Let’s look at interior design styles and trends present during the decades 1930-1970.
Now for the fun part! Studying design trends of the past can’t possibly be more entertaining. Before we begin, let’s look at the slight differences in flipping or renovating a home older than those mid-century ones we’ve been discussing. Comparatively, if a house built prior to the styles of the 30s through the 70s, say a style from 1910 or 1920, the design trends of that time are different. Everything from the architecture & ornamental details to the color choices inside and outside the home differ from later trends. Flipping an old house can involve different dynamics, such as more work involved with electrical, plumbing or foundation updates, but not necessarily tearing out colored countertops, bathtubs and toilets (the cosmetic stuff). This isn’t to say that an old, old house doesn’t have colorful cosmetic detail and funky carpeting, but you’re more likely to find these trendy details in more modern homes. Check out the lists below.
American design trends by decade:
1930s: International style-geometrical shapes, open spaces, light, glass, steel & anti-ornamentation (seen in earlier, Victorian era homes)
1940s: Organic style-chrome, Formica, vinyl, emphasis on natural forms, flowing lines & noticeable curves. Mass-production became popular and, with that, products of the time were designed to eventually become outdated (they weren’t traditional or classic, the designs would fade).
1950s: Functionalism & modernism-Scandinavian design, ceramics, soft pastels, blue hues, new & upgraded appliances. Mass-produced items were now built to be efficient, functional, streamlined & clean. Less frivolous, more functional (and with that, more timeless than products of the 1940s).
1960s: The atomic or space age-Lucite, shag rugs, paisley & tye-dye prints, organic styles married with those embodying futuristic styles. New materials and techniques for mass-production were applied.
1970s: The back-to-nature or hippie style-craft revival, terra-cotta, wood as well as oranges, golds & greens. The over-materialism and consumerism seen in previous decades (products of mass-production) was frowned upon. A more organic, environmentally conscious approach to lifestyle was embraced.
Information courtesy of Complex.com.
American design movements and styles by decade:
1930s, the “Suite” decade: function & form were the focus for interior designs, the word “suite” refers to furniture “suites” or sets that were marketed in lieu of proper furniture placement emphasis and having the proper amount of furniture/accessories to yield convenience and good traffic flow. Moreover, the FHA (Federal Housing Association) was created in 1934 and set the next decade up for regulations on homes, leading to increased lending. The 1930s were the starting point for the mid-century modern decorating style:
- integrate with nature
- ample windows
- open floor plan, bring the outdoors in
- walls of glass
1940s, the suburban explosion: after the war ended, the United States saw it’s largest housing boom ever. City dwellers migrated outside of cities and into suburbs. So, everyone got houses and then they had kids! The iconic baby boomer generation began in 1946. To add, the Depression & wartime eras together created a desire for happier, colorful times…and homes! Comfort was emphasized, opening the door to carpeting & ‘fun’ wallpaper-adorned walls. This happier mode of life welcomed more knick knacks, kitschy items, florals & plumper furniture. The backyard also made its debut, but the time of wrap-around porches had come and gone.
1950s, a decade full of mid-century modern style: homes crept up and up, everywhere! Ranch homes were particularly popular. Most of all, the American economy was great, people were uber optimistic and there were, on average, 4 million babies born each year from 1950-1959 (that’s more than any other period in American history)! Homes now were designed with at least 2 bathrooms to accommodate. More homes also included:
- attached, 2-car garages
- sliding glass doors
- garbage disposals
- matching range & refrigerator
- dual sinks
- walk in closets
- walk in tile showers
- open concept living was popular, but included screens & decorative latices to divide space
The later decades:
1960s, the space age home: Just as described above, the 60s meshed colorful organic influenced design with the futuristic. Therefore, furniture designs included plastic and PVC piping. Batik fabrics & Indian-inspired saris were used to outfit more than the body; beds and curtains too! Modular shelving was used to divide spaces in rooms as well as to house items. Shag carpet made its cameo in the 60s. Posters that depicted pop culture imagery such as art by Andy Warhol and the iconic yellow smiley face, designed by Harvey Ross Ball in 1963, made prominent appearances. The 1960s embodied minimalist style. This style consists of:
- influences by Japanese design and architecture
- all elements & details in design were made to be multi-functional
- utilized geometric shapes in things such as light fixtures
- tasteful, bright color combinations
- natural fixtures
- clean & fine finishes
1970s, the earth tone decade: self-awareness was huge in the 70s. Asian religions were popular with people, but also influenced interiors. Environmentalism played a large role during this time; Earth Day was established in 1970. White wicker, vinyl & leather were popular materials in furniture design. These pieces are found adorned with colorful accents. Furthermore, popular ranch-style homes featured sunken living rooms, floating staircases & basement ‘rec’ rooms. Among other things, wood paneling, brick walls, ceiling beams & skylights were commonly seen in 1970s homes. Don’t forget about atriums & indoor gardens too! Photo murals on walls were not uncommon either. Gold was the hue of choice for appliances…I don’t think most people like their appliances that color today. Today, it’s safe to assume that colored sinks and toilets are not all the rage.
House flipping at its finest.
In conclusion, if you’re off to flip, hopefully this information either gives you a good laugh or a good idea of what you’re getting yourself into! Share your renovation or house flipping stories with us!
Images in first picture courtesy of Pinterest, LocalityOnline.com, thespruce.com, retrorenovation.com, TheGlamorousHousewife.com, modernkiddo.com. Otherwise, all images are screenshots of the Pinterest board ‘Through the Decades.’