1940s Livingrooms

Four livingrooms, four different styles

The traditional designs of the 1920s and 30s eventually relinquished their dominance during the 1940s. The Art Deco , Moderne, and Industrial Design influences had finally gained a foothold in American interior design and nowhere is this more evident than in color schemes used in residential dwellings. In contrast with the multi-colored palettes of earlier decades, color usage became somewhat more simplified as fewer colors were used.

The following shows the same room using four different color schemes and styles from Better Homes & Gardens (April 1940) and B. Altman & Company.

Early American

Early American Livingroom

Early American style decor remained very popular, probably for its informal comfort as much as any other factor. And what colors would be more appropriate than this shaded red, white, and blue scheme?

The wallpaper is a pale blue and tan stripe with a white chair rail and steel blue below. The floor is linoleum in a plank design. A hooked rug ties the structure of the room together. The upholstered furniture is designed for hominess and comfort. Ruffled white curtains are topped with a blue and red valance. A large pine secretary and rush seated ladder back armchairs contribute their Colonial flair as does the brass candlestick lamp, and large gilt framed painting over the mantel. Additional accessories include the Staffordshire dogs, fruit prints, and converted oil lamps.

18th Century American

18th Century Colonial Livingroom

The next version is 18th Century American. This is the later Colonial period and was especially appealing to homeowners who wished a more formal room. The colors are a tried and true scheme of yellow walls, mahogany furniture, and dark green carpeting. A small oriental carpet in front of the camelback couch anchors the gate leg tea table which was very popular at the time. The mantel and trim work is painted ivory. The mantle piece is decorated with a variety of period appropriate accessories including a bulls-eye mirror, elegant brass candle sconces, and ginger jars. The green valance is curved and accentuated with finials; yellow and green floral drapes with white sheers flow to the floor. Upholstered pieces are covered in more formal fabrics of different but complementary designs.

American Victorian

American Victorian Livingroom

The room below is called 19th Century American Victorian, probably appropriate for a mish-mash of various 19th century styles combined in an eclectic way. The designer of this room considered the "fussiness" to be under control. The deep two-color wine-mahogany carpet is and sets the tone of the room. The pink walls are trimmed with a leafy green paper border to prevent the room from becoming "cloyingly sweet". Pink and green upholstery on the Duncan Phyfe sofa pink up on the various shades of pink and green throughout the room. Pink moiré draperies are trimmed in green over white sheers which are over a floral shades made from the same fabric as the sofa. Accessories that are clustered for period effect include prismed lamps, an ornate mantel clock, and a large gilt mirror over a mahogany table. The white tub chairs provide a rest for the eye.


1940s Modern Livingroom

The last version of this room is Modern. The entire room is a creamy old ivory envelope of various textures from the linoleum floor and matching area carpet to the interesting textured wallpaper. The wood furnishings are clean lined and simple. Floor to ceiling blue drapery panels with white sheers completely obscure the windows. Between the windows from the mantel top to the ceiling a mirror completely fills the wall. A spectacular sunburst clock hangs from a wide blue ribbon from the picture molding at the top of the wall. Punches of color occur throughout the room. Matched coral love seats face each other with an oval coffee table between them. A large dark blue poof lends additional seating if needed. A piano bench in front of the clean lined piano is topped with chartreuse upholstery.