top of page

Interior Design Through the Decades: 1940s

Interior Design Through the Decades: 1940s

Welcome to the 1940s!

The first half of the decade was defined by World War II, which meant that home design and décor took a backseat to more pressing concerns. However, once the war ended, a new design aesthetic emerged that would come to be known as American Traditional.

This style was characterized by floral fabrics, simple wood furniture in light and dark tones, and patterned wallpapers. Colors were usually bright and cheerful, as people were eager to put the war behind them and embrace the idea of a more optimistic future.

Let me show you some of the standout features of this cozy interior design style.

1940s American Traditional


One of the most iconic elements of American Traditional design is the use of wallpaper. Plaid, striped, floral, and paisley patterns were particularly popular, as they added a touch of whimsy and elegance to any room.

Traditional Wood Furniture

1940s homes had a genuine warmth to them, which was largely due to the use of wood furniture combined with the homey fabrics of this time. While today we often think of wood as a heavy and formal material, in the 1940s, it was used to create simple staple pieces. Chairs with slim legs, spindle , and subtle carved details were popular, as were wooden sideboards, coffee tables, and dinette sets in dark or blonde wood tones.

The classic built-ins from the 1900s craftsman-style homes also made a comeback in the 1940s as people looked for ways to add more storage and coziness to their homes. Wooden paneling on the lower half of walls was also a popular design feature during this time period.

Floral Fabrics

Fabrics in the 1940s were often patterned and busy, with florals, gingham plaid, and stripes being a particular favorite. Curtains, upholstery, tablecloths, and dish towels were all fair game when it came to adding a pop of color to a room.

It wasn't uncommon for bedspreads and curtains to match, as this was seen as a sign of good taste. Ruffled edges and lace details were also popular on fabrics, as they added a touch of refinement.

How to Bring the 1940s Into Your Home

If you'd love to add some of the 1940s American Traditional style to your home, here are a few simple tips.

First, consider incorporating wallpaper into your décor. Floral, paisley, and plaid patterns will help give your home that classic 1940s look.

You could also look for a wooden dinette set with some spindle-back chairs to use in your kitchen or breakfast nook.

Don't forget about fabrics!

Curtains, tablecloths, and dish towels are all great places to add a touch of 1940s American Traditional style to your home.

Or, you can get yourself a gorgeous floral patterned armchair to make a real statement in your living room. Houseplants were a common trend in the 1940s, so don't hesitate to livin' up your space with some hanging pothos or a fiddle leaf fig tree.

I hope this gives you some inspiration on how to add a touch of 1940s American Traditional style to your home.

Next, I'll cover the quirky pastels and unique contrasting floors of the 1950s!


Visit my interior design blog for more design tips and inspiration!

Want to be notified when a new blog is published? Sign up here!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page