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What the Average American Home Looked Like the Year You Were Born

What the Average American Home Looked Like the Year You Were Born

What the Average American Home Looked Like the Year You Were Born

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The invention of pictures is one of man’s greatest deeds. Not only do they offer a way to immortalize events, but they also help provide information about the past actions of those who came before us. 

Pictures offer a glimpse into the past; some show that American homes used to look far more different between the 1940s and 1950s than they do now. Keep reading to find out how they differ. 


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The far-reaching effects of WWI and II dominated the first few years of the 1940s. All that fighting meant decorative materials were unavailable, so interior decor barely saw progress. The 1940 living room would have had the classic decorations from the ’30s, including damask curtains.


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Despite the war, technological development from the 1930s still made its way into the civilian design world, with aerodynamic designs reflected in many furniture and appliances. 


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Nowadays, people can enjoy various forms of entertainment with TVs and other similar gadgets. Still, in the early 1940s, most of these gadgets did not exist except the television, which was only accessible to the upper class as it was very expensive. The average American family had entertainment through radios, which were quite common. 

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As peace started to return to the world, the modern design movement became commonplace in American households. More decorative materials started turning up; however, it did not start thriving in the real sense of the word until after the war fizzled out. 



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If you were born in 1944, you would have been exposed to Art Deco and Art Nouveau, two prevalent themes in interior decoration that reigned in the first half of the 1940s. Wall hangings reflected geometry, and organicism was evident in furniture like bed frames and bookshelves. 


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Those born this year would have had access to smaller kitchen spaces than we have today; however, they enjoyed modern appliances. 


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The floral theme is one recurring theme in homes from the second half of the 40s. It was used very often, especially in their upholstery. They would eventually give way to more sophisticated design, but that was not the last the American people saw it. 

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Despite being battle-torn, the 1940s marked a transition in American home decor. As the decade ended, the TV started making more appearances in home decor, even becoming the center of it. Those TVs looked very different from the slim, high-tech ones we have today, sometimes getting built into the shelves, which made for aesthetic decor. 


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When WWII ended, borders opened, allowing travel and trade between countries. It also revived the use of chinoiserie, a 19th-century fad that returned to popularity in the 1930s and remained famous well into the 1940s. 


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The decade saw patterned wallpaper rise in popularity, replacing traditional floral motifs. Bedrooms were designed using them, and people tried all sorts of styles, including abstract ones. 


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If you entered the world in 1950, chances are you would have met this TV, even if your family was not extremely wealthy. TVs had become more prevalent in American households by this time but had rural-style upholstery.

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One piece of furniture commonplace in the American home in 1951 was The Butterfly chair, aka the Hardoy chair or the BKF chair. It originated in Argentina, created in 1938, but it became a resounding success in the USA in the 1940s after Artek-Pascoe and Knoll manufactured their versions of it.

Immediately, the design hit the markets, and people snapped it up, buying as much as five million within the following years. 


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Flower-themed decor and tropical motifs were quite rampant in the 1950s. They were reflected not just in the interior decor of American homes but also in the fashion people loved at the time. One famous one was the fringed armchair, a relic from the 1930s and 1940s.



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In the early 1950s, tiled fireplaces became popular as people gravitated towards Art Deco and wallpapers, especially those with geometric patterns. 


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The 1950s saw the rise of open floor plans, and people loved them so much that they became a signature of mid-century modern homes, as evident in pictures from that period. 


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Another common decor from the 1950s is the black-and-white checkered linoleum floor. Some paired it with country details, adding Shaker-style chairs and painted porcelain jars to spice things up further.

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