80's don't throw me back

As much as I love all things retro, even I have to confess there is a charisma chasm that happened in the early 1980s.  Maybe the eighties were the beginning of the end for mid century style?  If home decorating in Perth, Western Australia is anything to go by, it was most certainly a low point in the design files.  

This was the local glossy (now that's an unjustified compliment) for home decorating enthusiasts in early 80s Perth.  My Mother used to buy it, and god bless her, still has a stack of copies.  Thanks to inspiration from Kylie and her wonderful op shop decor book find, I'm compelled to drag them out and conduct some cruel harsh cultural analysis (that's the comms studies scholar in me).

Just to set the scene, if you were looking for decor inspiration in October 1981, you would probably be perusing this cover and saying "hmm, now that exposed brick and nic-nac laden bench top does look good".   And trust me, this is a better one.

I need to do a LOT more research into this, but it would seem that the magazine relaunched to be WA Homes and Living (or maybe it was a completely different magazine and the two were fierce rivals) which entered the barren media landscape that was magazine publishing in Perth at the time.

Here, meet the team!

To be fair, I have a photo of my own fourteen year old self taken at the time and I too was wearing a knitted jumper upon a collared shirt.

So the crew's on board, all set to shake up the world of Perth interior design.  Let's go girlfriends!

Or, not.  You would have thought, after nineteen issues, the creative flair might have kicked in and we would be believing that Perth is moving with the times.  Instead, we have this issue, which I'm looking at and scratching my head as to why on earth I would be motivated to buy it.  A combination of truly appalling and badly lit photography, drab artwork, lame editorial and frankly shite content generally add up to one seriously bad consumer offering.  But who knows, maybe in 1983 I might have looked at this cover and though "now that's a back yard I'd like to party in". 

C'mon, let's go inside!  This Claremont gaff is the home of (wait for it) a leading couple in the Perth fashion industry.  Mrs peroxide perm is enduring the gin hour in her velour jumpsuit with a rum and coke on the go, at the bar.  Sorry, I'm getting unkind now.

With a DPI of about 6, this photo spread hardly does 34 Cliff St Justice.  It was probably quite nice in real life.

Magazines would not be on the newstands without advertising.  Most was truly dreadful (think local cinema advertising), but some thankfully injected some marginally better art direction via an ad agency.  Here we have some particularly poignant images of the era.   Catt furniture made wonderful quality furniture in Perth over the mid century decades, indeed we have a table and chairs from this range above.   But I draw the line at those storage units, made all the less appealing with the submissive big-hair doe-eyed chick on the carpet.  

Timeless slate?  Yes, it did become timeless because it's so bloody hard to rip out and a bunch of unfortunate people have been stuck with it long after it lost its quarried charm.

But what you won't see, anywhere, is an interior void of.... an indoor plant.  I struggle to find a single room without a potted plant.  Indoor greenery was derigour, but has quietly slipped out of vogue over the past few decades.  I reckon this might be changing now though, as the odd potted palm can now be seen around.

Naturally every indoor plant with not complete without a wicker basket.
I could have kept going way beyond this small selection from the pile I have here.  But no need really, you get the general idea.   I also have national magazines from the early sixties which look slick in comparison, proving it really was a time and place thang. 

Now look how far we've come.  Perth's interiors scene is sailing ahead with the Scoop Stable which easily compares with any national or international mag publishing.  It's not rocket science to work out how factors like the internet, travel and a global trends impact on media production, even in a lil' ol' town like Perth.  

So why were they SO bad these magazines, was it the time, place or both?!


  1. These old mags are great.
    I'm starting to feel a bit of love for the eighties, and (and I can't believe I'm saying this!) slate.
    The Claremont fashionista has a Sara Moon print on her wall, and her child has a huge demonic looking clown in her bedroom. Nice.

  2. oh and my red clogs: they're Italian, leather, brand new - still in the box, my size, and FIVE BUCKS in our local oppy!

    1. Now those clogs might deserve a post all of their own please!

    2. You have hit the nail on the head annie! Kath and Kim was just a twinkle in our eyes then. And yes, I think Kylie is well due a shoe post...

  3. There is something very Kath and Kim about that peroxide permed mama in velour. The eighties couldn't help it. They were following hot on the heels of the 60's and 70's and that would make any decade feel beige.

  4. Hey Patsy, check this:


    the most gorgeous hasbeens ever!

    p.s. can you email me your email please?

  5. Hi Patsy! Happy to have found your blog!
    I see Kylie is a regular - and any person/blog Kylie visits regularly, must be good people.
    This article is great - I laughed out loud at your comments for the perm lady in her sexy valour tracksuit - something to behold. I've had to go back and look at that photo at least three times - I've never seen a perm quite like it - a helmet perm?
    The 80's def had the movies, the music, the big hair - but sadly not the furniture. I don't think I've ever been tempted by an 80's piece of furniture or decor, fabric etc at the oppy or out thrifting. Very interesting.
    Although, I have recently decided that I like a few of the Sara Moon prints and want one for home. Is that bad? That's bad isn't it?
    Donna : )

    1. Hi Donna, a big welcome to you! Sara Moon is the thin edge of 80's wedge... Look forward to reading your posts.


Love getting comments from blogland...