Rebuilding and Redesigning in the 1940s

In 1939, World War II began, and because all resources were going towards the war efforts, interior design was a no-nonsense, practical, and functional endeavor. This began the American traditional style, with basic colors and a simple floral design. Wallpaper was used to brightly decorate the walls, furniture tended to be wooden with floral fabrics, and gingham was introduced as a trend in kitchens. Linoleum floors also became very popular for its price, easy cleanup, and the fun patterns it came in for kitchens.

The first half of the decade was feeling the effects of the ongoing war, so a lot of new design was halted during those years. Women went from the home to working in the factories to help compensate for the men away at war and to help their family income. Since the resources were being redirected towards the war efforts, the 30s decor held on for a little while longer. When the war ended in 1945, a shift happened not only in the culture of the country, but in design as well. The men came home and many of the women went from working in the factories back to being homemakers.


Families were being reunited and created, so home building ramped up again. Companies such as Sears and Gordon Van Tine manufactured Cape Cod, Colonial, and Ranch style “kit homes” to make home buying and building more accessible and possible for middle and lower class families. If you come across a neighborhood where all of the homes are similarly built Cape Cods, you’ve likely stepped on a street that developed during this era!

A new higher-end home being built in the 1940s would likely have large tempered plate glass windows in the living room. Floorplans tended to have an open flow and indoor/outdoor living spaces were becoming a hit. Wall-to-wall carpet was also very popular, with abstract artwork on the walls, floral slipcovers over comfy couches, and tufted stools and chairs as accents.

A lot of beautiful design trends that made their debut in the 1940s are still going strong today. Does your home have any of these elements? If not, no worries! We’ve create an awesome moodboard with all the pieces to pick from to add a little (or a lot!) of the 1940s to your home.

1940s Living Room Mood Board

We are supported by our audience – when you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. We only recommend products we believe in and it never affects your price.

1940s Living Room Mood Board
1940s Living Room Mood Board
Jessie Ellis

Jessie Ellis

Wife, friend and dog mom with 18+ years of education and 12+ years as a commercial design professional. Always inquisitive, creative and empathetic; trying to live each day with intention.

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Leave a Reply

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments