Home Improvement

Worst Home Decor of the 1960s

  • Wood paneling

    Wood paneling  (sethinacan)

  • lava-lamps


  • Lava lamp

    Lava lamp

Sure, much of that Mid-Century Modern home decor from the 1950s still looks pretty darn swank -- especially if you're a "Mad Men" fan (and who isn't?). So, we're not quite sure how it all went straight to hell one short decade later. It was the '60s -- maybe that's explanation enough. In our final installment of Worst Home Decor by the Decades, we're turning our critical eye on the not-so-neato looks of the celebrated era of free love and counterculture.

After immersing yourself in the worst home decor of the 1960s, make sure to go back and check out the faux pas of the '70s, '80s, '90s, and even the aughts, if you missed them.

And if you do find some of these deadly decor pieces still lurking in your home, don't wig out, just chuck 'em. Peace.

Plastic on furniture

"One word: plastic." The movie "The Graduate" came out in 1967, and though Mrs. Robinson didn't have plastic slip -- covered furniture in her pad, many a '60s kid grew up getting stuck to their living room couch if their thighs got even a tad sweaty. Couches are meant for snuggling up on, not protecting like some mint "Star Wars" action figure. Like, what are you saving this stuff for, exactly?

-- -- --

Wood paneling

Dark, cheap, and out of control -- that's how we'll describe the wood paneling fad that swept America from sea to shining sea. Entire dens, kitchens, and basements were covered with the stuff, inspired by the Mid-Century Modern movement's love affair with wood such as walnut or rosewood. One problem: The paneling was often made out of plywood or particle board, making a room look shoddy and low-rent. The irony? Wood paneling is expensive to replace because it was usually slapped up directly on wall studs.

-- -- --

Vinyl siding

We guess aluminum siding wasn't quite ugly enough. So the vinyl stuff came along in the late '50s and flourished in the next decade, gobbling up the remaining homes that once boasted lovely clapboard or wood shingles. And the plastic exterior cladding shows no signs of going anywhere, although luckily, vinyl siding has made massive advancements in look and quality from the cracked and faded version of the '60s.

-- -- --

Bad linoleum

This flooring made out of linseed oil actually dates to 1855, when it was invented by Englishman Frederick Walton. Yet the rubbery surface lay largely forgotten until it was rediscovered with a vengeance in the '60s. Soon, every kitchen in America was covered with rolled or tiled linoleum. Sure, some patterns were cool. But most hit the trifecta of ugly: tacky, beige, and boring.

-- -- --

TV trays

The first TV dinner hit America's ovens in 1954. But how could you eat this "food" served in an aluminum partitioned container and still be able to eyeball "Bewitched"? A dining room table was too stuffy for the swinging '60s. The answer: Park on the couch with individual trays for the entire family -- often in a faux parquet wood -- that you had to hunch over in case you dropped a corn niblet.

-- -- --

Tie-dye furniture

Face it, tie-dye is barely acceptable on Grateful Dead concert Ts. So the variegated pattern should definitely not adorn textiles that cover sofas and chairs or serve as wall hangings. While the spirit of Jerry Garcia will live forever, this decor trend should rest in peace.

-- -- --

Lava lamps

The lyrics for the 1967 Beatles song "I Am the Walrus" just may have been composed while they were staring at a lava lamp. "Goo goo g' joob, goo goo g' joob" should be the sound the colored wax blobs make floating up and down in the lamp's liquid. And while pop art posters lit with black lights are conducive to writing an album that touts the benefits of LSD, psychedelic decor is actually not that cool in the harsh light of the present day. Yeah, we know they had a resurgence. Briefly.

-- -- --

String art

Why is there so much string art collecting dust at thrift stores? Blame the kits and books on the craft that drove the '60s fad. While geometric patterns are pretty to glance at, no one really needs to stare at a Quadratic Bzier curve day in and day out.

-- -- --

Gadget overload

The late '50s and '60s were all about embracing futuristic and Space Age designs. Many "homes of tomorrow" featured electric appliances … oh, so many electric appliances. There were electric coffeepots, electric razors, electric can openers, electric knives, and the portable electric dishwasher. The rest of the home was crowded with gizmos like a belt massager that supposedly exercised for you and the Lite Alert Wee Alert that promised to help stop bedwetting by "conditioned response training."

-- -- -- -- --

Watch: Do You Need to Remodel Before You Sell?