Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Decorating Disasters or Gorgeous Nostalgia?

Since I'm trapped in the house by the ice storm for one more day (I hope only ONE more!), I decided to get busy and clean my office. That lasted for about five minutes. There's gotta be something more interesting to do. Yes! I'll browse through some of my postcard albums again! I'm such a lazy bum.

The first album I extracted from the shelf is my Fifties Interiors collection, which consists mainly of old postcards of motel rooms from the 50s and very early 60s, a time I call the "Age of Orange and Turquoise". Whether you consider them actual decorating disasters or simply examples of the changes in decorating styles in the past 50+ years, these images are pretty jolting to the old eyeballs. Have a look.

The Holiday Mountain Lodge in Rock Hill, NY certainly embraced the turquoise/orange mania.
What were the decorators at the Penn Harris Hotel in Harrisburg, PA thinking when they matched the draperies with the wall covering?
When, for obvious reasons, they were fired from the Penn Harris Hotel, they migrated to Coral Gables, FL and decorated the Atlantic Court Motel.Danish Modern ruled the day at the Beacon Motor Hotel in Ontario, Canada. Bad taste knows no national boundaries.
The decorators of the Hyatt House in Inglewood, CA went for stark and bland. Perhaps a better choice, in the long run.
But, my choice for Decorating Disaster of the '50s is this.... the "waiting room" at the Princess Hotel in downtown Toronto, Canada. It's a women-only hotel, so men were sentenced to sit in this "reception area for gentlemen friends". I wonder how many of the guys stuck it out in that lovely spot.

Granted, I was a kid in those days, but I don't recall everyone having appalling taste back then. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have hundreds of postcards of '50s interiors that are just as bad or worse than these. (And frankly, I'd love to have a room decorated like any one of these today... wouldn't you?) Have fun!

PS - I think the freezing rain has stopped coming down for now. Let's hope.


Anonymous said...

Hey! Since when is Danish Modern considered bad taste?

If you don't have a copy of the Better Homes and Gardens decorating book, I highly recommend it. Great stuff.

Beth said...

Oh Laurel, these are classic! I remember a lot of that kind of decor from when I was a kid, and I love it now for its kitsch. While I couldn't handle the entire house decorated that way, like you, I would love to have one room like this! Perhaps the "rec room." Not too many homes have what we used to call a rec room now.

Here's a link to the resort owned by Kate Pierson of the B-52's. Not surprising that she has gone for that style!


Glad the nasty weather has let up. [fingers crossed!]

Love, Beth

Trevor Hilton said...

When I was in college, at Okalhoma State University from '90-'96, I worked in the Student Union (we called it the Stupid Union). One of the room that could be leased for parties DEFINATELY had a late '60's/early '70's feel to it.

I actually liked spending my spare time in it for that reason.

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to keep you busy for the rest of the afternoon: It Came from the 1971 Sears Catalog.

Best. Site. Ever.

Cathy said...

Omg they really knew how to do it right then eh? I have some old shots of HoJos pretty similar but unprintable here lol. That ladies-only waiting room, I could live in it. Groovy, man.