The 1950s in the West were a stylish period with icons such as Audrey Hepburn, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. These celebrities and their movies such as Singin’ in the Rain and Roman Holiday have stood the test of time, and for good reason — the characteristics that they embody are classic and timeless.
We feel the same for Western 1950s interior design! From the colours, to the prints and the furniture that were used during the mid-century period, what’s not to like? Imagine: an Audrey Hepburn inspired kitchen, a James Dean inspired bedroom, and a Marilyn Monroe inspired living area!
There’s undoubtedly a lot we can learn from this decade. We’re sharing some key retro tropes that you can adapt for your space.
On Colours: Earthy
Colours had a big part to play back in the 1950s, playing an integral role in the personality of a space.
There were various colour palettes that were popular at the time. One of them is an earthy palette. Earthy colours were the preferred palette for nature-lovers, including shades of grey, brown and beige. To complement this palette, many people also incorporated plants into their home.
An earthy colour palette was usually chosen for a 1950s living room, for a fashionable and muted space. This works wonderfully for a space where you’re meant to relax.
Our designer’s styling tip: This is a great palette for the more conservative as well. For a modern twist to the 1950s living room, choose electronics that have woody textures for that rustic look and feel.
On Colours: Pastel
Neutral is not the only way to go when it comes to colouring your home for a mid-century look and feel.
Pastel colours were a popular palette, especially for kitchens and bathrooms. Pastel colours, such as light pink, light yellow, or light blue, did well to bring a soft, hospitable atmosphere to a space.
Our designer’s styling tip: To ensure balance in your space, you can still opt for pastel flooring, cabinets, tables and chairs as long as you accent them with darker accessories.
On Colours: Bold
When people think about mid-century interior design, bold colours such as red and black probably first come to their mind. Other bold colours used in the 1950s include orange, yellow, electric blue, black and white.
These colours undoubtedly made a statement and were utilised mostly in living rooms and kitchens. They made for bright and clean spaces with a big personality.
Our designer’s styling tip: For a softer and perhaps more modern take on bold mid-century decorating and design, include lots of plants and comfort items such as throws and cushions.
Often time, colours don’t work in isolation in a mid-century home. Regardless of what colour palette is chosen, they are usually coupled with prints to add character and charisma to a space in the 1950s. Prints that were popular during the time include flowers, fruits, polkadots, checks, stripes or stars.
Our designer’s style tip: Instil in your space a sense of homeliness and nostalgia by introducing textures with a local or East Asian flavour such as batik.
Decor is another important component of home improvement. Modern homes can be easily retro-fied by introducing a few staple pieces from the past. These include appliances such as rotary dial telephones, record players and toasters.
1950s kitchens in the West were also filled with pastel plastics, enamel-coated canisters, and colourful Melamine dishware and bowls.
Our designer’s styling tip: There are plenty of functional decor pieces that can bring some history and culture to your home. They can remind you of historical occurrences that resonate with you, or even your personal heritage during the day to day. You can find such pieces in local thrift shops or antique shops. From old ceramic kopitiam coffee cups to painted tingkats, the possibilities are endless!
Now, on to the big boys. Add a touch of vintage to your room with some mid-century design pieces.
Mid-century design furniture are function-focussed pieces. To illustrate, these include a comfortable couch; a closet with lots of storage space serving various sizes and shapes; a roomy coffee table.
Mid-century design furniture also typically sport sleek lines with both organic and geometric forms. Think gentle organic curves like the coffee table or the prints on the armchair pictured above.
We hope that you found this article about interior design in the mid-century or Western 1950s period useful. For more guidance on interior design and styling, do reach out to us via our social media pages or our consultation form here.