I'm a fan of pre-1980 books on home decoration

Home decoration and home furnishing are my passion. I want my home and furniture to be practical, economical, safe, sturdy and pretty. To that end, I have studied books and magazines both old and new.

And frankly, I think books on home decoration have gone downhill ever since the 1980’s.

For one thing, older books are all about furniture you can make. Newer books are all about furniture you should buy. Older books are practical, the propose arrangements that do not waste space or energy. And they explain how to do that,.

Newer books sacrifice space to make homes look like magazine pictures. Practicality is no longer important. For instance, in order for rooms to get “a spacious feel” you’re supposed to rid them of everything you actually use, and replace that with an essentially bare room with a big couch, big art on the wall, a big vase of expensive flowers, and one focal useless object, like an ginormous vase with a dead tree in it. Try dusting that. Meanwhile, the family does their living in the basement den. The magainze seems to assume the family would rather watch the dead tree then actual TV.

Another advantage of older books is that time has filtered out all ideas that were just the fashion of the time. It is fun sifting thought the ideas and seeing the ones that still work, that work again because they are back in fashion, and the ones that are currently being turned back because we now like what is underneath all that wood wainscotting. :slight_smile: To see how fashions like kitchen-dining trap doors, sitting pits, fireplaces, aquariums, etc have come and gone makes you more wary of spending lots of mony on the current fashions.

Modern books don’t have that filter yet; ideas taken form those books could very well be ridiculously obsolete in less then five years time.

Older books truly give me practical ideas. Newer books just make me both angry and envious.

One last advantage of older books is reading them is a true nostalgic pleasure. Nice to see hints of the homes I grew up in or visited.

So… does anyone have recommendations for modern books on home finishings that are not thinly veiled commercials?

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I think home decoration has gone downhill since the 1880s.
William Burges forever !

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I agree. Apart from in PCs, the whole do it yourself ethos has taken a hit since the 1970s-1980s. I think that the high point for home remodeling was in the '90s though. A lot of the older stuff seems to gloss over code requirements and sometimes the laws of physics (or so it seemed to me when I last read them back in the '90s.)

Around 1995, the magazines were showing really cool stuff that people were doing (that would meet code and would last), but by 2005, they were highlighting different products that you could use for a project.

So, are there any volumes that you would recommend to read?

Most such books are not for sale anymore, Anthony Elite. You might get lucky in used book stores. The Amazon reviews are no help: [http://www.amazon.com/Domino-Decorating-Room---Room-Creating/dp/1416575464/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1396553285&sr=8-3&keywords=interior+design"]this book for instance, got a lot of good reviews, so i ordered it, but it wasn’t any good.

A good modern book that is still available is not written by an interior designer, but by a housecleaning expert. (!) It is about using materials and designs when building or remodeling a house that are very practical and that reduce cleaning and maintenance. The title is: Make your house do the housework.

My favs are German, Danish and Dutch books.

I love books by Dutch writer Hans Uylenburg. He’s not translated, I’m afraid.

Want an example? He writes that the MSAS (Most Sought After Seat) in a room is determined by three factors:

  1. you have a wall in your back
  2. you can see what happens outside
  3. you can see/or hear people coming into the room before they can see/hear you.

And he gives solutions for such practical problems like how to use a wall when there’s an heating grille in front of it.
Or how to design a bed in a bed-living room when you don’t want visitors to sit on the bed (build a platform edge around your bed that doubles as nighstand and storage).
Or how a bed feels so much cosier if the ceiling isn’t higher then six feet above your head when you lie down.

I also love his very practical theory on contra-shapes. (that is probably not the right word, googling it yielded nothing). How a room feels much neater if groups of furniture line up. You can do that optically, by putting a color or carpet under a table so that the shape of the table +chairs group lines up with, for instance, a piece of wall or a low side table that juts out the same lenght into the room. Oh dear, I’m probably not explaining this right. It lacks the pictures. :slight_smile: