Hardwood floors

The 1940s was a time when new materials came onto the interior home design scene. Although many of them wouldn’t be available until after World War II, lots of design elements were incorporated where they could be. Here are several ways to give your residential interiors a ‘40s look.

Install linoleum flooring

New linoleum flooring was popular in the 1940s because it was easy to clean and came in a range of colours and patterns. You could also use more than one pattern together to create unique designs.

This material would make a great addition to the flooring in your own kitchen or bathroom. You could also add a period table with metal table legs in the dining room for a centrepiece.

Add pine features

The 1940s saw a love of untreated knotted pine in bathrooms and kitchens. In modern kitchens, you can either use traditional pine or go for the more modern medium-density fibreboard (MDF) and have a pine-effect covering.

Bold and colourful retro 1940s style kitchen interior
1940s kitchen at Carpenter House. Credit: Holly Guerrio / Shutterstock.com

Opt for bold and contrasting colours

Catching the eye was a big feature in the ‘40s. This meant going with striking mixes including yellow with purple or red with blue.

Red, white, and blue were colours that went together often – and some people believe this was a patriotic influence.

These colours are available in furnishings, carpets, flooring, and curtains. Use these hues sparingly but prominently so that they make a big impact as soon as visitors come into the room.

Wallpaper is key

If you look at old photos of interiors from the 1940s, you will see that wallpaper plays an integral role in creating the look. Sweet and colourful, yet also simple, was the name of the design game here.

Although having one feature wall is a common trend today, if you want to have a 1940s theme, you need to use wallpaper on all of your home’s walls.

Use simple designs without excess

Because of the struggles in the 1940s, many people weren’t exactly affluent. This meant that, even with all of the bright colours, designs were often simple and lacking excess.

Movies from this time were a big influence, and this was represented in the decor. It is all about texture and contrast but nothing extravagant.

Lighting needs to be warm and moody. Up lights can be used to accentuate features while also taking the glare off central lighting.

Include art and pictures

One wall in the living room or hallway should have photos and paintings to make for a cosy feeling. You can use pictures of your family, of course – but there are also many examples of 1940s printed posters you could use.

If you can get hold of light fittings from the ‘40s, or reproductions of such light fittings, then use these to highlight pictures or paintings. You can have a lot of fun looking through charity shops and online auction sites as you search for period pieces.

There are many elements from the 1940s that you can incorporate into a modern home. Using little touches here and there can accentuate them and create a nice theme.

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