1940’s Home Decor

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Decor in the 1940s was affected by the decade’s current events more than any American today may understand. World War II was an awful time for many, and it was felt even where citizens were safe from combat. The severity of the war impacted daily lives, and in turn, homes.
At the end of the war, when soldiers returned home, and families attempted to recreate some feeling of normality, traditional decor styles began to resurface. The styles seen during this period combine both the modern style that America had begun molding, and the ways of the past.

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The population of the country soared during this decade due to immigrants trying to escape the atrocities of the war, and the soldiers returning from war (and the subsequential baby boom). The increased need for housing was met with the mass production of simple homes, like Cape Cods. These homes were small, and so interiors were kept simple and uncluttered to maximize the space available.

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Where decor of the Twenties and Thirties was extravagant, I would consider the Forties to be sentimental. Rich reds, greens, and yellows were favored for the interior of the home, while natural tones were saved for the exterior. The geometric shapes of the previous decades were largely overlooked in favor of bright florals used in both upholstery and wallpapers. Gingham also became popular pattern for kitchens and living rooms, as well as apparel.
Rooster designs also became a big craze in this era and were a common theme in kitchen decor. Kitchens themselves were also adorned in bright colors, and cabinetry was often painted white or a light color.

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The hardwood floors favored in previous years began to be considered outdated. Carpeting, which had become more affordable, was preferred. During this post-war time, the focus of the home was placed on family. Seating in common areas was emphasized, so groups of people could comfortably spend time together. Colonial style furniture once again came into style and was used throughout the living and bedroom areas.

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Decorating in the Forties style can be difficult for some. Personally, the styles of this era are not my favorites, but there are certainly elements that can be used to give a vintage look to a modern home.

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White kitchen cabinetry contrasted by bright walls evokes the cheery feeling of the Forties. Accessorize with jadeite pieces (or look alikes), and colorful canisters. Opt for chrome fixtures for an extra touch.

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The Forties style works wonderfully for nurseries, where innocence and softness are ideal. Give it a cozy look with floral patterns and ruffled fabrics. The simple, uncluttered arrangement gives a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere. Since carpeting has gone by the wayside in favor of hardwood floors, opt for large rugs in solid colors or delicate patterns.

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Relax with friends and catch up in a sitting room or sunroom decorated in light florals and bright colors. Make sure to have plenty of seating available! The chandeliers dress up the cottage-style look and bring in a little glamour. No complaints here!
Happy Decorating!


Written by TGH Domestic Design Expert: Adrienne Breedlove. You can also find Adrienne on her blog.


  1. jmtokunaga says

    I love all the style of the 1944 movie “Laura,” including the interior design of Laura Hunt’s apartment. All the lampshades and the curtains are crazy with ruffles, but other than that, it’s a very livable traditional style (but very high end). Her country house is much more like the cozy family homes described here. The white and green kitchen shown here is gorgeous!

  2. says

    I love the simplicity of 1940s decor, where everything was a bit smaller and not so oversized or overstuffed. I’m a big fan of the show “Bomb Girls,” and the set designers did a great job recreating 1940s design. Lorna’s house and the girls’ rooming house are warm and cozy, and the hotel where Gladys lives has great style, too.

  3. says

    Love the kitchen and actually the other living spaces are a lot brighter than I originally thought, great help for up coming project thanks

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