Interior Design by Decade

McArthur Homes

Interior design trends continue to evolve with societal shifts and technological changes. There are always new trends and fads emerging, and classic styles pervading. When you look back through time, each decade has a different look and distinct characteristics. Here is a glimpse into interior design trends through the decades!

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Open living room in a 1901 homeDue to the anti-industrial attitude of the 1900s, homes were filled with furniture and fabrics that had been handmade, giving spaces a crafty feel. But all of that craftsmanship resulted in unique pieces that drew from many different sources of inspiration. Without mass production and modern technology, homeowners often made home decorations themselves. As a result, natural materials and simple designs guided interior design in the 1900s. For example, paint colors were often made from raw pigments found in nature—wheat and earthy tones.  

Wood was not only a structural element in a home, but a decorative one. Ceilings in many homes were built with exposed beams and wood trim was common. Homes also had a lot of built-in storage, including cupboards and bookshelves. Because of the lack of electricity, windows were often quite large with light and airy curtains, allowing lots of natural light into each room.

 

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Ornate sitting room in a 1910 home

Interior design was heavily influenced by Art Nouveau in the 1910s. While it was an international style of art from 1890 to 1910, its principles of ornamentation, organic lines, and free movement were often seen in home decor. Furniture and cabinetry was flourished with ornate details and textiles highlighted floral patterns. Bedrooms and living rooms during the 1910s would have been heavily adorned, especially in homes of the wealthy.

Most homes in the 1910s had walls decorated with beadboard, wallpaper, or wood trim, while the floors were often tile or hardwood. Rich and deep colors were very common would have been painted on the walls, included in wallpaper, or incorporated in textiles.

 

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Art Deco living room in the 1920s

Art Deco was the next trend in interior design. Think The Great Gatsby. Its geometric forms and glamorous materials replaced the organic nature of previous decades. Circles and other geometric shapes were common shapes for household items—mirrors, light fixtures, other decorations. Shiny metals and industrial materials were often part of the decor around the house.

Walls would have been painted a single color, but a room’s entire color scheme would have featured several bold colors to create a dynamic look. And to add to the design, patterned floors with a large, geometric rug were also common. Additionally, furniture was often purchased as single pieces and boasted strong, streamlined shapes.

The end of the 1920s was influenced by Bauhaus. The glamour of Art Deco faded away as Bauhaus principles demanded the balance of form and function. Primary colors became common accent colors.

 

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1930s home interior

The Great Depression impacted interior design trends in the 1930s as people streamlined their homes. Home interiors featured even more industrial materials like concrete, glass, and steel. Without as much furniture and decoration, rooms felt more open and spacious. Additionally, homes were stripped of their orientation, drawing attention to the clean lines and rectilinear forms in a space.

Homes in this time period were painted with muted colors, and walls often left unadorned, reflecting the hardship of this decade. If a family could afford art pieces for their home, the art was often light and happy to help boost morale. Living rooms often had a few pieces of mismatched furniture and patterned rugs.

 

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Living room in the 1940s with pleated curtains

The 40s saw a burst of creativity and design boasted color and organic forms. The clean lines of the 30s transformed into dynamic curves. It was common to see rooms completely covered with wallpaper and brightly decorated. Wooden furniture and floral fabrics made their return. And homes gained a little more ornamentation; floral fabrics were seen throughout the house, and gingham was a popular print in the kitchen.

The modernist movement, which focused on the new machine age, influenced home decor in the 40s. As a result, function and form found common ground. Linoleum floors were often put into kitchens, a sensible and stylish choice.

 

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1950s kitchen with blue cabinets

The 50s continued the use of color, although pastels became the popular choices! Fabrics were bright and featured bold designs from fruit to polka dots. Interior designers focused even more on function than they did in the 40s. Linoleum floors with fresh designs were often used as flooring, although some homes stuck to hardwood floors and wall-to-wall carpet was introduced. Additionally, appliances were often coated in chrome and had dynamic shapes.

Scandinavian furniture, which was affordable, streamlined, and durable, became a popular staple. It was comfortable, had clean lines, and was light-colored to match just about any room in the house. Plus, electric appliances began to make a regular appearance in the kitchen.

 

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60s home interior with orange walls and carpeting

Bright colors were introduced in the 60s, along with new shapes and designs. Neon colors, bold prints, and texture fabrics were common design elements of home interiors. Couches and chairs were often covered with wild fabrics (influences of the hippie movement). 60s homes also had shag carpeting and wood-paneled walls to create a cozy space. Lamps were also a huge part of defining any space; lamps in the 60s had interesting shapes, and paper lampshades were colorful.

Influenced by the space race, furniture and decorations in 60s homes looked like they came straight from the future. Home builders also integrated technology and used new materials in home construction.

 

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1970s living room with curved stripes on the wallColor continued to be a large part of interior design in the 1970s as self-expression flourished. Mustard yellow was a favorite, but it was often combined with other bright colors to create a unique palette. Crafts and DIY projects were commonly seen throughout the 70s house to reflect the individuality of the time period.

Nature replaced the technology influences from the 60s, as society became more socially conscious. As a result, design relied on organic lines, colors, and forms. Many homes had large windows or skylights to bring in natural light. And interior designers also began to think more about self-sufficient designs and creating an environmentally-friendly space.

 

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Living room with pastel colors in the 1980sTriangles were a popular shape in the 1980s, and pastel colors were extremely popular. Pastels offered a softer color palette than the 70s. Floral patterns were popular, especially for drapes and bedding. Chintz often decorated homes in the 80s, along with floor-sweeping window drapes.

Overall, interior design trends of this time period were often a conglomeration of previous decades. Interior design in the 80s reflected opulence, ornamentation, and over-indulgence. But unique to the 80s was the concept of an open kitchen. This layout was designed for family living and helped create a more open dining area and living room.

 

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1990s kitchen with orange pine cabinetsDuring the 90s, interior design focused on creating a comfortable space. Homes had neutral colors and featured natural wood. Natural wood cabinets were extremely popular in kitchens. If a kitchen didn’t have natural wood cabinets, it probably had white cabinets. Walls in some rooms were covered in a patterned wallpaper to add some color and texture, but it wasn’t uncommon to see a room that was just beige and white.

Furniture and decor was somewhat minimal, especially compared to the 80s. Wall-to-wall carpet helped some homes feel more cozy. And long drapes continued to be quite popular.

 

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Living room in the 2000s with a TV over the fireplace and large windowsInterior design in the 2000s was extremely environmentally-friendly. Greens became more stylish as a wall color or accent color. Homeowners sought after materials that were better for the environment, like recycled materials, and environmentally-friendly appliances. Some homeowners went as far as to bring the outdoors inside by building sunrooms to let in a lot of natural sunlight.

Overall, the layout of homes in the 2000s was more relaxed than in previous decades. Open floor plans allowed interior designers and homeowners to choose what they wanted a space to become. For example, it was common to have an “office” area with a computer in the heart of the home instead of in a separate room.

 

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2010 living room with white couches and bookshelvesBecause of the global marketplace that exists today, anyone can be an interior designer. Cookie-cutter designs just don’t cut it. Home owners look for something unique to make their house stand out. Designs today feature handmade craftsmanship and showcase the DIY attitude. And you will find eclectic decor that makes a home feel authentic and genuine.

While there is still room for accents of color and sections of prints, homes are typically painted with more neutral colors like grays and tans to create a clean look and a cozy atmosphere. Homes continue to be built with open layouts to accommodate families.

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