Decoration U.S.A.(1965) by Jose Wilson and Arthur Leamon
I came across this wonderful book featuring tons of vibrant full color photos of some amazing homes that would make a 1960s housewife swoon. The interiors would be right at home in Mad Men Season 5. It's that strange period between the traditional and battleship grey (1950s - early 60s) and the infamous marijuana-flavored 1970s style. It was the perfect blend of classic meets psychedelic, mainstream meets counter-culture.
What stands out most in these pictures is the use of color. It was a counter-reaction to the drabness of earlier decades but, primarily, it was due to technological breakthroughs. Pigments, plastics, and synthetic fibers were no longer just wartime science, but available for the average home. Subsequently, homes across the country exploded with color. From the book:
At this moment the American household is probably the most colorful in the world, Latin America and Southeast Asia notwithstanding.... In a country once starved for color, there is now such an embarras de richesse that we must inevitably revert, for a time at least, to a less heady and more balanced diet. With the experience of twenty years behind us, it is unlikely that we will ever again go on the all-out uninhibited color sprees of the past.
What a spot-on prediction! In the 70s, any semblance of elegance, lavishness or ostentatious was verboten. Things got earthy, simple and homey while the space-age rainbow of the preceding decade was left behind. I like the 70s decor; but, I must admit, the shagadelic groove of the mid-60s ain't too shabby either. Decoration U.S.A. (1965) captures that vibe perfectly.
From the book: "No one nowadays would blink an eyelash at a bathroom like [the one above] with its riot of red and white marbleized paper, its red rug and curtains and its white tile floor and lavatories - for white is still needed to keep color in its place."