1940s Interior Home Design

1940s Kitchen Design

Public Domain Mark 1.0

Home design in the 1940s, especially in the kitchen, represented a rapid shift. Older styles and materials were quickly replaced. New ideas took hold, and the kitchen was transformed.

Because of World War II restrictions, it would not be until the late 1940s and into the 1950s that many of these new materials found their way into home design. Chiefly, the rationing of metal adversely affected the production of steel kitchen cabinets.

Home design styles in the 1940s straddled the 20th century. On the one hand, kitchens were still fairly small. Linoleum was still widely used as a floor covering. Colors often hovered in the range of pastels. Iconographic shapes like scallops, sweeps, and curves were common. Unfinished pine was a favored inexpensive wood often used for kitchen cabinets. These were touches that hearkened back to an earlier, more innocent age before the war.

On the other hand, the sleek styles that would characterize the Jet Age period of the late 1950s and 1960s, while still on the horizon, would begin to occasionally show up. Large tempered plate glass found its way into higher-end homes. Some of these curves and scallops began to straighten out. Lines and planes were common.

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    1940s Home Design: a Transitional Period

    1940s Kitchen Design with Large Windows
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    In this 1946 kitchen design, linoleum is the star since it is from a publication called Portfolio of Room Interiors, produced by Armstrong World Industries Inc. Three types of linoleum are combined to form this floor.

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    Curved Floorplan for 1940s Kitchen

    1940s Kitchen Design
    Public Domain Mark 1.0

    This uniquely designed kitchen works off of an oval shape to facilitate workflow. Sink, stove, and refrigerator are all within easy reach. Base cabinet open shelves help the cook locate and retrieve pans. Shades on the right side pull together to close off and hide part of the kitchen.

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    Blue 1940s Kitchen Full of Linoleum

    Blue 1940s Kitchen
    Public Domain Mark 1.0

    In this kitchen, linoleum is used not just for the flooring, but for the sink surround and countertops. Rarely is linoleum found on kitchen countertops, even in the 1940s. Yet the designer noted that linoleum here would be "clatterproof, easy to clean, and resistant to stain." Even the scalloped swags near the ceiling were cut from linoleum.

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    1940s Home With a Knotty Pine Bathroom

    1940s Bathroom Colonial Style
    Public Domain Mark 1.0

    This bathroom from 1946 has been done in a Colonial style with knotty pine, scallops, and Shaker-inspired fabrics. Knotty pine was often used in kitchens at the time, but was not often found as an element in bathrooms. The rectangle to the very left of the picture, right above the magazine rack, is a medicine cabinet.

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    Regency Moderne 1940s Bathroom

    1940s Bathroom Swanky
    Public Domain Mark 1.0

    This 1940s bathroom is the epitome of modern and sophisticated. It is a Hollywood Regency, or Regency Moderne, style made on the cheap with linoleum flooring and other inexpensive materials.

    Much of the furniture is made of furniture-grade plywood. Plywood as a design element is popular once again. In the late 1940s and into the 1950s, higher grade plywood was often used to make nightstands, beds, cabinets, and chairs. Edges would be rounded off with a router, sanded down, and lacquered to help smooth them down.

    The shower is enclosed in a glass cabinet and with a curtain at the door.

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    1940s Dining Room

    1940s Dining Room
    Public Domain Mark 1.0

    This 1940s dining room style is up for interpretation. The crenelated, appliqued gold pattern along the table cloth has a definite Grecian flavor. Yet the room designer calls this crenellation a "Chinese fret design." In any case, this dining room's purple-on-gold bold color scheme catches the eye and makes for lively conversation.

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    1940s Children's Bedroom with Nested Beds

    1940s Children's Bedroom
    Public Domain Mark 1.0

    The custom linoleum lets us know the bedroom belongs to none other than Tom, Dick, and Larry. At that time, it was possible to order customized linoleum flooring with special name plate inserts from the Armstrong factory.

    To save space in this children's bedroom, these three beds become one. In the morning, the middle bed slides under the tall bed, and the short bed slides under the other two beds. 

    Shelves behind the beds are staged proportionate to the height of each bed.

    A movable ladder helps the children access the upper cabinets.

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    1940s Home Foyer Design

    1940s Home Foyer Design
    Public Domain Mark 1.0

    In a period when books frequently lined the walls of homes, this 1940s home has a solid wall of books along the staircase. It's a classic look with bright, bold-statement splashes of red against blue that help catch visitors' attention the very moment they enter the home.