Home painting interior colours of the 1930s

Written by cynthia smith
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Home painting interior colours of the 1930s
The use of colours and patterns enlivened Depression era homes in the 1930s. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

In 1932 Good Housekeeping Magazine ran an article taken from a book written by Helen Koues, then Director of the Good Housekeeping Studio of Furnishing and Decorations, entitled "How to Beautify Your Home." The article states that "no colour scheme can be really successful that does not use three or more colours." Explore a few colour schemes used in a fashionable 1930s home.

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Decor options for 1930s era master bedrooms very often featured cream and ivory colours for wall paint. Furnishings in walnut matched the grey-blue, violet and rose colours in rugs, curtains and accessories. At other times, while still using the cream and ivory wall colours, furnishings were painted and upholstered in two shades: teal and light teal is one example. A splash of bright yellow complemented the teal. Still another example chose light beige walls and white ceiling colours to correspond with the dark, jewel-tones of teal, ruby, green and purple used elsewhere in the room.

Living room

The family's leisure gathering area was the living room. The warm colours of oriental rugs dominated floor coverings, and the colours in these rugs echoed throughout the room. A pastel peach living room with dark brown wood flooring was covered with a rug containing pastel peach, green and blue colours. Accent colours of gold and dark sage-green are used throughout the room. Ivory walls and a rug with darker reds and browns used yellow-gold and jade green accent colours to give the room interest. Still another applied apple green paint to the walls while employing softened shades of dull green and apricot, dark wood furnishings and accent colours of deep and light yellow.


The bath had pastel-coloured or white porcelain fixtures while floors or the bottom portion of the walls or both sported tile. If the decorator did not use a solid colour tile for flooring, the remaining colours were plainer. One example shows taupe walls along with the patterned floor tile. Accessories picked up the colours in the tile -- white, grey, black and sunflower yellow -- while ceiling and shelf areas were painted a pale, orange-pink colour to correspond with the pale pink sink, toilet and bath.

Yellow walls along with pale yellow fixtures, blue tiles and red painted trim, or muted yellow walls with deep green tiles and pink fixtures were two other bathroom colour schemes used in the 1930s.


The busiest room of the house called for some of the most enticing colours. One 1930s kitchen started with tan, white and black colours. Cadet blue, a few shades lighter than the blue in the linoleum floor pattern, was added for curtains along with mustard yellow cabinets and red accents. It was not surprising to spot art deco designs painted on cabinets and other accent pieces of the time. Pale blue and cream painted kitchen woodwork along with peach as an accent was one kitchen scheme. Pale yellow walls, with flooring of yellow, black, blue and golden-brown linoleum, used two shades of blue and white as accent colours.

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