Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Book Review: Fifties House

Fifties House by Catriona Gray is a wonderful glimpse into mid-century home design, with three main sections, focusing on rooms, houses, and decoration.  The book is a narrated collection of articles taken from 1950's issues of House & Garden magazine,with pages of full colour photographs and illustrations.

Fifties House

There are some little gems - take for example the suggestions from a Spring 1954 issue to "Pad you lavatory seat with bright-coloured towelling", or "Why not have a switch near the floor so that you can turn off the light with your foot when you're carrying a tray?".

The book is so much more than a collection of articles, as it's the narration that helps us to put the features in context, with reference to changing social norms and notes on designers that are not commonly remembered from the era.

This book is an utter delight.  I want to read every word, but I am also impatient to flick through and see all of the inspirational photographs and illustrations.  I can see myself dipping in and out of it time and time again in the future as my household grows and changes, and we decorate, redecorate and redesign our home to meet our changing needs.  As Gray points out in the introduction, interior fashions move at a much slower pace than clothing, and the wonderful simplicity of mid-century furniture and interiors often echoes the earlier decade of the 1930s, an era that I am passionate about and want to reference as much as possible in our home, which was built at that time.
This coffee-table book would be a wonderful gift for those interested in vintage interiors, but has an even wider appeal given that fashions in clothing are also represented throughout by default in some of the photographs, perhaps of a woman in an off the shoulder gown lighting the candles on her 'Carousel' dining suite, or of a man in dapper attire posing casually to advertise a new coffee table design.

Apparently there's a Sixties House book in the pipeline - I for one, will be very excited for its release!

Published by Conran Octopus, Fifties House is out now priced at £30.  I received a copy for review, but as always, words and views are my own.


  1. Oh.. :(
    Another gem I can't get my hands on.
    Maybe one day, when shipping prices fall to a reasonable amount of money. :)


  2. Ooh, this looks really good! Just what I need for some inspiration for my living room... although at this point I'm not quite sure what that's inspired by having now furnished it with a few charity shop buys..! CC x

  3. What an interesting book. I'll have to tell my friends who deal in Mid Century home furnishings about it, they can put it on their Xmas present list! x

  4. Sounds like a great book! Even though they say interior fashions didn't change too much or too quickly from previous decades I would still love to see a book on 1940's interiors and 1930's interiors. Maybe if the 1960's book does well they might thing of doing these other decades.

  5. Ooooh, I think I might know one of the Christmas presents I'm getting for my guy. He makes furniture and loves the mid-century aesthetic. I think he might really get a kick out of something like this.

  6. Oh my word, this sounds so immensely up my mid-century loving alley. I hadn't caught wind of these seriously cool book yet. Thank you very much for the introduction and new wishlist item. :)

    ♥ Jessica

  7. awesome post!!


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