Advances in materials and production after WWII changed how and what our furnishings were made of. We went from enameled table tops to Formica, from lace curtains to barkcloth. The character of the Mid-century home became unmistakeable as the new modern designs had a look all their own. These often-kitschy trends may have been imitated, but you had to be there the first time to see them in all their glory! Whether you loved these trends or found them tacky, we hope you’ll enjoy this trip back through the rooms of the past.

Photo: army.arch

1. Shag Carpets

There was a time, not so long ago, when a shag rug was the height of style and home fashion. The long fibers looked luxurious and beautifully framed clean-lined furniture. Of course, you may have other memories of shag carpet involving gum sticking in the long strands or perhaps the muted earth tones shag rugs so often came in. Whether you loved or loathed this trend, there is nothing more iconic of the late 1960s and 70s than shag carpets!

2. Bright Linoleum Flooring

These bright and imaginative patterns gave warmth to hard-surface flooring. The expansive number of designs could be used for any room in the house and were especially popular in kitchens. Borders, medallions, literal depictions, speckles, starbursts: there seemed no end to the number of choices. Today, we favor checkered or solid linoleum, but back then the sky was the limit!

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3. Harvest Gold Kitchens

This sunny yellow color had great intentions. Unfortunately, in dark settings this color tended to read as murky and tan. Many homeowners were lured by the thought of a bright, cheery kitchen only to find the color wasn’t very cheering and the style was out in a just a few years. Still, there are some who loved this trend or still have their golden appliances!

Photo:Janice Waltzer

4. Colorful Block-Print Wallpaper

Wallpaper printed in stages produces the distinctive print patterns and bright colors that were used throughout the 1950s and 60s in many homes. There were bold styles created for literally every room in the house. Some of you may remember the cowboy patterns (as seen below) or one of the many floral and fruit designs in your mom’s kitchen!

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5. Burlap Pattern Lampshades

This trend gives a nod to the tiki and Asian styles of decor so popular in Mid-century America. The natural pattern seen here is reproduced in fiberglass shades. A similar look was also made by producing synthetic fibers woven into a burlap-like cloth and then affixed to the drum or swag shades. This distinctive trend carried into the 70s and has had a recent revival.

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6. Pink Bathrooms

Many varied bathroom fixture colors became available in the 1920s. However, it wasn’t until after WWII that brightly-colored bathrooms became more popular. By the mid 1960s, color choices had become more subdued and the pink bathroom trend began to fade. Today, many homeowners want to replace these artifacts with modern white fixtures. We think they add vintage style to a home even if they are a little on the obnoxious side…

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7. Faux Wood Everything

This trend continues today, but no one did it better than the atomic-era designers! The kitschy look of faux wood panels, flooring, wallpaper, furniture, and much more lends a particular flavor to the homes of yesteryear. The advances in composite materials and digital printing mean that today’s faux wood might actually fool the eye. However, the obviously fake grain and unnatural colors of faux wood of the past leaves us with oddly warm memories.

We wouldn’t have it any other way!

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8. Avocado Green

Who can forget avocado green?! This muted tone creeped into nearly every area of the home in the late 1960s and beyond, but was usually found most concentrated in the kitchen. Seen here on kitchen cabinets, this striking color made its way onto blenders, toasters, Tupperware, glasses, counter tops, and so much more.


We love looking back at these old home decor trends, many of which you’ve probably grown up with, too.