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Interior Desecrations: Hideous Homes from the Horrible '70s Paperback – October 4, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (October 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307238725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307238726
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.4 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James Lileks is the author of several books, including The Gallery of Regrettable Food: Highlights from Classic American Recipe Books and the forthcoming Mommy Knows Worst: Highlights from the Golden Age of Bad Parenting Advice. He is a columnist for the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis and a syndicated political humor columnist for Newhouse News Service. Visit his popular website, lileks.com, for the whole James Lileks experience.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Entryways

You'd have to take care leaving the house through these spaces; the sudden change in taste could give you the bends.

Look. Folks. It's simple. If you have poor taste in decorating, don't go nuts in the entryway. Wait until your guests are inside before you spring something unusual on them. But, you say, doesn't that fabulous statuary look so right over by the door? It's an ancient Belgian God of Fertility or something. You can hang hats on the erection. Or use it for umbrellas! That' s not the point. Most people don't want to encounter this sort of thing right away, if ever. Especially one that's been handpainted in such a unique fashion. Put it in the spare bedroom; it'll keep houseguests from lingering.

One more rule for bad entryways: don't forget a small table with a bowl on top. It serves no use; there's nothing in the drawer; people bump into it when taking off their coats. But there must be a small table with a bowl on top. It's not the law, but it might as well be.

The visual equivalent of granulated glass in your eyes. Looking hurts. Blinking hurts. Rubbing hurts. Blindness, when it comes, is almost a comfort.

It's one of those rooms that almost feels ashamed of itself:

Don't blame me. I had nothing to do with this. I couldn't move. I watched what they did to the kitchen, heard the cupboards scream out as they applied the dots, one by one by one. . . . I knew I was next and there was nothing I could do. It was horrible.

Atrocities like this are partly responsible for the founding, in 1977, of People for the Ethical Treatment of Entryways.

Says the note in the designer's guide that coughed up this picture:"Gigantic patterned wallpaper in a small area is exciting because it breaks all the rules." Well, a flaming pile of pig crap in the foyer breaks all the rules. Smearing goat brains on the walls breaks all the rules. Sometimes rules are there for a reason-such as keeping you from doing this.

"You can be adventurous in little-used areas." You mean little-used areas like the front door? What, did people enter through the chimney and leave through the coal chute?

This is a foyer. This is the first impression. This is how you warn people your taste tends toward interesting colors, such as those found on the buttocks of a rudely shaved monkey.

Of course, one could say the same thing about the Hindenburg disaster.

Living rooms

The name for these parlors-living room-wasn't entirely inaccurate. Something did live there-a fern, perhaps. Some dust mites. A spider. But humans? Rarely. These were showplace rooms, mausoleums where the examples of domestic style were interred. On any given day the sofa and chairs would be sheathed with plastic condoms, lest the fabric be soiled; the drapes drawn lest the hard mean sun suck the color from the cushions. All these rooms needed to complete the picture was Lenin in a glass casket. The people who stuffed their living rooms with this horrid junk would probably have bought plastic covers for the plastic covers, if such a thing had been marketed. Think about it: Your plastic covers keep the fabrics fresh and clean, but what of the covers themselves? Dust, sunlight, pet dander, parakeet psoriasis-why, your plastic covers are depositories of domestic filth. Your friends understand why you keep the covers on when they drop by for a chat; you're saving the sofa for Company. But don't you owe it to friends to give them a surface that's Company fresh? Introducing new Cover Covers, from Dow Corning! No messy polyurethane rolls with DNA-mutating aromas; Cover Covers, which come in a handy spray can, keep covers fresh for centuries to come.

Or you could just rope off the room.

Or you could brick it up and show people pictures.

Laminate the pictures first. You can wipe off the fingerprints.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Then we read the book and just about hurt ourselves laughing.
B. Weaves
By now, you have probably gathered that I am a fan of James Lileks's writing.
Don Lancaster
In "Desecrations," the photos are ugly, but they're not funny.
Dennis Laycock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Rieback on November 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you thought home decor from the '70s was all about shag rugs and lava lamps, think again. James Lileks, who brought readers a look at tasteless foods from the 1940s through the 1960s in "Gallery of Regrettable Foods," now turns his critical eye to outrageous interior decorating schemes of the 1970s. This "labor of hate" will have you simultaneously laughing and wincing as Lileks introduces you to atrocities designed by decorators run amok and purchased by people who were seemingly in a drug-induced haze at the time. These decorating no-nos were gleaned from interior design magazines, books, and pamphlets. They depict entryways, living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms, and family rooms.

Within the covers of "Interior Desecrations" are infectious pattern viruses that spread like a malignancy from couch to rug to drapes to wall covering. There are bedrooms that defy a good night's sleep and kitchens that cause indigestion. There are photos of vertigo-inducing reflective wallpaper on walls and ceilings. There is a parade of startling psychedelic patterns, nauseating colors that run the gamut from blinding to "downer browner," bad art, and unidentifiable coffee table sculpture for you to ponder. I found a birth-canal shaped bathroom of particularly horrifying interest.

As incredible as the photos are, their impact is enhanced with sharp-witted and hilarious commentary. Lileks throws in such comments as "The Invisible Man would clash with this sofa" and "Visual equivalent of granulated glass in your eyes." He labels especially hideous decor with such designations as "the Taj Mahell" and "Funhouse dining room." Baby boomers beware. If anything will cure you of nostalgia for what you thought of as the hip 1970s, this book will. But buy it anyway - it's wickedly funny.

Eileen Rieback
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By J. Klumpp on October 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A few years ago, when I was dating my now husand, I spotted Mr. Lilek's Interior Desecrations web site. I sent the URL to my beloved, and we spent a long evening on the phone, howling with laughter and spluttering with tears in our eyes and stomachs hurting from the funny.

And then the site disappeared, and a book was promised.

Now the book is here, and oh it is wonderful. The husband and I spent a couple of hours curled up on the couch together, sputtering and laughing at horrifying bedrooms, astoundingly bad bathrooms, and terrifying entry ways. Just like the Gallery of Regrettable Food, you really have to see some of these things to truly believe how /bad/ they are. And just when you think you've covered how bad it is, Mr. Lileks has a snappy comment that puts the awfulness into even sharper (and funnier) relief. Exceedingly witty writing as always from this author.

My only complaints are that a couple of my favourite jokes from the web site seem to have disappeared, and that there are some fairly obvious typographical errors. Nothing that really takes from the readability though.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By S. Radler on November 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ah, we teens thought we were so cool in the '70's. That new TV show about the '50's, "Happy Days"?? Hilarious! Those clothes, that music, those decorating styles! No one, we were sure, would EVER make fun of the '70's.... no, we were too "with it," too "where it's at."

Fast forward thirty years, behold the excruciating microscopy that is Interior Desecrations, and be ashamed. Be very ashamed. Did we ever really beg our parents to buy plastic chairs and shag carpet for the "rumpus room"? Did we ever really think no one could possibly get tired of harvest gold, avocado green, and orange-red as decorating colors? We did. And James Lileks is more than happy to remind us. This sequel to his hilarious "The Gallery of Regrettable Food" had me laughing out loud yet glad no one was around to see me flinch as I saw interior desecrations that our family actually had in our home in the '70's. While there is not as much text to read as in TGORF, there is still plenty to digest. Wait, don't use the word "digest" when you see some of these nausea-inducing photos. I do think there could have been a bit more homage paid to shag carpet, homemade macrame plant hangers, and space age design, but hey, you can't have it all. The pop culture references are also priceless -- take it from someone who ate Quisp cereal every morning and had a crush on Bobby Sherman.

If you lived through, ignored, loved, hated, or merely tolerated the '70's, you have to have this book. If only to remind yourself that while beauty may be temporary and fleeting, UGLY is forever.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Shari Lewis on December 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I was growing up in the '70's my parents eagerly awaited the annual "100 ideas for under $100" issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

My brother and sister and I knew that this meant a summer of "projects" to "update" our 125 year old home.

This book brought back memories of orange plastic contact paper on the kitchen cabinets, patchwork carpet samples on the stairwell wall, macrame plant hangers...(shudder.) The house burned down not long after we moved out. I think it was suicide.

I'm glad James Lileks has documented such crimes against taste in the current climate of 70's retro craze.
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