As far as interior decoration went, the 1950s were all about modernity. The War was over, rationing was a thing of the past and it was time to dispense with everything old-fashioned and embrace the new. The look was sleek and colourful with clean lines and a touch of whimsy, in a reaction to the plain, solid look of the 30s and 40s. Scientific progress had made plastics and synthetic fabrics available at affordable prices, and these were embraced enthusiastically by homeowners.
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Ball-and-stick scientific models of molecules inspired the "cocktail cherries" look, in which room accessories such as coat racks, side tables and magazine stands were fashioned of metal tubing with colourful plastic knobs. Cocktail cherries imparted a cheerful, humorous look to a room that provided strong contrast to the stiff, formal decor popular in previous decades.
Kitsch---defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "art, objects, or design considered to be excessively garish or sentimental, but appreciated in an ironic or knowing way"---was extremely popular in the 1950s. Ceramic figurines of all kinds abounded, including the ubiquitous stalking black panther for the top of the brand-new television set. Garishly coloured glassware was trendy and so were ornaments such as grape clusters made from glass balls. Textiles like curtains and table linen were printed with kitschy designs in vivid colours.
Wallpaper was fashionable in the 50s, and new advances in printing and manufacturing combined with new colours and patterns resulted in many trendy designs. A floral design---particularly in vertical stripes---or an all-over sketching-like print was a good choice. Black-and-white was much in vogue as well, with many rooms featuring three white walls with one black one (or vice versa) to showcase the black and white furnishings. Bright colours such as turquoise, cherry red, lemon yellow and mint green were popular as well.
The new "contemporary" furniture introduced in the 1950s featured clean, curved lines with a "leggy" look. Metal became a very popular material for decorating and the tubular "dinette sets" so associated with the era became all the rage. People had begun to entertain more frequently and their furnishings reflected this; occasional chairs were light enough to be easily moved, surfaces were sleek and devoid of dust-catching ornamentation and furniture legs were sleek and flared out slightly at the bottoms to give an airier look to the room.
Due to the increase in entertaining, coffee tables were used often in contemporary decorating. In a departure from the traditional rectangle, contemporary coffee tables were elliptical, kidney-shaped or in other "organic" forms. Table lamps with metallic tripod bases were fashionable, as were metallic starburst clocks or clocks with neon frames.
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