Open thread: How to respond to social backlash aimed at your mid mod aesthestic?

anne taintor bite meHere is a good one to end the week: Reader “A” (I cloaked her name and state) wrote recently to ask for help in responding to what she called “social backlash” — negative reactions from people in her social sphere who can’t comprehend her passion for mid century design. What shall we advise her, fellow Retro Renovators? Read on for her tale…. 

“A” writes”

Pam,

I’m new to your blog, and I absolutely love it, but if I’m asking something you have touched on a million times I apologize. I made an attempt to search, but came up with nothing.

I’m at a bit of a low point right now, and I’d love some reassurance or commiseration of any sort — or hey– even a reality check!

I’m just starting down the road into retroville– truthfully I’ve loved it all for a long time but wasn’t brave enough to really commit until I lived in California and realized there were a lot of people who loved the mid 20th century as much as I did.

I have recently moved back to my hometown area in [state] and have begun searching for a mid century modern home to buy with my husband and kids, and along the way I am thrifting and searching for “old” furniture from the same time period.

My question to you is, do you ever get bogged down by people’s negative reaction to what you are doing or did? And secondly, was it all worth it in the end?

I love my midcentury things, but I am swiftly becoming tired of having to defend my taste to everyone I come in contact with. My husband is sweet and patient with me, but I think he wishes I’d give it up. My kids are nervous about “living in the 60’s” as they put it, and everyone else falls somewhere between thinking I’m crazy to acting genuinely threatened and angry with me for trying to resurrect the past.

I’m honestly shocked, why are people threatened by different design tastes? Have you ever had these types of experiences?

I keep telling myself that when it all comes together it will be so great and it will be all worth it, but sometimes I feel like it would be easier to give it all up.

Isn’t it strange how strongly people react to retro things?

Thanks at the very least for letting me sob on your cyber shoulder, its nice to come here and be with people with like minds.

“A”

“A”, my first thought, when I read your letter, was that I’d tell these rude people, Bite Me. Hence, the always-but-really-probably-never-appropriate Anne Taintor caption. (Better, I think, to take the high road… much as it would feel good [for a moment] to dish it right back.)

Seriously, I do have a way that I would recommend responding. But I will hold back and let the tribe offer up their thoughts and advice first.

Readers, how would you respond — or how to you respond — to friends and family who question your design aesthetic?
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Comments

  1. says

    Just loving this thread! I started collecting Fisher -price pre1988 toys and gradually more and more 195″s furniture and home wares, filling my cupboards with my treasures. My husband politely smiled every time I waved around new finds but was rather perplexed by my excitement. Recently I retired after 37 years of high school teaching and as our girls had left home we were able to make use of a whole wing of our house for a bed and breakfast suite. It is a complete set of rooms decorated with items from Australia in the 1950s. I have been able to turn my collecting passion into a business which captures the imagination of young couples and families who come to stay and older guests who walk around touching all the items fondly as they remember who had one of ‘those’. It is a joy reading the comments and chatting about the decor.
    Although the house is not distinctively MCM, it does work well. So, for all those who roll their eyes at my collecting I now have a business to help with funding retirement and the ability to share my passion with guests.
    I have also started a vintage stall at a big vintage market selling 50s and 60s treasures. So for anyone thinking I was wasting time indulging my collecting I can now show them my books!

      • Susie Ross says

        And just where is this B&B Sue? As a fellow Australian with a taste for travel and mid-century decor, I would like to visit!

      • says

        Thanks Pam. I should have added how important discovering your blog has been in giving me confidence to follow through with my projects and keep learning about the period I love. In the 1950s Australia had such a small population in comparison to the US that there is nowhere near the amount of finds from that period and searching and learning is really hard. Your blog is such a great source of information, inspiration and fun and I do want to thank you for your hard work and persistance. Though I am such a long way away, it feels great to have a good read of your latest project or find.

  2. Pat Gaylor says

    It’s hard to fuel my passion when people come to my quirky little house and call it ‘different’ or ‘interesting’…in other words, they don’t get it! Stick to your aesthetic, you’re swimming upstream, and against the tide. Embrace your different, unique individuality. BTW, MCM is going so mainstream now that in 5 year’s those naysayers will GET IT…so kudos to you for being so forward thinking! The world needs more people like you.

  3. DeAnna says

    As a fellow collector and a lover of Elvis & Snoopy memorabilia I completely understand what if feels like to have my passions scorned. My advise is take the criticism and turn it around like it is a compliment. When someone says I am weird, crazy or a fanatic I smile and say “Thank You, I always have been and always will be”. When they roll their eyes at the fact a 48 year old woman has a bedroom over flowing with Elvis and Snoopy items, which of course would never be mistaken for a design element, I just smile and say “It fits me. I surround myself with the things I love and it makes me happy.” Each room in my house is a different style and decor. When someone makes a negative comment I just smile, shrug, and say “I am a multifaceted woman who likes a variety of different things. My home is my castle. I love it here. So come in, make yourself comfortable. And if my home makes you uncomfortable then feel free to close the door on your way out.”

    My advice is to hang tough, shop with confidence in your dream, smile a lot, laugh at other’s inability to see your vision. When shopping with others who criticize, just say “You shop with your rose colored glasses on and I’ll shop with mine.” Then keep on doing your thing.

    • Maureen Bajeyt says

      If you’re ever in Santa Rosa,Ca – check out the Charles Schultz museum. There are also life sized Peanuts statues throughout the city!

  4. Nicole says

    Well I can commiserate. Some people (especially family) think our aesthetic is odd and can’t understand how we can like old, imperfect things. We have a 1860s farmhouse filled with 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s treasures. Nothing in our house is pristine or perfect. Some of our stuff shows its age… I prefer to think of this as “character”. We also have quite a bit of horror movie memorabilia that tends to freak people out, and a ton of rockabilly music and pin up stuff which apparently is way too racy for some.
    Being different is hard and sometimes it feels uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as pretending to be something different than exactly who you want to be. So, when I get a back handed comment about my style I just say something like “I hope every feels as happy in their home as I do in mine”. If I feel like being a bit of a smart*** I say something like “our life is too fabulous to be builder grade beige”. If I am actually offended and feel the need to stick it to them I say something like “trends come and go and all those folks who are loving beige and granite and stainless today will inevitably find it passé tomorrow. People are so fickle easily influenced.” That moment when they realize they are one of those people is priceless.

  5. Ali says

    Pam and others,

    I thought I’d write a little update as we have been in our lovely mid century home for a couple of months now. Since writing that email to you, I have had the opportunity to decorate and furnish my home with mainly vintage furniture, some hand me downs from family, and some lucky purchases. I am very happy to report that firstly; I am happier with my home than I imagined, and that second; All of the angry naysayers in my life have completely changed their tunes. I had hoped that it would come together and be worth all of the trouble, and it has! I have had multiple compliments on my ability to have vision and I’m so glad I trusted my gut and forged on. I still have some projects for the future, and I am so glad I have your blog to help me out with them! This has been a good experience for me and my family to learn compromise (together), and to not be afraid to be different.

    Thanks for everything!
    Ali

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