The 1950’s was a decade that brought massive changes into the homes of Americans. The post-World War II era was a prosperous time for most middle-class families. They experienced an evolution in everyday life, replacing their apartments and their lifestyles in the city for a cozy home in the suburbs.
Dynamic and vibrant designs started to appear, influenced by science, space exploration, and innovations in technology. The colors, furnishings, and designs were modern and futuristic combined with the classic All-American appeal.
The architectural characteristics of homes also changed in the 1950s. Houses were smaller than in the pre-War period. Open-plan living was introduced, and the fitted kitchen was part of every household, making the housewife’s work a lot easier. Popular color trends for the interior design of contemporary-style homes of the 1950s were pastels, modern and Scandinavian color schemes.
Pastel colors tended to be seen in bathrooms (sinks, bathtubs, toilets) and kitchens (cabinets, floors, tables, and chairs). Dominant colors were pink, turquoise, mint green, light yellow and blue, decorated with dark accessories.
Modern colors tended to create a contrast between colors and included electric blue, vibrant yellow, red, black, orange and white, and were most notable in living rooms and kitchens. The Scandinavian palette was influenced heavily by nature, the most popular being the natural tones of brown, cream, gray and green, contributing to a muted living room theme.
The furniture in the 1950s varied from comfortable traditional to minimalist Scandinavian-inspired furniture with clean lines. There was also furniture inspired by the space age, such as a boomerang-shaped coffee table. Desirable and trendy pieces of furniture were chrome and vinyl chairs paired with chrome-legged tables, low-profile sofas, and chairs, also laminated plywood furniture with clean lines.
The revolutionary designer Charles Eames, produced a range of comfortable curved furniture, today known as “Eames” style, that was also very popular in American homes. Home bars were of great significance, as the focus in that period was more on entertaining. Outdoor furniture, grills, and all the accessories to go with it were essentials as well.
In the 1950s, linoleum continued to be a utilitarian flooring product but now it was revamped by manufacturers like Armstrong to be more vibrant and in trendy colors. Almost every room in the house had one. The most popular were the black-and-white and red-and-white checkered floors. The introduction of installed wall-to-wall carpeting in different textures and colors was also very popular. Hardwood floors were also very common.
The drapery, upholstery, tablecloths, and wallpapers were decorated with fruits, flowers, and abstract designs, as well patterns inspired by far away galaxies, science and space travel. For the first time, household accessories were made of plastic. Lamps were no longer used for practical purposes, but instead became decor. Topped with fiberglass parchment or fabric shades, they were produced in dynamic shapes, such as cats, poodles, and gazelles, or geometric and abstract atomic forms.
A characteristic element of the 1950s kitchen was the gigantic fridge in a bright color. Other features included bread bins, colorful Melmac tableware and bowls, and Tupperware storage containers.
With the new technology, the kitchen was modernized with chrome and stainless steel mixers, blenders and coffee makers. People who could afford them installed new shiny refrigerators, double ovens and even washer and dryers. A television and turntable were part of nearly every modern living room in America.
Contemporary homes from the 1950s were all about comfort and leisure. People spent more time in their house, relaxing and enjoying recreation, and as a result, the interior design and decor became fun and vibrant. Entertainment was crucial and dinner parties became regular events. Room and furniture designs, decorations and accessories, were innovative for their time.
The ’50s design trends fell out of favor over time, but recently are experiencing a revival. 1950s home decor is considered a traditional style that is still popular in the modern market, only with new combinations and materials.