The Vintage Home #21: 1981 Advertising and Décor

No more screwdrivers, washers and bolts.... The Age of the Dial-On Toilet Seat is upon us.  Take care you do not grow lazy and weak during this era of easy lid installs.  In the leisure time this affords you, take up a hobby, learn a new language, grow medicinal herbs.... it is a great gift Mayfair has bestowed upon humanity; but with great gifts comes great responsibility.  Use it wisely.

Here's a few more advertisements and pages pulled from a couple 1981 home magazines.  Enjoy.

The Seventies are over, but the hot tub dream is still alive.... well, it's at least true for the girl in the right corner who seems to be getting all the attention.

And by "spice" we don't mean sex; nor do we mean actual spices.... we actually mean the richness of wood.  Yeah.  You have to dig deep to get to the heart of this wordplay.

You wouldn't know it by the looks of things, but these are actually looters during a riot.    The garage door openers and flatscreens are always the first to go.

Just as hot tubs lived on after the 70s ended, the wood paneling lingered a while as well.  Although, the trend had veered away from the dark, el-cheapo variety that made your rec rooms look like porn dungeons.

The previous ads come to you courtesy of Homeowners How To  (Vol 06 No 4 Jul-Aug 1981).  That is one helluva organized storage system this 80s couples has, with labeled drawers for  "Sponges", "Twine", and bulbs by wattage!  I'm thinking she is a very anal woman.

The rest come from the following issue - Homeowners How To  (Vol 06 No 5 Sep-Oct 1981):

Can somebody out there tell me what game these kids are playing?  I feel like I should know this - if it's too obvious I'll edit this text and pretend like I always knew (heh, heh, heh)

I guess it beats popcorn ceilings.

The next section is about the wonder of blinds...

It's a blind, it's a wall hanging - ah, the joy of blinds.

You too can read awkwardly wearing a dress that matches the wallpaper, upholstery, pillow fringe, and yes, even the blinds.

Blinds matching your sofa - always a classy look; especially, if it's a spectacularly gaudy jungle pattern.

Check how the patterns run straight across the blinds.  You know you're in the presence of a proto-hipster homeowner if you encountered this in a home.  ....Of course, Mr. Kotter had a similar thing going in his apartment, so maybe not.

"Give yourself a facelift" maybe one of the worst ad slogans I've ever heard.

The paneling is nice, but what really makes this room pop are the Barney purple sofas.

Those hanging wicker basket seats were a thing back then.

You too can have a pretty mama hanging on your shoulder if you install glass doors to your fireplace.  Trust me, it works.

Track suits not included.



  1. Yowza! 1981 doesn't seem THAT long ago to me but when I look at these pictures it sure does!

  2. I worked in a big Home Improvements store right out of high school & during college from 1981-86, this was like going home again. We sold z-brick out the wazoo (which was incredibly fragile) z-stone, paneling that went from 6.99 a sheet to 39.99 and couldn't keep enough suspended ceiling slabs in stock.

    I'm surprised this didn't include our biggest sellers--padded toilet seats (in pink, blue or green) and those godawful gold-flecked mirror tiles. People would come back into the store and show us polaroids of their mirror-covered diningrooms (and one guy did his bedroom ceiling) with those razor-sharp squares of death!.

  3. Z-Brick around a fireplace? Wouldn't it melt?

    ApacheDug: The wazoo was incredibly fragile? ;)

    1. Haha--Armpit, those z-bricks would snap in two like saltine crackers! The z-stones were much more durable, personally I thought they were a lot cooler too :)

  4. The game is called Score Four.

  5. I remember seeing, int he late 1970s, when EVERYONE had a waterbed with that velvet patchwork bedspread,
    "old Spain" style molding you put abound your room dividing arch. They were actually made of painted Styrofoam, but they were suppose to make your place look a California Ranchero's house.

  6. If you find a magazine ad for bathroom fixtures with a guy dressed as Dracula, please post it. My father had a lot of these type of magazines when I was a kid and I loved that ad. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure it makes sense.