Vintage decorating inspiration: 1950s contemporary meets now

1950s room illustration

Finding vintage decorating inspiration for your modern home by browsing periodicals and books from a favorite time period is a vintage lover’s happy place. House and Garden’s Complete Guide to Decorating (1953) is powerhouse mid century resource; a stylebook with pictures, illustrations, descriptions and guidelines on lots of the home decor trends from the 1950s.

The chapter on contemporary decor feels like it could have been written to describe vintage modern, a happy co-mingling of pieces from past eras with pieces from today:

Contemporary is based not on an abstract idea but on the way we actually live. Here are some things it has added to our rooms:

A sense of comfort and peace, a feeling that this is not a formal parlor but that a live family belongs here.

The uninhibited approach to decoration, which boils down to confidence in your own taste.

Furniture that blends with easy grace with old or new neighbors, that can be used appropriately in almost any room.

We narrowed our focus onto two rooms from the contemporary chapter that (with some modern updates) are as appealing today as they were then. Let the inspiration begin!

1950s contemporary decorating
From House and Garden’s Complete Guide to Decorating, 1953. 

Room 1: The Contemporary Study

Unlikely roommates from different worlds: the Asian Coromandel screen, the furniture with simple lines that makes the natural wood grain shine, the antique chair with the floral cushion and the saturated color of the rug complement each other to make a room comfortable. The key is to find the right blend of colors and textures and scale that works together. Of course, the best rooms come together from serendipity and scouting, but here’s some shopping ideas to get you started:

Room 2: The Contemporary Parlor

vintage statement art wall
Statement art wall of mixed and matched art styles and sizes from House and Garden’s Complete Guide to Interior Design (1953)

Art makes a room pop, whether set on a dark wall or a light one. Mixing and matching art that you like makes it personal, because like artist Fred Babb says, “Good art won’t match your sofa.” The art wall above is well curated with interesting subjects that have a companionable thread of similar colors. Adding houseplants and a mix of books you love personalizes the room even more. The large sideboard is quite a statement, however it provides copious storage and a generous horizontal surface for displaying treasures . Add seating that stresses comfort and a coffee table that stresses function. Final touch, an unexpected  pop of gold gilt in the form of a chair or a pedestal to add a little old world charm in an otherwise modern room.

 The Modern Take

Komenda's living room
As featured in Domino magazine, Jenny Komenda’s living room

Domino magazine’s feature on author Jenny Komendo’s house is a picture perfect modern take on the decorating ideas expressed so well in the vintage House and Garden book. Rooms to live in, furniture from different eras that gets along and most of all, confidence. Thrift store dresser, comfortable seating, ultra modern table and eclectic art. Perfect.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

You may also like

1 comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *