Walking into my grandma’s house was always like stepping into another realm. Her choices in decor reflected a different era and different sense of style than how most homes looked back then. But, despite those differences (or maybe because of them) the charm of her home kept the 1950s appeal long after my grandfather had passed away. For lack of a better phrase, her house was a bit of a time capsule which I love thinking about. Here are a few decorating tips from Grandma’s house that ring true even after all the fads have come and gone.
Never Too Many Plants
Starting in the 1800s houseplants became all the rage. As fashionable as they are today, they were even more fashionable in the 1890s. That fervor for plants carried into the 1930s and 1940s when a bit of cheerfulness was sorely needed. With the scrimping and saving of the Great Depression and then the gloom of World War II, many women kept African violets and geraniums in their homes so there would always be something blooming.
In the 1950s and 1960s exotic plants like bromeliads and palms were more trendy, to go with the themes of Tiki or Polynesian decor. Many of us learned early that plants make a house feel homey and add a touch of joyfulness that is unmatched in terms of returns on investment.
It Doesn’t Matter If Your Dishes Don’t Match
Many women in the old days would pick out their china and silverware patterns carefully when they got married. But, despite the best intentions a lifetime of raising children and a full set of unmarred china don’t usually got together. Over the years a collection of dishes formed, many of which didn’t match at all. But, somehow none of that mattered in the end.
Bric-a-brac Is Not in Poor Taste
If there’s anything we learned from our grandparents it’s that a few tchotchkes never hurt anyone. They add a certain style to a room and who could forget those whatnot shelves made just to hold them? From little statues to plaster wall sculptures and decorative glass these items made it feel like a home.
Don’t Be Afraid to Layer Patterns
In the 1930s the prevailing wisdom of the era held that it was perfectly fine to layer different patterns with each other. In fact, some of the most popular rugs and floor coverings had a dizzying array of patterns in a single product. For instance a rug might have leopard spots, flowers, and geometric shapes all next to each other. Many people carried this ethos with them despite the fact that changing tastes would later dictate matched sets, and later still, neutrals.
Don’t Expect to Build a Lived-in Home Overnight
Many families in the 1960s and 1960s did try to buy those matched sets. 2 of everything, including chairs, lamps, wall hangings, and side tables. There was a certain balance during that time, which contrasted well with the amorphous boomerang and starburst shapes that also were found in a lot of the era. So many of our grandparents started with this style and then added on from there.
You Can Mix Styles and Eras
If it weren’t for mixing styles, those family heirlooms would have been thrown out long ago. Seems like there were always a few of those really old pieces -an early 1900s table, a Mission style chair, or a Victorian rocking chair- that made it clear that there was still plenty of room for the older and more ornate pieces in the home.
Kitchens Can Be Bright and Colorful
Many of those older homes had kitchens that were a colorful mashup of different hues and patterns. Thanks to steel cabinets that came in lots of colors and those wild linoleum designs for the flooring, many vintage kitchens were bursting with color. Add in some formica and chrome dining sets and you had even more bold color. But, it was all part of the look.
It Isn’t a Home Without Reminders of Loved Ones
Some decor sites these days advocate for getting rid of “tacky” family photos in favor of art that everyone can appreciate when they come to your home. But, if there’s one thing to learn from grandma it’s that reminders of loved ones really make the house a home.
So, go ahead and keep that gallery wall of family pictures or that buffet loaded with snapshots. It’s your home and it’s lovely to be able to see the faces of loved ones every single day, even if we can’t see them in person all the time.