Vintage Style ~ the 1940s

My house was built in 1945.  I think that’s pretty cool.  Sometimes  when the President is on tv giving some address, I wonder if people once sat in this same room listening to the radio, hearing historic news  about the end of WWII.

Given the age of the house, and some weird  sense of nostalgia, I thought it would be cool to have some elements of  decor that reflected that time when it was new.  A few months ago Apartment Therapy featured this article “American Style Through the Decades: The Forties“.  I was pretty psyched.  Here I would find inspiration to create a more  vintage look (vs. the contemporary/Ikea look I have now… if you can  call that a style).

My first reaction was, “I hate all of it”.  Quel dommage eh?

The article goes on to list the  Key elements of Forties design:
• Linoleum!
• A strong, jewel-toned color palette
• Wall to wall carpet
• Tufted stools, chairs and sofas
• Abstract artwork
• Blond wood furniture
• Large scale floral, striped and plaid wallpapers
• Chintz draperies
• Colonial furniture
• Floral slipcovers
• Ruffled and scalloped edges
• Built-in furniture and banquettes
• Wood paneling
• Small print hooked rugs
• Knotty pine
• Bamboo furniture
• Pennsylvania Dutch/folkloric details
• Space saving kitchen amenities
• High contrast bathroom tile
• Glass block
• Chenille bath rugs

Its funny how many of these things are what people are ripping out,  painting over, and plain out gutting in current home renovation and  design.  Does anybody you know have linoleum, wood paneling, wall to  wall carpet, knotty pine cabinets, chintzy ruffled curtains, and  traditional heavy furniture?  Yeah, maybe your grandma.

So let’s try to find some redeeming qualities/ inspiration/ modern day interpretations of these 40s designs.

Ok, obviously the white couch is a current mainstay.  I like the seafoam  green wall, and the gold plates are fun and classy at the same time.   I’d add some funky throw pillows to make it more comfy casual, and a  patterned area rug.  Let’s remove the pass-through wood wall to the  kitchen, because let’s face it, in a current reno that would come out to make for a completely open kitchen.

Check it out, a seafoam green wall with clean white (bed).  It even has gold accents on the wall and a tufted, traditional headboard.

This one answers the 40s style a bit more with the symmetrical lamps on the  end tables, the tufting, and gold accents on the tables.  Nice modern  art featured as well.  Oddly enough, this has a hint of Moroccan flair too  just like the bedroom above.  But Morocco is another post for another  day.

Now let’s move to the kitchen.

White kitchen cabinets have definitely come back.  The AT article refers to  white being clean, even antiseptic, in an age when polio was a real  concern.  Diseases and their (subconscious) sociological impact on home  design aside, white kitchens are bright and allow color to really pop,  making accessories the star.  And who doesn’t want a clean, bright,  energetic kitchen.  This 40s kitchen has a built-in booth aka banquette.

This house tour featured on Design Sponge has my favorite seafoam green walls again, and a bright red banquette for an eat-in  breakfast nook, and similar cheerful yellow curtains.  It even has (gasp) linoleum floors.  And its still  cool.  Amazing.  I also love the phone on the wall and the Formica (or  similar) table.  They really embraced the vintage, and pulled it off.

If you peek on the 1940s countertop, it has something that looks a lot like this.

KitchenAid Classic Plus Stand Mixer - White

Women still go crazy for a nice mixer.  I splurged on one a while back, and I gotta admit, I appreciate it every time I use it.  Back then it was  state of the art, and women were actually expected to bake a lot, so the lady with one of these bad boys would have been the envy of the  neighborhood.  (p.s. I’m not any kind of historian, so this is just speculation based on my conceptions of women’s roles during this era based on movies I’ve seen).  For an actual history of the KitchenAid Mixer, go here.  I digress.


Apparently Ikea is selling red cabinets now, and some people think its a good  idea.  Ikea has a red sparkly countertop, but alas the Internet has  failed to provide it for me.  Its been hanging out at my Atlanta Ikea  for a while, so maybe some people are going for it.  This is a bit  extreme for my taste, but it definitely echoes the 1940s “kitchen of the future” idea.  The future is now!

I could do a rant about “vintage” and whatever that means these days… but I’ll save that for another day too.

Are you striving for any kind of vintage/ retro/ throwback look?  If so, how are you pulling it off?


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