New April additions
April 14, 2001 9:51 PM   Subscribe

New April additions to the "Interior Desecrators" gallery of horrific 70's design will leave you in awe (or gouging your eyes out, it's your choice). You'll wonder who on earth would ever use a bathroom like this, if you were child how on earth could you sleep in this room, and why, why, why? It's already 20-30 years behind us, but I distinctly remember looking at my parents' Better Homes and Gardens books like this and wishing I lived in those high tech interiors. Remember to check back each month for updates.
posted by mathowie (14 comments total)
Rest assured that in 2020-2030, people will look back on circa 2000 decorating magazines and be just as horrified. The more hip and fashionable you strive to be today, the stupider you will end up looking in your children's eyes when they find the box of photos and videotapes you hid in the back of your closet.

(I thought the "Where the Wild Things Are" room was kind of cool, myself.)
posted by aaron at 10:01 PM on April 14, 2001

I agree, that room looks cool to me today, but if I were a child I would have been horrified ("can't sleep, clown will eat me...").

When I had to decide on a wedding tux last year, I purposely picked the hippest thing they had in the store. Nothing puts you in the exact moment like looking back and seeing blue tuxes with ruffled shirts and knowing it was 1978. I was hoping my photos would make people scream "you wore that in 2000?!" decades from now.
posted by mathowie at 10:19 PM on April 14, 2001

"An old fashion remains a curiosity; a fashion but late gone by becomes an absurdity; a reigning fashion, full of life, strikes us as the very personification of grace."*
posted by sylloge at 1:29 AM on April 15, 2001

I was ten or eleven when my mom bought "Where the Wild Things Are". I loved it. I would have loved that room. Even now at 40 something I saw that room and thought "Oh, wow! Cool! I guess that dates me.
posted by bjgeiger at 2:58 AM on April 15, 2001

Okay, so this maybe overkill, but I just had to post this one.
posted by bjgeiger at 3:37 AM on April 15, 2001

I should have posted the entire "Wild Things" picture - the Sendak stuff smothered every inch of the room - the furniture, the doors, the doorframe, the poor dog in the corner who'd been sleeping when mom swept in at the acme of her manic cycle and decided to do the WHOLE room AGAIN - it was a bit much.

And, not growing up with Sendak books, it struck me as a little . . .overwhelming.
posted by lileks at 7:19 AM on April 15, 2001

As amusing as this site is, I'd like to point out that by claiming "millions of American homes" looked like this, Lileks is setting up something of a straw man. Er, straw room. Whatever.

I lived through this decade, and in a place where there was plenty of money to carry out desecrations like this, and I can tell you, most American homes looked no more like this than most contemporary American homes look like the ones in Architectural Digest. Yes, you had straight-from-hell details here and there -- a friend had the round-plastic-everything-in-sunflower-yellow thing going on in her room, and her mom had the plastic CLOCK thing on her kitchen wall -- where the clock face is in the "O," get it? Clever? CLEVER? -- but for the most part, we kept our wits about us.

Shag carpeting, yes. Purple plastic furniture? Only in magazines and Better Homes and Gardens decorating books. But I understand we're all here for fun. And it's a very funny site.
posted by nance at 7:27 AM on April 15, 2001

The bathroom was definitely my favorite.
posted by kindall at 9:15 AM on April 15, 2001

I remember (with some horror) growing up with the orange naugahyde couch on pea-soup-green shag carpet. *grin* I also remember my mum putting huge posters of...I can't even remember what they were now, except some sort of cartoon-y character...on my closet doors and me taking them down and stuffing them IN the closet in the middle of the night 'cause they were staring at me and I couldn't sleep. Oh, and obnoxiously orange nubby curtains and string-art (anyone else remember the strings and sequins?) wall-hangings in the dining room.

I have to admit, when I saw the "Wild Things" bedroom, my eyes were drawn straight to the TINKERTOYS! I miss them and I want some!

posted by NsJen at 10:09 AM on April 15, 2001

Very interesting site and take on pop culture, especially for those of us old enough to have grown up in rooms like these. It has me thinking about the difference between design and fashion, since good design (according to some schools of thought) never really goes out of style. I've often wondered whether this era was a reaction against the freestyle 60's, or a poor attempt to incorporate some of the flower-children's "anything goes" ethos into more mainstream culture. The derivative 70's revival of the last couple years (TV, fashion, music) amazes me. Did smoked aviator sunglasses ever look good on anyone? But this seems most popular with people who are too young to remember this stuff the first time around. Perhaps any era that's before one's time garners a certain amount of retro hip. There is already a whole pre-made template of reference (movies, TV reruns, thrift stores, print), so an era can be absorbed without having to invent something completely new from scratch. I suspect that good design is always good design, but the details are not immune to fashion. After all, many well-respected designers of today lived in interiors like this 25 years ago. Doesn't this one look dead-on like one of the rooms from the Tales of the City series?
posted by sixdifferentways at 10:12 AM on April 15, 2001

Some friends moved into a 1950s ranch that was renovated in the 1970s. First thing we did was rip out the 4-inch-thick shag carpet in the living room. Yes, it was still there in 1998. Ugly as an XFL playbook, but it was mighty comfortable for us to camp out on that first night. They've retained (so far) a basement bathroom with no windows but frighteningly bright orange-and-yellow suns wallpaper, and a quaint array of clown pastels that adorns the blonde-panelled basement stairway.

I really don't think people will look back on 2000 with near this much horror, aaron. The 1970s were a period of notorious excess in so many ways. It's actually kind of nice to be living now -- the fun parts of the 1970s are being resurrected as retro, without the parts that stripped the gears of your brain ....
posted by dhartung at 10:21 AM on April 15, 2001

My room at my mother's still had a bunch of shag carpeting upstairs when we moved in. Incredibly ugly reddish-brown stuff. Vomit would complement it nicely. We tore that all out and put in tiles. Oh, and painted the room teal. Never having been in fashion means never going out of fashion, right?
posted by dagnyscott at 1:36 PM on April 15, 2001

I was in high school during that time was hideous then, it was hideous husband is a realtor and I am always horrified to see the remnants of that disgusting decade left behind in what from the outside look like perfectly normal personal "favorite" was the RED countertops in one house he sold....and don't even get me started on shag carpeting......let us just say when cleaning up after sick small children, it is not the preferred floor covering.
posted by bunnyfire at 5:17 AM on April 16, 2001

tip: hoard your copies of Wallpaper*, so that in 20 years time, lileks can buy them from you with the university grants he will doubtless receive for the project.


And people wonder why I wear black.
posted by holgate at 9:28 AM on April 16, 2001

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