The 1950s are often called the “Boom Days” in the UK and the U.S. Even considering the tragedy and loss many people endured during WWII, the ensuing economic and population growth propelled both continents to greater heights than ever. The décor and architecture, the decorating, and even the appliances of the 1950s reflected the sense of hope and confidence pervasive in society. The Middle Class grew by leaps and bounds, and an improved standard of living gave an entire generation of people a sense of accomplishment. Here are some of the sights you would have seen inside a 1950s home.
The décor of the 1950s home was far different from the eras preceding it. The jet airplane had made its first appearance during the war, and the eyes of developed countries turned away from their neighbors. For the first time, an entire civilization looked to the stars for inspiration. The enemy had been trounced, and the stars were next.
This proved itself out in 1950s décor. Asymmetrical style was pervasive, giving an alien look to normal wall hangings and furnishings. The wall clock replaced the mantle clock in many homes, and the starburst shape kept the imagination challenged with its rays pointing in all directions. Some families were lucky enough to have a starburst clock with the clock itself off-center in the display, resembling more of a meteor than a sun.
Colors used in the 1950s homes were varied, but brought in colors previously avoided in home décor. Turquoise, chartreuse, and lilac were used liberally, adding excitement to the atmosphere of the home.
Patterns were not longer muted, tone-on-tone damask or tulle patterns, but reflected scientific themes, such as galaxies and planets. The boomerang pattern made its appearance during this decade, and was used in wallpaper, curtains, and even upholstery fabric. For the home owners who were not as star-struck, fruit and flower patterns ruled the day, and were used broadly.
There was plenty of upholstered furniture still in use during the 1950s, but many of them had streamlined design in reference to the space age. Banana shaped loungers were common – the first lounge furniture foray into the realm of pit groups. While the “recliner” was not around at this time, loungers would reflect unusual profiles that included pivoting foot-stools.
The war efforts in the West provided plenty of manufacturing of materials used in the war. Chrome, vinyl, plastics, and even laminates had been developed for wartime use, and once the war was over, these materials migrated into the homes of civilians. Most people who grew up in the 1950s remember the vinyl covered chairs on chrome frames. Formica table tops had the boomerang pattern for decoration, but the chrome frame and legs were equally durable. You can still find these items in diners, to this day, either new or reproduced.
There was much more in the 1950s home that had been absent in previous decades. Blenders, coffeemakers, Formica countertops, and washers and dryers became standard equipment in homes of that era.
The space age themes and new materials of the 1950s inspired an entire generation of people, and continue to enrich the lives of nostalgia buffs today.