Mid-Century Home Décor Trends March 31 2015
The pastel color palette may be the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about 1950's home décor trends, but contemporary influences such as space travel and car styles came into play as well. There wasn’t a single look in home décor through the 1950s there were several, and they spanned diverse trends such as atomic age design, modern Scandinavian influences, and Hawaiian inspirations (Tiki). The 1950s was also a time of extreme color schemes from all pink bathrooms to bold black and white kitchens.
Characteristic of 1950s design esthetic is clean, simple lines influenced by a modern movement started in Scandinavia and known as Mid-Century Modern. Space-age themes and atomic shapes were a big trend during the 1950’s as well, Formica countertops with atomic designs were the “it“ item.
Dens and living rooms were decked out in the fashionable Western look while TV cowboys Gene Autry and Roy Rogers rode across new TV screens in prominent western shows. Western style décor was also a common choice for boy’s bedrooms as well.
Pastels colors were all the rage; pink, turquoise, pale yellow, mint green, and light blue were the most prevalent color choices. Linoleum was the flooring material of choice in many kitchens and bathrooms due in part to the wide variety of patterns and color options Armstrong had introduced. Kitchens were quite colorful including the appliances. The most stylish color choices of the decade were Stratford Yellow, Cadet Blue, Turquoise, Woodstone Brown, Sherwood Green and Canary Yellow. Formica countertops were also quite prevalent with 1 in 3 new homes built using this material.
Primary 1950’s Design Trends
Pastel colors were huge in 1950s décor; kitchens and bathrooms were the two rooms most noted for the proliferation of the pastel color scheme. Kitchen tables and chairs came in pastel blue, pink and yellow often with a matching pastel checkerboard floor. Pink tiled bathrooms with tubs to match were accented with black, pale green or blue accessories. Many of these pastel decorated gems have survived in homes across the country today.
Another trend in 1950s-era decorating, especially in the kitchen was the bold contrast between colors. Common color schemes included black and white checkerboard floors, entirely black and white kitchens, or black, white and red used together. Beyond the home kitchen, his trend was also seen in bathrooms and diner style restaurants. Although not as common as black, white and red; bright yellow was also used in high contrast color schemes.
As the modern style Scandinavian furniture became the stylish choice, certain colors came with these predominantly wood furnishings: olive green, bone white, pale gray and sky blue. The combination of sky blue and olive green were often used together, for example, blue walls paired with olive green sofa cushions. The power of pink though could not be denied since even in earth tone color schemes light pink accents would show up in upholstery, curtains, and wall accents.
The Atomic era brought in an expanded color range that included bright shades, as well as pastels and earth tones. These new vibrant colors reflected the hopeful attitude that was looking to the future for inspiration. Textiles often featured four or five colors simultaneously, usually in the iconic Atomic boomerang shape. Polynesian and Hawaiian-inspired designs came into vogue as well featuring hand-drawn, geometric shapes in shades of orange, yellow or pale turquoise.
Fabrics came in bold designs featuring stars, stripes, checks and polka dots. Graphics inspired by space and science included planets, galaxies the ubiquitous Atomic boomerang, which was used for wallpaper, tablecloths, curtains and upholstery fabrics.
A tight-woven heavy cotton fabric called “bark cloth” became available in a range of contemporary designs such as fruit, flowers, and abstract designs. Bark cloth was used in every area of the home from l curtains to upholstery and tablecloths.
Furniture in the 50’s covered a vast array of styles from traditional comfortable furniture to modern wood pieces with clean lines, to space age organic shapes like boomerang-shaped coffee tables.
Vinyl and chrome table and chair sets with Formica tops were both fashionable and durable. Laminated plywood furniture bent into comfortable curved shapes was known now as “Eames” style was influenced by designer Charles Eames’ revolutionary designs. Home bars became a big trend as the emphasis became on entertaining at home. Homeowners had a lot more leisure time allowing for new types of picnic and outdoor furniture to be developed in modern, space-age fabrics.
Linoleum had been considered a dull, utilitarian flooring option until the 1950s when linoleum flooring was restyled by makers such as Armstrong, making it a colorful and dynamic option. It was now available in the vibrant colors and bold patterns that were found in paint colors and fabrics. It was advertised to be used in nearly every room in the house. Linoleum tiles placed in alternating colors patterns made the black-and-white and red-and-white checkered floors possible.
Despite the new interest in linoleum, hardwood continued to be a popular flooring material. Carpets were standard floor accents for ages, but wall-to-wall carpet was a new concept and became available in a broad range of colors and textures.