Style Time Capsule: Decorating Advice from 1975

One of my favorite decor books is the 1975 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Book. I periodically return to its pages for some sassy color and words of wisdom, and this time I thought I'd share. I love 70s decor, but even if it's not your thing, the decor advice has held true over the decades.

Here are some choice bits and pieces from the text (all text and images ©Meredith Corporation, 1975):

You are experienced in decorating whether you know it or not. From the time you first voiced a preference for one pot of fingerpaint over another color, you have been developing your own tastes.
Atmosphere calls more for planning than it does for cash, since it is the total, cohesive feeling or mood of a room. You can achieve the desired atmosphere by deciding on a theme and sticking to it.

Which Life-Style Suits You?

  • Carefree party-givers like to entertain at home, with the major accent on informality.
  • Diplomatic entertainers often have guests that they do not know very well, so they prefer more stately surroundings.
  • New-family homebodies have to struggle to keep the skates off the stairs, the toys out of the adult corner of the living room, and the furniture from showing the impact of preschool and early school exploration.
  • Serene stay-at-homes have pursuits that demand relative quiet, such as reading or enjoying music. A well-designed study full of categorized resource books and a room designed for optimum sound verity are good options for this life-style.
  • Late-working husbands may see the home only during darkness for five days of the week, so carefully consider this when you are choosing its decoration. Sunny light colors usually are preferable under these circumstances.
  • Working wives have to arrange and decorate their homes so that a minimum of upkeep is needed. Soil-resistant fabrics and carpeting and few dust-collecting accessories enable them to restore a home to order quickly.
  • Mobile families are an increasing proportion of our population, and, like chameleons, they can learn to take their decor with them to blend it beautifully into new environments.

Your dominant color should cover about two-thirds of the room's area. Equal areas of color are far less pleasing than this division. The obvious areas to be covered by this main color are the walls, ceiling, and perhaps part of the floor. Since such a large area is to be covered, the dominant hue often is toned down with the addition of gray. In this way, a dominant yellow for the walls can become a mustard yellow or an antique yellow.

The stronger the contrast, the less you need for impact.

Use innovative room arrangement to minimize any boxy look. There is no rule that says that you must line up your chairs along the wall, so arrange them in a group that attracts the eye. Or, put the bed in the middle of the room and use it as the decorative focus.

Stamp out sterile spaces. The most impersonal, undecorated areas of most apartments are the hallways, bathroom, and kitchen…Make them say as much about you as the other spaces.

Plan a private retreat. Psychological separation is sometimes just as effective as a physical barrier. You can take a corner of your living room and turn it into a private retreat. Furnish it with a comfortable chair, and surround it with plants and a lamp. Make it an area in which you can feel apart, if not alone, and which says you others that you cant to be alone.

You can find used copies of the book on Amazon here, or you can always head over to Better Homes and Gardens for some contemporary advice.

(Image credits: Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Book, 1975)