
These are wonderful pictures…I blog about similar things and a lot of other retro household stuff (incuding ads) over at
LOVE those rooms! I am coveting busy clubwoman’s rug. I am motivated now to do what I’ve been meaning to do since we moved into our 1956 house…track down the original owners and beg for some interior photos…if they exist!
When I was studying painting in college, I used to spend hours pouring over the vintage interior design magazines in the art & architecture library. Thank you for a fun post!
Neat blog, Nice to meet you
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. You asked what color was my bathroom before. I guess I should answer that with … What color has it NOT been, hehe…. I love change and thats a small room with fast results. Before this sassy green it was a gray . Many smile’s your way, Susie H.
courtney @ nesting instincts says
Julia – the best part of all these pics is your commentary! You crack me up. Keem ’em comin’!
courtney @ nesting instincts says
oy…I believe I meant to type, “KEEP ’em comin’!” yikes…it’s early here still….
There’s a lot of gay decorating going on in our house, too. Oh wait, that’s not what the book meant…..woops!
And this is why Valium® was the drug of choice then.
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