Once World War II was over, Americans were ready for a fresh start. This upbeat attitude carried through to interior design of the 1950s and 1960s, which introduced a new modernism that still influences decor and furnishings today. New technology was introduced, and with it, a new way of living for the American public.
Colours and Patterns
Decor of the 1950s and '60s included a variety of colours. Pink combined with chrome, white, mint green or turquoise became all the rage in the '50s, as did vivid orange and red. By the '60s colours became earthier with harvest yellows, oranges and browns, while sun yellow provided a brighter alternative. Fabrics featured bold, geometric patterns of polka dots, stripes and checks. Even solid-coloured fabrics had richly woven textures.
Walls, Windows and Floors
Geometric-patterned wall paper and knotty wood panelling often covered the walls in 1950s and '60s rooms. Trendy rooms, especially kitchens, also had wallpaper on the ceiling. Cafe curtains hung on windows, providing some privacy while still letting in light. Floors were covered with carpet, shag rugs, sheepskin rugs or linoleum.
The kitchen introduced mid-century design in many ways. A more relaxed lifestyle meant eat-in kitchens and breakfast nooks became very popular, rather than using a more formal dining room for every meal. Steel cabinets, Formica counters, chrome accents and copper vent hoods were all the rage for an up-to-date kitchen of the 1950s and '60s. A folding or swing door concealed the room from entertaining areas.
Most modern furniture is fashioned after the clean, symmetrical styles of the 1950s and '60s. Forms were simple with soft curves or visually expanding horizontal lines. Wood was not painted or glossy, but had natural finishes that exposed the grain. Sofas and lounge chairs had low backs and tailored cushions. Dining tables in the '50s had Formica tops with chrome legs, and tables with a centre pedestal were common in the '60s.
Where to Find It
You do not have to look very long to find furnishings from the mid-20th century. Step into any antique store, resale shop, yard sale, or even your parents' attic, and you can find anything from furniture to a clock to dishes that will fit perfectly into your retro room. Furniture and accessories with a modern flair can be found at many retailers.