Jan 31, 2011

1957 Book of Interior Decoration

I picked up this book at a thrift store for the low, low price of $1.90 cents. The Ladies Home Journal Book Of Interior Decoration, published in 1957, was filled with everything the postwar wife would need to know to decorate her household for the go-go fifties. Let's take a tour of our modern decor for a modern age, shall we?

{click all pictures for a larger view}

Let's start in the kitchen, the nerve center of a modern wife's world. The new fashion calls for bright colors, new materials, and stylized cabinetry and appliances. Look at the kitchen below. What was fresh and new in 1957 is now retro. People spend big bucks to make their kitchens look even somewhat like this nowadays.

Men and Kitchens
 "A man's gotta eat, but he's not gonna cook, not gonna set foot in the kitchen, except to pop a beer and cut enough salami to hold him until supper. Because the kitchen just ain't his domain. He could have been under a hood all day, fixing the piston rings of a flathead Ford; or in the operating room, performing a spinal tap on a kid who had a relapse of the mumps; or running the controls of a sixty foot crane - all delicate and painstaking jobs, requiring great skill and dexterity. But enter the kitchen, to be confronted with actually lifting a pan or slicing an onion or filling a pot with water, and he loses control of his major muscles, his coordination disappears, the laws of physics cease to function, and he winds up helplessly in the center of the linoleum.

"The one wrinkle, the one culinary ace up his sleeve, was breakfast. Finger to his lips, he wakes the kids on a Saturday morning and quietly leads them tiptoeing downstairs for Saturday breakfast. 'Whataya say, kids? We'll let Mom sleep. I'll make you guys some pancakes.'

"Out from the deepest recesses of the cabinetry emerge pots and pans that have not seen the light of day since the wedding shower. Bowls crusty with dust get a quick rinse. Because every piece of heavy equipment is needed for this invasion. All the big guns. No paltry European-style breakfast this. Dad's making a meal his way. And soon the Formica is littered with broken egg shells, gobs of flour and milk now hardened into glue, half-filled measuring cups and spoons, a Gypsy-family of bowls and pans and pots and somehow, in the one frying pan that made it to the stove, are gathered a small confederacy of pancakes, waiting to be flipped and served to the adoring,. awestruck progeny. And when, later that morning, the wife looks slack-jawed at the carnage in her kitchen, you can say, 'Morning, Honey, did you get some rest?'"

     From A Stiff Drink and A Close Shave - The Lost Art of Manliness by Bob Sloan and Steven Guarnaccia  LINK

And now let's retire to the living room, where today's fun, functional and stylish new look combines comfort and fashion while keeping up with the Joneses, who are undoubtedly reading the same magazine, since the wives are home all day while their husbands are at work! But, I digress...



Some of the living rooms look like fun places to spend time in, others look like museums, or the kind of room Grandmom had in her house that you were never allowed to go into when Mom and Dad threw you into the car and hauled you over there for the obligatory visit

Take this room for example. It's the perfect room for receiving heads of state, lobbyists with envelopes stuffed with cash and trusted advisers. As for comfort? Not so much.

This room is an assault on the eyes. Wallpaper like this should not be allowed to exist. I feel like I should be getting ready to choose my ice cream flavor and decide if I want sprinkles.

Note the TV with the tiny screen recessed into the wall unit. How did they see anything seated all the way across the room??


Here's another room with a tiny TV, recessed into the wall. This room looks much more lived in

This room has Grandmom written all over it. On one of the tables is a bowl of candies she puts out when she knows the grand kids are coming over. You can practically hear the slow, methodical ticking of a big clock somewhere.

For the occasions when you wanted to entertain in a more casual manner, you had a less formal room, like the ones below. I love the very cool looking TVs in the two pictures below, black and white of course.


Another crime against aesthetics;  the window covering is so loud you'd need ear plugs (and blinders) to spend any time at all in this room. And what's with the pink and green furniture??

It's the OPTICAL ILLUSION floor covering! For when normal floors just won't do!

And last, but not least, modern bedrooms

This picture demonstrates how to make a small apartment cozy

Grandmom's bedroom, with the faint fragrance of makeup, perfumes and mothballs for those outfits she wears only on Sundays or special occasions

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