Cheap, Cheerful, and Useless

Pregnant and Groovy
Pretty Plants for Decorating

cheap and cheerful homemaking cover

Cheap & Cheerful
Homemaking on a Budget

I think this is probably one of the worst decorating/DIY books ever. None of the illustrations are any help. Note the kitchen layout picture. No context. No room dimensions or anything that might help the reader actually do the project. This book was a waste of money in 1973, let alone 2017.

Also, I don’t think any of this stuff is particularly cheerful, but then I am kind of grouchy today.


decorating fabric for living room


kitchen design

outdoor decorating

closet design


  1. Dear authors: I hate to break it to you, but putting an electric range immediately adjacent to the single kitchen sink may be “simple” [-minded] but nobody would call it “efficient”.

  2. I wonder if this was intended to be a Home Ec textbook rather than a useful book that someone would actually buy for themselves.

  3. I’m wondering if some of the content of the book seems strange to current-day North Americans because it was written for a British audience over forty years ago. For example, the notion of hiring a carpenter to make custom cabinets because this would be cheaper than a kit seems odd; however, I don’t know if the equivalent of IKEA was available in the UK in those days (and maybe carpenters were inexpensive to hire). Around this time period, my Mom used to get women’s magazines sent to her from relatives in England; these often had articles on home decorating. I remember thinking how different the kitchens appeared from the ones I was used to in Canada. Stoves were tiny and always gas-fired; I seem to recall strange (to my eyes) warming trays above the main burners. (Unless you were wealthy; those people always seemed to have a funny-looking AGA cooker.) Refrigerators were about half the size of North American ones and more akin to bar fridges. Instead of separate washing machines and dryers, people used a roll-away compact washer/spin driver.

    Of course, this does not mean that this particular book is any good, regardless of context. 🙂

  4. “Cheap and cheerful” is a common British phrase. The meaning varies along the spectrum of “cheap but functional/enjoyable” down to “cheap but not all that horrible considering the price”.

    There’s no point adding excessive detail, such as measurements, to the kitchen layout because everybody’s kitchen is going to be a different size and shape. It’s not a project as such, just some ideas to consider. All they’re doing is recommending the basics: sink under a window so you can look out while standing there, cooker (stove) and countertops close by. The book is clearly written for young people just starting out in their first home, with emphasis on fundamental information.

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