A Look Back at the Decade that Inspired The Help and Pan Am

Better Homes and Gardens August 1965 cover
1960s-based movie The Help and ABC's just-launched period drama Pan Am have revived interest in the rollicking '60s -- and stylists for The Help even looked to the pages of Better Homes and Gardens for inspiration. So we've taken a peek back, too, and loved what we found. These retro covers plus tips from our 1960s features will excite you today.

"100 Ideas for Under $100" - October 1965

Prices have changed quite a bit since this '60s-era feature (a copy of BHG was a mere 35 cents), but the economical home ideas we featured are still inspiring. Our budget wallpapering tip of 1965 was "give dimension to an ordinary hallway by gluing three identical strips of wallpaper to the wall, squared off and spaced evenly." It's a trick with staying power -- wallpaper is more popular than ever, but papering an entire room remains pricey. Check out our modern collection of tips for wallpaper accents for the latest ideas.

"Planting Guide" - January 1962

In the chilly winter of 1962, we were focused on what bulbs to plant for spring. (And, yep, every January you'll still find us pouring over the seed catalogs!) A '60s era tip we still follow? "Use color in masses if you want the best visual effect in the garden -- and plant enough to cut for use indoors." Here's a rainbow of new ideas for the prettiest plantings this year.

"The Best Storage Ideas We've Ever Seen" - April 1963

This issue highlighted an interesting storage idea for fancy dresses (something we've not seen since), dubbed "party drawers." These long narrow drawers were meant to hold long dresses for special occasions-and we claimed that storing them flat protects them from "the crush of a crowded closet." (Hmm. We've seen clever closet organizers take over since.)

Another idea our 1960s editors loved? "Turn an old mailbox into a garden tool chest -- it's weatherproof, so if you forget to bring it inside, your tools are protected." Smart!

"Good Living Ideas" - October 1962

We couldn't wait to read the 1962 feature "How to Put More Good Living into Any House." Now that's something we still strive toward. Our editors highlighted the importance of a creating a comfortable meeting place for families, saying, "A conversation area isn't a luxury, it's what makes your living or family room a success." Amen!

"How to Have Peace & Quiet at Home" - June 1962

Ahh, a serene spot to relax in is something we'll always want. Our 1962 ideas included turning an unused garage into a private retreat (the homeowners featured replaced the garage door with sliding glass and finished the interior), topping off a terrace with a shade-making canvas cover, and encouraging ivy to grow in the spaces of a board fence. Sound good for your current home, too? Here are 20 updated ideas for crafting a stress-free space of your own.

"Good Furniture that Won't Scuttle Your Budget" - June 1966

We said it then, we'll say it now: It's easy to give old furniture a new look with a few touches of hardware and molding. One easy update our editors loved in 1966 involved adding fancy molding to a plain door, and then painting it white to unify the look. It's so simple, it's no surprise this DIY designer door trick is still in use. Check out our modernized guide to customize your own door.

"Decorate Fast -- with Fabric" - October 1968

We're still in complete agreement with these '60s-era tips for using fabric as a decorating tool (and we're fans of retro fabrics, too!)

-- "A print can provide a room with a focal point and camouflage faulty proportions."

-- "A one-fabric extravaganza works best when colors are quiet."

-- "Small rooms grow big in decorating stature when patterned fabric comes on the scene."

For more project ideas, check out these fast fabric facelifts.

"Add Punch to Your Color Scheme" - September 1965

The lemon-orange pie on the cover wasn't the only thing bright and beautiful featured in this 1965 issue. One color story included the statement "our favorite color is a rich shade of bold." (Yes, indeed!) We called out yellow as the color "perfect for cheering a dull, dark room that never gets much exposure to sunlight," an idea we still stand behind today. Check out more ideas for adding this sunny shade into your decor, from soft butter to canary.

"Weight-Watchers Desserts" - April 1960

We chuckled to see a dessert dubbed "Conscious Cake" in a salad- and sweets-based feature in this April 1960 issue. The recipe called for lime gelatin fluffed with nonfat dry milk, molded into a ladyfinger-lined dish -- for only 125 calories. Not bad, but we think these five ways to lighten desserts may serve you better in the present day.

"Pattern Plus" - August 1965

New ideas for decorating with colorful patterns were abloom in 1965, but one tip caught our eye as absolutely timeless: "Always take a sample of a pattern home before you buy. You may find that what looks stunning in the store is not so handsome at home." So, so true -- in any decade.

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