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Modern Design Mishaps?

26 November 2009 No Comment

I bought this ’50s Ladies Home Journal book on decorating a few months ago thinking I would sell it but decided to keep fit or myself as the photos are so great. These modern design books are always so much fun to look through and I enjoy the vivid technicolor rooms as opposed to the white-washed trends out there today. I thought I’d comment on a few photos in the book, which will appear below after I babble for awhile…


When I was ten, I befriended this little boy who lived down the road. He was a nervous sort of kid–awkward and  little sickly. He invited me over one day and we walked down to his house–an ugly ranch style which didn’t bode too well in the neighborhood next to the older, more rustic, cottagy style homes.

Everything in the house was white: the walls, the carpet, (a shag carpet–after all his was still 1979) , the sectional sofa, the coffee table, the phone, probably even the ashtrays. Style-wise it was slightly constraining to say in the least and I felt instantly uncomfortable. We had to take our shoes off and he was so scared as if his mother would tie him up and lock him the basement if he spilled anything on that carpet. I remember no one was home and anyway, even if his mother was there, she most likely would have rushed after us with a (white) dustpan. She had probably watched the milk bar scene in Clockwork Orange far too many times. Compared to my mother’s house–an amalgamation of shabby crap, (she’d have no problem pairing a Rodin sculpture with say, a Maine souvenir ashtray) old art books, dust, listless stacks of paper, an endless succession of cats and flea market finds on every shelf–his house seemed like a medical morgue.

PB181479 So the point being, is there nothing wrong with a little color and a tad of bad taste. The trick is to already have the good taste and then be able to mash the good with the bad. My mother’s friend Paul always complained avidly about my mother. He’d come to a dinner party at her house wearing a beautiful, well-made shirt. Someone would compliment him of course and Paul would say, thank you, thank you, it’s Brooks Brothers. My mother would then scream out in the background, “Goodwill $1.50! “Paul would turn bright red, “Maura!” he’d moan and roll his eyes. But then again he owned tons of stylish shirts that my mother had bought for him randomly at thrift shops. His entire wardrobe probably cost under $40.

Anyway, on to the photos…I really wonder why the minimal look has lasted so long in recent years–it’s like a pale Swedish bathhouse without the naked people, nothing to look at and you leave feeling sort of tired and drained as if you’re in need of immediate sunshine.

So enough blabbing and here some photos with comments:


Darling, I’m so glad you installed the barometer in the den. Now, the girls and I can discuss air pressure during tea.


“I strive for the perfect assemblage of ugly “country kitchen” decor in muted taupes and tans; it’s my life goal, said Gilda as she showed Mary around the dining room.


I just knew cornstalks dyed blue and an over-sized teapot in the fireplace would complete the room!


All this room really needed was a large blue bathmat.


I’m so glad Dick put up Jimmy’s gun collection. The one aimed at his head is an especially nice piece.


If Jan Brady had a psychiatrist, this would be his office/lounge.


Words fail me.

Or do they? How can one combine white birch paneling, a giant butterfly, a questionable lamp–are those maids frolicking or a ménage à trois? And that strange Lilly assemble in the bay window–curtains becoming foliage?


My perfect world of chintz and romance until Aunt Edie threw in the watermelon pillow.


We still always wonder why Danny grew up to be schizophrenic.


When ties start to take over the bedroom.


Dr. Stanley’s waiting room was my inspiration when I decorated Sally’s room.


I should have never let the candy stripper decorate our den.


Take a faux Victorian stove, rest it on some bathroom tile and surround with ivy; never a good idea.


Let’s drag in our most uncomfortable outdoor furniture to dine on. What fun!


Sure, we have separate beds but Jim thought a mirror would spice things up.

Of course, some rooms kind of work:


The pattern on this sofa is amazing and look, a matching ottoman! And even the plants outside match the furniture!


You can’t go wrong with these lamps.Even if they only seem to illuminate fruit.


Perhaps the best sofa in the world. O,K., it looks a little uncomfortable but this is forgivable as you have your attached end tables. It’s a perfect self-contained world of grace and goodness. And an idyllic mountain scene rests behind you for distraction while the Jones bore you to death talking about their vacation.

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