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Tortured Decor

decorating book coverBetter Homes and Gardens
Decorating Book
Meridith Corporation
1975

I got a headache looking at some of these decorating ideas. There are quite a few looks going on that will probably have you wondering if the designer was on some kind of medication. The overall theme here seems to be more color and more patterns. Just more of everything. Brace yourself before you look at some of these examples.

Evidently the authors really dig red. Case in point: the bordello-like living room and the ridiculous bedroom. My personal favorite seems to be the ultra “modern” living room that looks like a rejected set from Star Trek.

Yikes!

Mary

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22 Responses to Tortured Decor

  • I quite like many of the designs, I think it is a bit sad that in society it is thought OK to reject out of fashion design – I remember in the 1970s people banging on and on about how terrible Victorian design was, only for it to become cool again in the next decade.
    The writing style in the book is a bit clunky, though.

  • I must say, it is not every day you see the phrase “lounging around in comfort” attached to a picture dominated by … hard red plastic.

    “One pattern is everywhere.” Uh. Yeah. I noticed.

  • Even Elle Woods can’t deal with all the hot pink that goes on in the last one!

  • Ngl, I unironically love all of these, especially the “modern”/hyper trendy designs. They’re just so… of that era. Trevor Christopher Butcher is right; these designs will be creeping back in some form or another in the future and people won’t get enough of them.

  • It was a look and if well done (these images are questionable) it could be quite chic. The Bohemian room with the patchwork is pretty inviting, IMO. Gloria Vanderbilt was quite good at it. It was a layering thing, and often involved using objects and furniture from varied time periods and cultures. I actually loathe hat passes as style perpetrated by HGTV and Target. It’s dull and characterless.

  • in re the bedroom in the last pic, the telephone on the desk is a key set, with those buttons for outside lines. Maybe it was a Bell System bordello?

  • My favorite one in this book is the room where everything is plaid.

  • I like wicker, but that wicker room makes me think of bad movies about the British Raj.

    And I always found the pseudo-hippie thing kind of sad, y’know? When you treat it as a consumable “look,” you miss the point a bit.

    I do not understand the idea of turning a bedroom into a stage for the Grand Drama of Life. It seems to me to be one sure way to force drama out of life. Can you imagine rolling over in that bed and poking your SO to stop the snoring?

  • Barbara Cartland herself might not be able to deal with that last one.

  • If you threw a slipcover on sofa in the picture with the iron candlestick in the foreground to hide the print it would look just like the designs I’m currently seeing. The photo above it, with the window seat, would also only need a bit of work. I think the past is closer to returning than we think. (the picture below where the sofa and curtains match the wallpaper needs to stay far away in the past though)

    • That window seat does look comfortable! The problem is having the curtains match the shades match the wallpaper. The cushions and the red chair are better, but can you imagine that red ceiling on a hot day? The whole room would be like being inside a tomato.

  • This feminine bedroom has all the charm of a serial killer’s lair.

  • For me those gaudy colors are a bit much, but hey, if you (emphasis on YOU) like it, flaunt it!

  • I have different edition of this book. I love it. Such an antidote to the endless mid-century modernism and neutral colour schemes of today!

  • Some of these photos feature in James Lileks’ book “Interior Desecrations”. Great fun.

    • Heartily agree. One of the funniest guys out there.

    • We have a few of his books and they are EXACTLY what I was thinking when I saw this post. They are hilarious to look through! Makes you wonder what they’ll say about our tastes in decor 50 years from now. lol

  • Trevor and Stump (above) are on to something. Sure. We look at books of this sort– decorating, fashion, even cookbooks– from a bygone day and get a real hoot out of them. But if you have the maturity to appreciate that at the time orange shag carpet was a thing, you may learn the humility it takes to reject the truly dopey decorating ideas of today. In other words, 30 years from now a lot of people will have a good laugh over what your living room looks like today. And so it goes with many other ‘popular’ movements– especially those advised by the so-called experts in their fields.

  • OMG, I love this book. I’M DOOMED.

  • I actually rather like a lot of these but not the hot pink one. Eugh.

  • MAD magazine did a parody called ‘Bitter Homes & Gardens’…

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