Based on the advertising illustrations and magazine articles that I’ve seen from the period, starting around 1946 to about 1953, what we typically call 1940s interior design had eight general characteristics. Innocent Sentimental Sunny Sanitary Patriotic Traditional-colonial revival Hollywood glamour Streamline Deco Jazz age
Disclaimer up front: I don’t have a degree in this – I’m a passionate observer, who is still “putting all the pieces into place.” Recovering and rebuilding after World War II dramatically affected 1940s interior design and the size of 1940s homes And I’ve even seen references indicating that the government was concerned that if we didn’t deal with the housing (and jobs) situation quickly enough, America’s young men would become restless and political – in a bad way. I also swear I’ve read somewhere that there were prohibitions on building more than one indoor bathroom at some point… I need to find the source.
Thanks to Kohler for this 1949 image from their archives, which, with its soft hand-painted illustration gets at the warmth and sentimentality of the period. Sentimental 1940s interior design: When the war ended, the nation was immensely grateful to have their men and women all back home. One other thought is that we still were a nation with a lot of farmers and apartment dwellers – the spaces were small, money was tight, and as a result, interiors and their decorative appointments were simpler.
I’ll attribute this to carryover 1930s preferences and to the influence of Hollywood, but there may have been other factors — there often are, often related to technological innovation.
The more I explore the history of interior design – of all eras – the more convinced I become that: We are a traditional nation. Hollywood glamour 1940s decorating style: Think Nick and Nora and the Thin Man.
Remember women’s clothes from the 1940s – their hats and tailored suits and gloves and bags and hose, the whole very put-together thing?