1940s Style Interior Design

Written by stephanie lee
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1940s Style Interior Design
1940s interior design represented the American people's response to political and economic circumstances. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Interior design during the 1940s could be categorised in three parts. The first being during World War II, the second being post-war and the third being the introduction of the television set. All played a vital role in the home's decor and expressed feelings of fear, hope and Hollywood's glitz and glamour, respectively.

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During the first half of the 1940s, American citizens were preoccupied with World War II and expressed concern for the military troops. Supplies and materials were needed to fuel the war and, as such, there became a shortage of those materials. Home building decreased during this time, but the homes that were built are smaller in comparison to current living standards. Post-war, the focus transitioned from fear and dread to optimism for the future. The economic and political state of the U.S. throughout the 1940s is apparent in the home's decor.


Many Americans struggled financially and emotionally during this period, and a display of material affluence was not in the forefront. For this reason, the home's interior design tended to be simplistic in nature. Furniture pieces were typically made from dark wood and closely resembled those that were produced in the 1930s because manufacturers had placed new designs on hold in an effort to support the war. In addition, the television set was not made available until 1949, so the concept of glamorous living was very different prior to 1949. With the onset of new technology and access into Hollywood's exclusive lifestyle, styles such as Art Deco began to emerge and became a favourite design in the home.

Floral Designs

The homes' decor during the later part of the 1940s utilised floral elements which may be found on linens, floral arrangements throughout the home or on wallpaper. This added a touch of sentiment to the design as it represented gratitude and hope. Favourite colours for the floral design included pastel shades in pink, violet, yellow and blue. The floral element could also be transferred to other parts of the home, such as in window coverings. Many window coverings, especially in the kitchen, were made with either a floral or light-coloured fabric and flaunted decorative ruffles along the edges.


Aside from floral designs, bold patriotic colours were also evident in many homes during the 1940s. Red, white and blue colour combinations, as well as other solid primary colours, were seen on 1940s home advertisements. White kitchen cabinets also became common during this time as manufacturers were moving away from dark wood, which were of European influences.

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