Friday, October 15, 2010

15 October 1956 “1930’s Decorating Class”

I thought it might be fun today to look at some 1930’s interior design images. As I have mentioned before, my 1956 homemaker would have been a young lady or teen in the 1930’s. And in my study of home economics, I would probably have seen many of these types of styles and interiors and furniture.
I have a few wonderful 1930’s interior design books as well as cookery books. I am hoping to increase this collection as I begin to look further into what would have made me, a 1950’s homemaker, esthetically and from early teen age training.(all images can be enlarged by clicking on them and those I borrowed from other sites have links by clicking the image, thank you.)
30spaintedfurnitureI think this illustration from one of my books shows the fashion for painted furniture. As one can tell, many of these pieces are actually older late Victorian or even Colonial inspired pieces (these colonial pieces began being reproduced in the 1930’s as well) and are enlivened and made modern with paint. I rather like the color tones of this era of reds, greens, yellows, soft blues and all grounded with some form of black. I think these pieces, as well, work very well in a 1950’s kitchen.
I most likely would have some pieces from my mothers own 1930’s kitchen that I would still use in my modern 1956 kitchen. Certainly the colors could and would harmonize.
ernestkaufman1 Even the lines of the modern chairs of the 1930’s show that the similar angles and lower position to the floor had begun in the 1930’s. These drawings by the 30’s furniture maker Ernst Kauffman demonstrate that. And the Eames work, as this famous chair This is Charles and Ray Eames, Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1956, Molded rosewood plywood, black leather upholstery, aluminum 33 x 33 x 33” (chair) 16 x 26 x 21” (ottoman) Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of La Vern and Betty DePree Van Kley. Photographer: Nick Merrick. Source: Museum of Arts & Design via Bloomberg News and these Herman Miller Eames chairshermanmillerchair exhibit similar lines.
The color palette, especially in baths, were much softer and more muted in the 1930’s.30sbath1This lovely frieze of wallpaper above the tiles from a 1930’s wallpaper book I have, are really beautiful. The design is more more enchanted almost fairy book in its organic movement. While a 1950’s paper would be more stylized and patterned as this 50’s bath shows.50sbath
The 1950’s has the ‘new’ plastic tile. It was an easy application a Do-it-yourselfer could manage for less effort and money than actual tile. In the 1930’s linoleum was still very popular. Here we see a bath with what looks like a papered top and a tiled lower wall.
30sbath2Yet, the lower wall was actually a product called lin-o-wall, also found in my 30’s wallpaper design book. Here are more examples of the 3-d style it came in.linowallI have to say, I am rather enamored of these looks. The stone and the brick, but especially the lower left images would look so good painted in a turn of the century home. And, what is lovely for today is linoleum is a very ‘green’ product in that it is made literally from wood/cork pulp mixed with linseed all and is very renewable. I wonder if any such things are being made currently?
Here are some fun wallpaper examples from the 1930’s.30swallpaper130swallpaper2I think some of these would be great in a traditional home, but some of the more modern patterns would be fun in a kitchen or bath. The sample on the right with the kitchen breakfast room is geometric and organic combined. I think the top paper on the right ad which looks like blue and white delft tiles would be so lovely in an all blue and white breakfast nook. White painted furniture and woodwork. Soft white sheer drapes with blue and white seat cushions. And little punches of yellow in some framed prints of daffodils or ladies in yellow dresses. It would be such a bright way to start your morning.
30sbedroom How adorable is this little bedroom? I love the mixture of both the very glamorous skirted dressing table and the stoic ladder back colonial chair. The wall paper is very traditional and yet look at the whimsy of the rug under the chair? The mixture of both old and ‘new’ is done white great affect here, I think. I can’t imagine even needing to change the dressing table for the 1950’s although you might use that wonderful little side chair as your dressing table chair and cover that and the table skirt in the same fabric. A room I certainly would enjoy greeting the day with, how about you?
I think I shall close with this video of a 1930’s fashion show (of course fashion and interiors always played off one another). It is quite fun and taken from the 1930’s movie “The Life of the Party”.
Well, that was just some fun interiors from the 1930’s. As my project begins to come upon the beginning of its third year, I am left wondering where to go next. And, I really think in understanding myself in 1950’s, as the decade wanes, is to understand myself in the 30’s and 40’s both politically, and through the design and food. So, I may do more ‘between the war’ posts, if that would be of interest to any of you.
Have a lovely day and Happy Homemaking.


  1. Aesthetically, I'm more attracted to the 30's more than any other period. There's just something about the lines that seem so modern, but old fashioned, at the same time that appeals to me.

    I think your life has changed significantly enough that even if you stopped "living" in a different year of the 50's each year that you would still continue to live as you have been. Hopefully that made sense because I don't know any other way to put it, heh. Perhaps not confining yourself to any one year in particular would give you the freedom to explore other eras as you see fit.

    I've learned so much from your blogs over the last 2 years and look foward to more!

  2. Gingerella-How kind of you to say. I am happy that you have learned as I have done. It is rather nice to realize that as I stumble my way through and begin to acquire skills I am rather proud of, others may do so with me. I suppose that is what community is all about.

  3. i have always been a lover of the deco/nouveau looks, both in fashion and decor. always such an elegant look. i love the fred astaire films of the same period, because they show such an "over the top" version of this look. as a girl, i always imagined myself in one of these places, ever the fashionable hostess....

  4. I love the first picture with the painted funiture. Such pretty soft colors. The Kitchen looks especially neat. The fashion show was fun to watch also, but that tinny music was awful. Did you notice the three old men near the end? Daddy Warbucks types. LOL
    Julie in WA

  5. Kelly-it would be wonderful, wouldn't it? But, don't discount the possibility of a close similarity. I know I always loved the 50's movies/Doris Day type hostess and now, when I do entertain, I find myself feeling that way. Rather grown up, I call it. Becuase, I recall wanting to be that way, hostess pajama's or silk organza apron, pearls, serving cocktails and smiling at my happy contented guests. To me, this being 'grown up' is the Prozac of the past.
    Julie-Don't you just! The painted furniture of this period is so wonderful. And while the main living area's of the home would be a bit more 'sophisticated' the kitchen of the 30's had much quaintness and painted furniture, almost the feel of a child's nursery.

  6. For the record even here in New Zealand they sell Linoleum and Marmoleum,they will certainly sell it in the U.S.and they make the period patterns as well.
    Gorgeous marble patterns etc and about 40 die for!Try any big carpet and tile place.

  7. starz-Oh, I know they still sell the floor linoleum, but I was referring to the Lin-O-Wall product in my 1930's decorating book. I was thinking what a lovely dado or wainscot it would make in the various 2-d options they had then. I think, even by the 1950's, this production had lessened or stopped. The new plastics were taking the place of linoleum and though many called their flooring linoleum (as they did their refrigerator their ice box) it was, in fact, vinyl. And plastic wall tiles for kitchen and bath were becoming the popular less expensive option.

  8. They do make the sort of 3-D wallpapers, but I highly doubt the material composition is anything like the Lin-O-Wall. Some of the stuff you can find at your local home improvement store is amazing!

    I've had too many bad experiences with modern linoleum to want to take a chance on it in my own home. If it's not put down properly it peels and cracks and if the wrong glue is used, within a year you can see the "lines" of the glue through the floor! It also gets dingy very quickly and is difficult to keep clean.

    I don't like ceramic tile either, especially in the summer. Down here with all the humidity it gets dangerously slick really fast and is just downright gross. Wood is the way to go IMO.

  9. I do enjoy the posts every once in a while about the 30's or 40's but I am MUCH more attracted to the 50's. There seem to be a lot more blogs dealing with the 40's than there are 50's so if it were up to me.... ;)

    Obviously this is your real life though and you should do what fulfills you. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to tell us of your adventures. Whatever you post... I will read.. :)

  10. Donna, have you thought of going to the beginning of the 1950s decade, or may be, the end of the 40s?

    I think it would be interesting, but 1930s were an interesting time, too.
    You know, there is a Dutch club called Interbellum, dedicated to the time between the two World Wars.

    Here is the link to their homepage:

    It's in Dutch, but if you click on FOTOALBUM, you'll be able to see the photos.

    Greetings from Holland.

  11. None to worry, I am NOT leaving the 1950's for the 1930's, I merely meant that sometimes, as I might have done, I would remember my youth in the 1930's. So, I thought in the coming year I could punctuate my posts with information from that time. I find the more I go deeper into the understanding of the 1950's woman the more I understand our own time better. And a woman in 1956 would not have just magically appeared there, but would have lived a life through the Depression and War years and that had to color their reaction and way of living in the boom of post war America. So, no worries, I am not going to be doing My Year 1935 or anything like that! I think I would be too selfish to give up old dishwasher (though I know I'd be fine without it,really)
    Thanks for that link, I shall check it out, though I don't know even a word of Dutch!

  12. Rachel-I have old wide pumkin pine wood floors now and that won't change, but in my kitchen when I redo it, it will either be linoleum or vintage vinyl, not sure witch. The amount of cleaning and use I have in my kitchen has left me wanting a more unified single form of flooring that takes easily to water and soap, as it gets mopped everyday. I would not want to subject a wood floor to that. My MIL has the most beautiful antique kitchen and even cooks on an old 1930's beautiful range and has a large old wood stove in there as well, with lovely wood floors. Yet, she does not cook like I do and in fact in the winters it sits idle, as she is in Florida, so it lasts. With the way I use my kitchen,wood floor would need re-varnishing once a year, I am sure. I have never lived with linoleum, but have read about how long it can last. There have been old houses with layers of it from the early 1900's. I have magazines from 19teens and they are awash with adverts for linoleum in some of the most amazing patterns mimicking persian rugs etc. All very interesting. I wonder if our North East climate is better on it than your warmer climate? It would be interesting to find out, that is for sure. My MIL even has wood floors in her bathrooms (again antique) down to old high flush toilets and clawfoot tubs, They look lovely with the beaded board wainscot/dado and rag rugs.

  13. I just wanted to let you know how much I like what you are doing to the site. It's so much easier to navigate without all the frames. I'm a fan of the simpler things in life. Just don't forget to add catagories to your side bar. I'm sure you already are working on that. It must be a very time consuming process to tranfer everything. You need to know how much we appreciate you and the sharing of the 50's with us.

  14. This comment was posted after I clicked on an article from the feed. Later when I went to the site, I noticed that even though it's much improved, it still has the frames and fusiness. I do appreciate all the work you are putting into it to make it easier for us to navigate.


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