Thursday, March 6, 2014

Colorful 1947 Interiors (Ads and Articles from House and Garden, 1947)

Good morning!

It's Thursday! What a difference a good night's sleep can do, I am feeling downright chipper this morning, which, if you worked in an adjacent cubicle to me, you would know is almost if not ever never the case. What is going on?! Well, I went to bed at a reasonable hour, listened to Suspense on my phone to go to sleep (so! GOOD! So! Free! on, slept the sleep of the dead until 6:30. Got to work, drank my V-8, sat down at the nonfiction desk to start the working day, and realized I have just a wealth of 1947 ads that I emailed to myself from my phone last week that I have yet to share with you. Travesty. These are really too good to miss, so while the only connecting factors between these pictures are a) my interest in them, b) their inclusion in the 1947 volume of House and Garden, and c) oh my goodness, the COLORS of these rooms...I think you should get a gander at them anyway. Want to? Of course you do. :)

Ready? Steady? Let's go:

I feel like the older I get, the more crystallized my ideas of "what I like" and "my style" start to come together, and never have I felt happier, as a little interior decorating/design loving amateur, than looking at these late forties' advertisements and room set-ups. Don't get me wrong, I would never slap a good looking brutalist wall hanging out of someone's hands, or scornfully look into the mouth of a gifthorse bearing some streamlined, atomic metal chair, but flipping through these magazines from the end of that decade have really got the wheels of my imagination whirring. Traditional, but not fussy...sleek, but colorful, whimsical, vibrant. In the same way as I firmly believe you can wear black net, sequins, velvet, and rhinestones to look more Gene Tierney in eveningwear than Gene Simmons onstage, it's possible to take crazy accessories, prints, colors, and art pieces and make them look like the chicest things in the world. Lord deliver us from beiges and greys...why not have a teal dining room carpet, yellowy chartreuse drapes, a painted screen, a chandelier--as bright as the statement of this room is, there's not even an intimation of "silly" here to me. Also, the women's bustles, ringlets, and mantillas...I don't even care, I would give a year's salary to get invited to a swan's ball like this. And it's because the room practically hums with personality.

Ok, can't let go of your neutrals, I understand-- well, why not use them like this?

I'll give a big old Shangela "HalleLU!" to this room's perfectly balanced light and dark and print. The couch in matching print to the drapes should be kind of bad in theory (think Laura Ashley coordinated drapes and overstuffed sofas from the early nineties'), but I think as it's the one white colored item in the room, it looks right sharp. Purple-to-the-point-of-black walls and venetian blinds? With a high ceiling like this, why not. What I really like are the yellow and black coffee table and end table thrown into the mix. I think I would have done the wall in tan and the three tan chairs in purple, but no one asked my opinion in 1947 (how dare they). Also, lemme get those primitive figures and the white coral piece on the tables, THANKYOU, GOODNIGHT.

Glosheen is the name of a brand of curl activator , but in this context, has to do with the wild-and-out fabrics on the curtains and sofa here. In French, the phrase "Oh là là" is used more as a under-the-breath "Ohmygod" or "Boooyyy, we're in for it" or "Oh wow!". While you hear businessmen in forties' movies saying it as "Oooh" instead of "Oh" to mean "How saucy!", in spoken French, it more expresses being overwhelmed or astonished in both the good and the bad senses of the words. I find it ONE OF THE MOST USEFUL PHRASES IN THE GALLIC TONGUE (maybe it's just what my life is like!), and apply it whole heartedly to this tableau. As in, "Oh là là, je MEURS..."Look at the little desk, the bonsai trees, the deco chair, the matching figural Asian lamps, and the couch/drapes combination. I do, in fact, die. I feel like, as much as I chase down print curtains online from places like Anthropolgie or World Market, there's a washed-out feeling to a lot of the colors. How about how RICH these colors are? I may actually like this room more than the first one, and that is saying something (in English, for once).

Last but not least, here's a quartet of interior from, of all things, a Venetian blinds advertising spread. I was just thrilled to death with these light little watercolors showing us more than just clever, colored blinds, but a whole rooms full of treasures:

I just love the idea that however mundane a decorating item as Venetian blinds are to our callous, 21st century eyes (sooo what), in 1947, they warranted a high fashion illustration for each of the four varietals. Embrace the modern, 1947 homemaker. Use these for contrast or coordination. They come in different colors do you even understand. I would print and frame these as decoration in and of themselves-- they're gorgeous. Plus, I do want to be the little wasp waisted caricature aesthete starring in each panel.

In the last picture, is it me, or if the girl wearing a white knit vest with coordinated blouse and long lounging pants? I want it to be true, but I can't say for certain. How would you like some aluminum venetian blinds in your house if they came in colors other than white, beige, and "dusky rose"? The yellow and blue ones are calling out to me particularly, and I'll have to let you know when I get over the last picture. The couch, the plants, the carpet...everything.

Anyway, I have to go grab some lunch (actually, I GET to go grab some lunch, with my friend Kelsey no less...grape leaves, we're comin' for you!), but tell me what you think. Which room is your favorite? How bold do you like to go with colors? Do you have a particular era or design school that just speaks to you for some reason? Let's talk!

Have a great Thursday, and I'll see you tomorrow for Photo Friday! Til then.


  1. this are lounge pants - for sure :-)
    love this colorful rooms, but this crayon box venetian blinds remember me at the early 90´s in berlin where they were everywhere. i´m just a curtains kind of gal......

    1. Curtains are totally classy, I agree with you, there. These ads are trying to convince me to get blinds though, they're so chic in these pictures! :)


  2. I am so digging the placements of the desks I saw in these.
    Blinds: my parents married in 1954, had white blinds like that in living room. Ours were steel, as magnets stuck to them. It was my job to clean them. Really easier than mini blinds. I'd love them in colors like that. Love your old ads so much!

    1. I am so bad about going "All furniture must be moored to the walls unless it is a coffee table"-- I get inspired, like you, by seeing things that are not necessarily flush with the wall but work well in the layout of the room! Like that desk in the purple picture. Done and DONE, it looks so good!

      How neat about your parents blinds! We had blinds but they were all plastic/bendy/lame-o ones when I was a kid, I much prefer the look of these steel ones. Plus, in coordinating colors? YES. I've got a stack of House and Garden still on my desk to get through, so expect more old ads soon!

  3. Those illustrations are stellar. How cool would they be framed??!??! I am drooling.

    1. I know, I can't get over some of the ad artwork in these magazines, it's just some off-the-cuff ad for drapes or carpets or whatever, and it looks like AN ACTUAL DREAM I WOULD HAVE. I'm glad you agree!



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