Practical Encyclopedia of Good Decorating and Home Improvement

I have checked out from the library Handmade Modern: Mid-Century Inspired Projects for Your Home
by Todd Oldham. It’s a fun book with loads of cool projects. I don’t have a lot of faith that the finished pieces would turn out that nice (especially if I’m making them) but it does have a lot of interesting ideas and good tips. And fun rooms like this…


Best part though is that it reminded me of this super cool Christmas present Tim got me a few years ago that I have resting down in the basement – the complete set of The Practical Encyclopedia of Good Decorating and Home Improvement. Published in 1970, "the complete A-Z encyclopedia answers every decorating question — solves every decorating and home improvement problem!"


Volume 2 AME-BAS is one of my favorites. Covers art, atrium, attics, avant-garde, banquettes…


Every time I get these books out I get so sucked into them – such great stuff!





Decorating Ideas




Budget Ideas


Dual Purpose Furniture


These books are going to come in very handy when we find our perfect 70s dream house!

18 thoughts on “Practical Encyclopedia of Good Decorating and Home Improvement

  1. abbyjane says:

    I love mid-century furnishing and decorations. I looked at that Todd Oldham book in the bookstore a few weeks ago – the title seemed promising, but I also felt that the projects may not come out looking good enough really use in my house. Your Practical Encyclopedia is awesome. What great coffee table books! The Avant- Garde picture is really an awesome house.

  2. susan says:

    I love that floral-print end table! I’ve been thinking about getting an unfinished bookcase and giving it an interesting paint job, and I think I might have to try to replicate a similar effect on that project. That is, assuming it’s painted–the pattern is awfully regular, making me wonder if it is decoupaged with printed paper or something.

  3. Backtackr says:

    Man, I need a coffee table like that!!! I love leafing through retro handy-man and hand craft books. My mum has a full set of “Golden Hands” which offers a roller coaster ride through a thousand crafts and vivid colours, offering many laughs and insane inspiration for crafty swaps…
    ps: Mmm apples and srawberries eh? Let me see what I can make of that…

  4. Amanda says:

    Oh man I’m jealous of your local library! Is the Todd book worth buying? I’ve been thinking about it for the past few weeks…Also, have you checked out the new magazine Domino? Its a home magazine by the same people as Lucky..its really funky, not enough DIY, but GREAT tips

  5. Debbie says:

    From the first pic, I love the bench and its fabric. And the plant on the side.
    I did a small table like the green and blue flower power. I decoupaged it with fabric. It was awesome, but I learned the hard way, for lasting quality it needs to be finished with a liquid poly. It makes for a great WOW!
    Hillary, your pictures are always great! Thanks.

  6. Laurie says:

    Oh, I’m jealous too… I’ve got this on my Amazon wish list. I’m about to start re-decorating my office/craft room and could use some fresh ideas. 🙂

  7. Bettsi says:

    Oh, I love those groovy decorating books! I get seriously sucked into them too. They seem so much more creative somehow!

  8. hillary says:

    book says that table is covered in “one of the wide variety of pressure-sensitive foil paper patterns available” shelf paper?

  9. Dan says:

    Hey I have that same set of encyclopedias, but I’m missing volumes 1, 16, 17 and 18. If any of you have partial sets, and you’d be willing to part it our for $, please let me know, I’d like a complete set!

  10. Bonnie says:

    For the record, kiddies, that flower-covered table is called a “parson’s table.” I still have at least one, painted black. (I painted it.) I’m sure I had two at one time (maybe I still do–it’s a big house.) It wasn’t an end table–you put two together (next to each other, with a space between) for a coffee table. Good times.

  11. sara says:

    Even so truly practical and non-aesthetic a manual as the Reader’s Digest Home Manual (1970s edition) included, alongside sane directions on how to remove a sink trap, tips on “marbling,” “antiquing” and “distressing” wood furniture. The projects included in the back are not as extreme as the posted pictures, but definitely of the same vintage.
    But at the time, I was 9 years old, I thought that mirrored vinyl wallpaper printed with black and brown wavy striipes or with giant daisies was cool (my mother brought home old wallpaper sample books).

  12. chris says:

    Thank you so for these images! I too am fascinanted w/ 70’s interior and find myself looking for movies from the 70’s and then spending more time examining the backgrounds/sets then I do the plot.
    What I would like to know is, WHY do we do this? I have always thought I was a little OCDish about it, but I am absolutely fascinated by this era’s decor…I just so grok it.
    thanks again!

  13. Jim Dunn says:

    Inspired by Mr. Lileks, I’ve started putting up a few seventies pics of my own, complete with snarky commentary. It’s just like, except, you know, for the complete lack of talent or real humor on my part. Other than that, they’re identical. Here’s a link, and there are more in the archives. Mr. Lileks, if you’d deign to visit my humble web abode, I’d be very honored. (There are some from other decades, too.)

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