1930s Decorating Styles

Written by kelly fitzpatrick
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1930s Decorating Styles
Clean lines played an important role in many 1930s interiors. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

History and art have been intertwined since man's first drawings on cave walls. Current events invariably affect the development of artistic forms, and interior design is no exception. The 1930s were the root of several design styles both domestically and internationally, which have remained relevant and significant in home decorating today.

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Art Deco

The roaring '20s and Hollywood glamour were the inspiration behind 1930s art deco style. Glitzy glass, mirror and reflective surfaces are central to designs done in this style. Furniture pieces like dressers, side tables and sofas feature rounded fronts and sleek lines. Geometric patterns and wood furniture are also favourites when channelling an art deco style.


On the opposite end of the design spectrum from showy art deco is the arts-and-crafts style, which became popular from 1910 to 1925, but continued to be popular in the 1930s. The arts-and-crafts movement was not merely about style, it was a reaction against the Industrial Revolution's mass production and overly decorative Victorian style. It was a movement of craftsmen who focused on "Truth in Material," and pieces that were simple, featured exposed construction (exposed joints, for example) and were without ornamentation. Wood is the most common material used in arts-and-crafts style, and so, shades of warm brown are commonly seen here. Mission style was also a part of the American arts-and-crafts movement as was bungalow style.


Like Art Deco style, modern style embraces clean lines, but takes streamlining to its purest form. This style, which began in the 1930s, was popularised in large part by Scandinavian and German designers, and has been seen as a reaction to the political turmoil in Europe at the time. Modern style is minimalist and geometric, and features clean-looking polished surfaces and a neutral palette, which contributes to the unadorned and spare look.

Variations on Modern

In many ways, Modernism began a design revolution. It was the cleanest style the Western world had yet seen, and it spurred variations for decades. One of these is mid-century modern, which was a richer take on this clean style. Mid-century modern added in the '50s and '60s some of the colour and playfulness that had been stripped by designers during the '30s. Contemporary design also grew from the modern style. It, like mid-century modern, adds colour and low-profiles to the style. Graphic elements are also common in contemporary style.

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