Have you ever wondered if you were miraculously transported back in time to 1966 what the materials, designs, colours, patterns and arrangements would welcome you in a home?
The 1960s was a period of rediscovery in interior design – an opportune reawakening to the merits of forgotten favourites that were abandoned, perhaps not because they had become cliches. Interior Designers returned to past design, materials and ideas not because they evoked nostalgia but solely because they are good and contribute something of value to the way they lived at the time. Not unlike designers in our current time and place, pay homage to the past while keeping an eye on the future.
The trends in interior design in mid-1960s America involved new viewpoints on what goes with what: this colour with that, pattern with pattern, elegant design with rugged backgrounds. The following is a taste of some of those design trends;
1. The Victorian Fillip
A few things can be as titillating in a room as the extravagant curves of one good piece of Victorian furniture. Delightfully out of context, an elegant old roll-arm sofa covered in white velvet sits serenely amid the most straight-lined of mid-twentieth-century furniture.
2. Moorish Complexity
The fascinating complexity of pattern the ancient Moors were so fond of cut a swathe in this garden room. The vinyl tile is in four different colours and laid right up and over the pool. The antique grillwork screening the glass doors. The iron bosses that stud the plastic-surfaced bank of closets like a Sultans front door. In sympathy with the Morrocan tradition: quiet legless, floor hugging chairs covered with lush, plushy fabric.
3. Lowered Levels
Closer-to-the-floor furniture became an apt and remedial answer to low-ceiling rooms. In this below-eye-level arrangement, all the furniture hugs the floor, includes flat poufs and backrests, rises to normal-height seats with low chair backs. Cubes between chairs can be sat on or topped with marble slabs, or even cradle a record player kept dustless with a plastic bubble.
4. Mirror Magic
Nothing gave a room greater depth, width or sparkle than a mirrored wall, unless it is one embellished as this is with a Venetian mirror-framed mirror. And nothing more effectively steps up the fresh, clean, bright look of one clear colour lightened with white. Pretty trick: three fold screens right angled around corner jogs and standing in for over-curtains.
5. Pattern Medleys
Paisley, blown up to proportions it never knew in a shawl, makes the most dashing of pick-me-ups for this Kitchen. Reflecting a 1960s trend towards combining patterns, the dining room next door is dressed in the same colours (but with less abandon) in a wallpaper patterned with stripes and circles and door-hung, accordion-fold shade printed to match.
6. Nineteenth Century design, 1960s colours
Nineteenth furniture surrounded by a spate of bright colours was a coming idea that appealed to people who liked antiques but dislike fustiness. In this mid 60s “parlour” nineteenth century styles had been given a spanking new look by a vibrant rug, vivid walls, and the inspired use of the curtains’ floral border as a frieze.
7. Brown and White
Softer, subtler, less pungent than black and white, brown teamed with white made velvety news. Nipped with yellow accents, they made news here: on the walls with a flocked paper and in the foyer with stretched plissé. At the windows with plissé over-curtains framing white curtains held taut by rods, top and bottom. Fresh touches at the time were a mirrored screen to add sparkle; velvet patchwork cushions.
8. Calculated Contrast
Once reserved for backgrounds of the brocade and pilaster school, fine eighteenth-century furniture in the 1960s is more and more likely to be set against walls of rough countryish texture. In this living room, rugged rough-sawn planking flatters by contrast the opulent fabrics and glittering gamut of antiques ranging from Chippendale and regency to Conneticut River Valley. Wonderful notion: a collection of Canton China massed like flowers.
Leonard, T. (1966, January). Great Expectations: The materials, designs, colors, patterns, arrangements you will be seeing a great deal more of in 1966. House & Garden.
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