Decorator tricks for a 1940's home

Written by anne cagle
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Decorator tricks for a 1940's home
You can revive the style of the 1940s with easy tricks. (art deco clock image by hazel proudlove from

The 1940s were an exciting design period that ranged from the rationing years of World War II to the post-war beginnings of prosperity. You can create these looks easily in a recreation of a comfortable and fashionable 1940-style home with either modern or vintage materials found online or at thrift stores.

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Furniture from the late 1920s to the early 1940s was in a style called Art Deco. The furniture has the characterisation of bold colours, geometric shapes, smoothed lines and dark woods like mahogany. The style initially used expensive materials like silver and ivory often with floral designs, but this was brought into mass-production with chrome, plastic and industrial materials like Formica. Living room furniture was usually upholstered and designed in blue, green and beige colours.


The Formica company started in 1913 and produced electrical insulators and gears for cars. Formica is laminated material made from kraft paper, resin and melamine. The Formica company gradually expanded into the home decor sector. These new materials, however, did not come into homes until the later 1940s after World War II. Use wood materials for countertops and kitchen furniture to create the austere style of war rationing. For post-war design, use Formica laminated countertops in bright colours like yellow, blue, pink red and green. Look for Formica kitchen tables in the same colours and linoleum chairs to complement the tables.


Floors in a 1940s house were either hardwood, tile or linoleum. The linoleum often was styled in checked patterns. Be careful not to use authentic 1940s linoleum because this flooring often contained asbestos. If you have authentic 1940s linoleum, consider having it removed by professionals who have worked with this material's problem.


Use wallpaper with muted colours such as pinks, greens, beige or blues with a grey hue. Wallpapers often had textures with pink or green shades. Floral designs were popular and were frequently combined with intertwined ribbons. Daisies and rosebuds, paired with background patterns of lines or dots, were used in wallpaper designs. Fruit or vegetable prints are appropriate wallpaper designs for the kitchen. If you don't want to go to the trouble of hanging wallpaper, simply using paint in greens, beige or blue, or experiment with stencils to give your own style to 1940s decor


Use curtains in blue or bright red colours. Buy or make curtains with ruffled edges. Use criss-crossing on curtains with voile or ninon, a synthetic and silk-like fabric. Pink or lavender is good for bedrooms, and pale greens or blues work well in bathrooms. Choose floral prints for living room areas and kitchens. Plain cotton curtains give an authentic wartime style, especially if these are recycled from other materials like tablecloths or flour sacks.


The immediate post-World War home in the 1940s was still accustomed to war rationing and thrift. People repaired and "made-do" with what they readily had in the house. Crocheted doilies, quilts or tea cosies made from old garments, and knitted decorations are all at place in recreating the 1940s home.

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