The early part of the 1940’s was consumed by World War II, and consumer buying habits generally reflected that time of scaled back economic condition. This meant that developments in housing décor went largely stagnant until when war ended in 1945. Much of this was due to the economy, but also the shortage of materials resulting from interruptions in trade routes and the redirection of available resources to wartime products and services. At the end of the war, the American economy transitioned into a more thriving and lively environment, opening the door in many ways for an evolution of American style and decorative freedom.
Art Deco was an extremely popular motif during the 20’s, 30’s, and early 40’s. This style represented glamour and was expressed by rich colors, pastel accents, and bold patterns based in symmetry. By the end of the war in the mid 40’s, America started to move past the Art Deco style and more into earthy tones and more patriotic colors, such as red and blue, as a result of the prosperous new America.
Interior décor consisted of bentwood furniture, vinyl coverings, glass, and lots of chrome accents. The Formica tabletops and vinyl toped chairs that have become stylish vintage pieces nowadays were a mainstay in the 1940’s household.
Linoleum became a popular choice for kitchens, dining rooms, and bathrooms. It would clean easily, was strong and durable, laid down fast and easy, and came in tons of patterns to fit any taste. Creative uses for linoleum included creating inlays where two or more different pieces were laid together to create larger and more elaborate patterns. As for the rest of the house, when hardwood floors became passé, it paved the way for carpeting wall to wall – which was a more luxurious option and made the house feel warm and inviting. As the men were returning from war, homes needed to represent warm and comfortable places for the reunited families to spend quality time and reconnect.
The interior design of the house in general was driven by the popularity of home decorating catalogs such as the ones designed by Hazel Dell Brown, the Armstrong Company’s Director of Interior Design. The catalogs featured less clutter, more symmetrical design, and more open space for the family to gather.
This time period in America was lively and vibrant, full of creativity and some of these concepts are coming back in designs ideas of today. Are you inspired by 1940’s interior design?