The Vintage Home #19: Better Homes and Gardens (1972)

Can't you just see this recliner on The Price is Right, as a Barker Beauty caresses its luxurious upholstery? Fast forward ten years, and this once-loved, once-proud Stratalounger sits unwanted in a Goodwill or by the street curb, smelling of Pal-Mals.

That's the story when it  comes to home furnishings - when they're nice and new, you can't comprehend the thought that they might one day look embarrassingly out of date.  Here are some pages from a November 1972 issue Better Homes and Gardens; advertisements of new additions to the home that could never possibly look out of date...

Don't do it Ed Worth!  The paneling is a huge mistake. When the next decade rolls around, your kitchen will look dark and inhospitable, and someone's going to have to take it back down.

And don't even think about wallpapering... just paint.  Paint like there's no tomorrow.

In 1972, this was the BH&G ultimate house plan.  Today, this house probably sits neglected in the "bad" part of town.  I must say - I kind of dig it.  It definitely has a Brady feel to the exterior.

Everybody's always off doing their own thing.  How can mom possibly reunite her family?  The answer was under her nose all along - varnish.

Varnish: bringing families together.

From an Ethan Allen advertisement.  It certainly doesn't look kid or dog friendly, but the blue cat statuette is a nice touch, and I love how mom matches the seat cushions.

Nice.  But a little too subdued for my tastes.

There are several advertisements in this BH&G highlighting the amazing world of quick DIY tiling. 1972 must have been the year it debuted.

The "Sun King" shag is a thick, plushy shag, not an "old, long, limp" shag - it's like an "abstract painting" under your feet!

I'm not sure why, but organs were huge in homes back then - my house was no exception.  We all took lessons, but never quite got to looking quite so awesome as the family pictured above.  No 1970s living room was complete without one.

I love how 70s appliances came in such brilliant colors.  Today, we have white or stainless steel.  Back then, it was red (pictured above), harvest gold, avocado green, burnt orange, blue, and - how can we forget - the many shades of brown.

The zebra hide really adds that touch of class.

Sitar not included.


  1. I like the house plan, but only 2250 sq. ft.? How can any family live in such a small space? (I live with my wife and 4 boys in 1800 sq. ft.)

    "Now you can put together a room like this." But why would you?

    You can't give away those organs now. I see them all the time on Craigslist.

  2. I'm a huge 70's-phile. I have about 300 Better Homes and Gardens (and assorted other home magazines, newsweeks, etc.) from the 70's. My house was built in 1973. I bought it in 2010 after the lady that lived there from 1974 died. All of those magazines were in the attic. I built a shelf for them in a closet and kept them all. All of them from the 70's and all of them delightfully fun to read.

    My house (interior and exterior) looks like the above pics. I had to tear out the flooring and strip the walls because it had been smoked in for 40 years but I have successfully backdated it to the mid 70's. Try finding a decent shag carpet (not frieze carpet but shag) or decent wood paneling these days. It's a bitch. Finding avocado appliances is getting very difficult too (of course, you have to replace a lot of parts on them but surprisingly many of the parts are still available). Anyways, I know it's not for everyone but I dig it.

    Gilligan, I know that this site is not the site for retro homes and such but, if you ever want some pics of my house to post on here so everyone can have a good laugh just let me know. I don't mind being the object of "I can't believe someone would live in a house like that today" jokes. It's all fun.

    1. I'll even throw in some pics of my 1970 cutlass wagon.

  3. I love ranch house like the one in the plans!

    Put that thing on a couple of acres of land with lots of trees, and it would be really sweet!

    Oh, and a nice 4-car garage/shop out back.....

  4. AnonymousJuly 28, 2015

    So good to have this site back!
    As Gilligan said: I kind of dig it

  5. My house was built in 1977, We still have the burnt orange carpeting along with wood paneling in living room and a harvest gold kitchen. The harvest gold appliances had to be replaced a few years back. I would love to get rid of the paneling and update but other pressing things always seem to come up that divert our cash.

  6. DiscoDollyDebJuly 29, 2015

    I love the Marushka prints on the wall in the first ad. Would love to find some of those at the Goodwill!

    One day open-plan kitchens, hardwood floors, zen spa bathrooms, and polished granite countertops will look as hideously outdated as paneling and shag carpet. It's the nature of the beast called progress. Sigh.

  7. You bring up "The Price Is Right" and Barker's Beauties. Is this a hint we're going to get an Anitra Ford feature?

  8. Panelling rules! I put it on our basement walls a few years ago where the band practiced. It was medium in color, not too dark for a dark basement. But if I could do our family room now, I'd go with dark panelling.

    We also bought a Wurlitzer much like the one pictured a couple years ago. Had to replace the drive belt on the Spectratone speaker (like a mini Leslie). It really needs all the caps replaced, because it can be quite noisy at times. But damn is it cool!

    And yeah, that ranch plan is so amazing. Reminds me of the Presbyterian church in my home town, which should be added to some historical registry for its mid-century modernism.

  9. I am trying to find the better homes and gardens magazine that my parents built a lake house from. It was from the seventies. Can help if I send a pic. Brian