Saturday, January 3, 2015

1975 Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Book

You know those dreams where something you need to see is just out of sight? You try and squint and focus to make it appear, but it stays fuzzy.

This is my experience with the Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Book from 1975. 

It was in a three-ring binder, filled with pages overflowing of interior decorating room photos and tips. It was, in my memory, filled with colorful rooms that defied description. 

I asked Mom about it while we were hanging out over Christmas but it's long gone. 

I remember it in our house on the bookshelves for years, both on Kirkdale and Sageville. 

But no one bothered to take a photo of the bookshelves on purpose!

Here's how close I can get:

 ignore that adorable child scratching her butt in fabulous pants and her grandmother showing off a gallon of makeup powder. See the little carat top left? That's the book, just out of the frame. It's 1975.

Again, ignore the Godiva. There's a slightly better view of it on the bookshelf, circa 1987.

This is what the cover looks like:

So, on Christmas Day, I went trolling on eBay to see what I could find. There was one for $5 including shipping without a photo, just briefly describing the book as "good." The others were more expensive, on auction, and required additional bucks for shipping. So I rolled the dice and snapped up the buy it now "good", without photo, for $5 total. 

It arrived this week. 

It is not only good. It is pristine. The little plastic front sheet protector is still in place. I'm not sure anyone has opened the binder in 40 years. 

So I've spent some time before bed pouring over the pages again, remembering, and, often, howling in pain as my head threatened to explode with the awful interior decorating of the 1970s.

I'm on the hunt now for the 1957, 1961, and 1968 books, since those will basically contain a lot more pictures of mid-century modern, before the moss and mushrooms and insanity of putting wallpaper on the ceiling took over. 

There was one photo in the '75 book I really liked:

There were about 40 that I needed smelling salts to recover from.

I give you, the best of the worst of the 1975 BH&G Decorating Book. 

Is that a scepter marking the place in the medieval text on the metal table?

Also, count the number of photos that include an ashtray or four.

Do not adjust your sets. These rooms really are glowing. 
If you stare long enough, the walls start to melt.

they are ready for the power to go out here. Who's the 8 foot giant that lit the two dozen candelabras over the mantle? Orange shag, orange couch, red and brown accents . . . and a zebra chair?

The black and mirrored ceilings make me a little cross-eyed, but I can't work out why that one knob on the black cabinet, under the confusing skater photo, is "up" instead of "down."
I'm also not too certain if I got sat down on that couch if I would ever be able to climb back out.

 I remember thinking that chair had a smiley face. 
Now I want to know why the Leonardo DaVinci book is upside down. 
And what that grilled box is supposed to be on the top shelf.

Is it the metallic sheer curtains, metallic painted walls, or the floral daisy carpet?

the wallpaper and the curtains . . . gawd. Now add hot pink.

The loud florals are bad enough, but so many of these rooms are pairing them with crazy wallpaper. I'm pretty sure this is where I get my aversion to wallpaper.

my eyes!
I also have a deep aversion to wicker.

It's the SAME room. .
Someone actually put metallic red wallpaper on the ceiling and then cross-colored with blue. 

It's a full green velour wallpaper. What's supposed to be in that frame? 
And why is the screen divider in the corner dividing nothing but the window from the room?

This is one of those where I just kept saying, "I don't understand."
What is that snowy picture on the floor? And what's going on with a low window and
  . . . denim squares where other windows should be?
Curtains and wallpaper, all the way to the peak of the ceiling.

okay, I don't hate this one. 
I just remember the purple mushroom lamps, 50 pillows, and Russian nesting dolls fondly.

muted persimmon

quite effectively?


what is happening on the ceiling here?
Black, red, yellow, and . . . a Chewbacca rug

Conversation pit!
But what's going on with the liquid metal blobs on the door?

Is the couch wallpapered?

I had the L-shaped bed like above! Nods given to the 70s accessories, 
especially the frogs and fluffy dogs.

"punchy wallpaper" -- that's probably true, but not in the way they intended 

Between the linoleum, those bizarre tables, the Sesame Street prints, 
and forward thinking "1976" for a book published in 1975, this one's a winner.

wallpaper moves on its own, no LSD required

How? How does this match?

these arrows are maddeningly unhelpful.
That clown, though, is worse.

This is Old World charm?

Well, son, THIS is "MERICA!


Holly Hobby's dress turned wall-ceiling paper

Right. It's the lamps that catch our attention here.

My lovely little starburst clocks have turned into this.
And what is that mirrored thing sticking out in front of the other mirrored wall pieces?

Best Worst kitchen, hands down:

is that a disco ball light fixture?

oh, yes, it's the window treatments that keep this room "from the realm of the ordinary."


Holy crap. How does any of this match?

okay, this matches. Barf. Check out the sink and fixtures. If only the faucet were blue.

Children's Rooms:

Finally, the photo that inspired my bedroom when we moved into our house on Sageville a year later in 1976:


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