20 interiors from 1952: The end of the 1940s

1952 teenagers

Welcome to 1952. A few years ago I read the terrific book Populuxe, Thomas Hine’s look at American popular culture and design spanning 1953-1963. These were the years of amazing exuberance that we remember as “the fifties.” 1946 to 1952, on the other hand, were kind of the “end of the 1940s” as the country climbed back to normality following World War II. It took time to launch new designs, so home interiors still had a kind of old-fashioned 1930s0 / 1940s streamline look for a while. Here’s a little survey — 20 images of basements, living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms from 1952 that show the changeover in progress. Mouse over the photos to see the products being advertised. Oh, and I just bought another Hine book, The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager. In 1952, as evidenced in the ad above, I think he would say they were still on the rise.

1952 drexel perspective

Drexel Perspective dining room suite. Very nice. I love the horizontal red cabinets doors on the hutch. And it’s nice to see dark wood for a change.

The Drexel Perspective living room line and the Drexel Perspective bedroom suite.

Tee hee. Lots of little chrome goodies to organize your small closet. Does anyone still have any of these? Hat racks – two styles. And look at the extendable hooks to hang clothes — kind of a carryover from armoire days?

First reader who puts in chartreuse wall-to-wall carpet and sends me pics wins a prize. Doesn’t chartreuse look beautiful with medium-blue? Note lamp.

I know that lots of folks will flip over this interior. Would you have ever guessed it was 1952? Look at those lamps.

Swinging the pendulum back the totally opposite direction, here’s an early American interior with a very pretty paint scheme. If you have recessed nooks, like this, consider painting them a different color to achieve this very nice effect. What a great way to highlight artwork.

Here is a great shot to the outdoors from an indoor porch or Florida room. Love the pinch pleats. LOVE the wire patio furniture.

In the past I’ve searched for a source for old-fashioned “mill finish” screen doors. I remember finding some, but I have lost the trail. I have two in my basement, scored at estate sales. Lord knows what I will do with them. Meanwhile, my next-door neighbor once told me she threw hers out when she moved in. It had a “P” set into it!!!!

I think that dishwashers must have been hot in ’52 because I found three ads for competing brands in one magazine. Here is a American Kitchens brand dishwasher, touted as eight years in the making. Note how there is one configuration where it is built into the sink base. Is there a dishwasher-only configuration? Does it have its own porcelain top? Anyone ever seen one of these?

Here’s the Crosley. Hmmm. I’m thinking the stand-alone dishwashers were under-counter installations, just like today.

The Youngstown dishwasher loaded from the top. Howdy do, that’s sure to impress the girls from the neighborhood.

Vintage Dutch Boy paint ads have such great color palettes — lots of inspiration here.

A very pretty kitchen from Armstrong. Again: Can you believe this is 1952? It’s definitely foreshadowing the next 10 years of exuberant design to come. Note the floor tile design, floor-tile-design aficionados.

More flooring ideas. I like that basket weave design.

And more floors. Love the kitchen cabinets. Is that his wife, do you think? I think we should start a wacky caption feature, don’t you?

Fantastic Rubbermaid. You see these every now and then NOS MIB. I have one from the 60s — avocado green, with gold flowers. It’s too big for my stove. Drats.

An over-the-top Armstrong bathroom. The wallpaper seems to have an Asian motif … it also reminds me of the Saul Steinberg wallpapers I showed last week.

This is way more typical of what I’d expect to see in a 1952 bathroom. The last gasp of 1940s Hollywood glam style. Those are large Carrera glass tiles (or similar brand) on the wall. Have always adored that American Standard toilet seat.  Oh, and the little bitty tub that is really sort of a shower receptor, delicious. Drats, this size tub was still available in the early 2000’s, from Eljer, as I recall.

Speaking of Eljer. They have that massive toilet seat, too. Funny, the details you grow to like. Pretty pretty Ming green.



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  1. gavin hastings says

    A few years ago- On Ebay I purchased a complete set of mint Better Homes and Gardens….1938 to 1951. I don’t think I paid more than 30 bucks, well worth the hours of inspiration and entertainment.
    These mags are still offered and I would certainly purchase them in group offerings-rather than a single issue at a time $.

  2. Laura says

    Thanks so much for this, Pam. My little cape was built in 1953 – my kitchen has salmon tile halfway up the wall like the yellow kitchen with the dutch door and naughty neighbor ;).

    I am dying over the lamps in the living room 5th photo down – and the chairs. LOVE!

  3. nina462 says

    I want the dutch door. In fact when buying my new front door last year I actually looked for one. but couldn’t find one–had I only known about this website then….

  4. says

    These are great!! Chartreuse carpet? I would LOVE IT!! (but not with my little peeing dog friends.) Love the black and white chairs in the slanted cabinet ad..so risque!

    and I’m with AtomicBowlerDave…the neighbor being wistful over what he could do for her…or maybe it’s the woman of the house oggling the tile installer while her husband is hard at work! 😉

    In 1968 we moved into a house that had RED RED RED tiles half way up the wall in the kitchen and a blue/black marbled linoleum floor with maple cabinets, I think the wallpaper may have been a red/white & blue print…it didn’t take to long to change the scenery…and yes, we got a portable dishwasher with a butcher block top. Hey, my dad loved my mom and wanted to make it easier for her! HA! We kids were doing the loading and unloading!

  5. KC says

    Pam, this is great. Would love to see more. I live in a house built in 1952. Under (too many) layers of paint, I discovered that every room was wallpapered-most was hideous but the sparkly flamingos in the bathroom were beautiful! In the garage, all that remains of a Dutch door to the backyard is its hinges. I wish they had left the door in place. The only closet goodie I got was a wooden spinning tie rack.

  6. Tamara Hoffbauer says

    Wow, should I feel badly that we still use the portable butcher block top dishwasher that my grandparents put in the house in the seventies? We have not gotten around to updating the kitchen yet, and it still works just dandy. (Now I’ve gone and tempted the appliance gods…)

    Pam, when I was a child we lived in a little cabin-like house that must have been done in the late 40s early 50s, and we had a great metal screen door with millwork, and it had a big “T” inset into it. I was always convinced that somehow that was just for me, even though we were not the original owners of the house. Kids are dumb 🙂 Loved that door!

  7. Catherine says

    does anyone have a picture of old built in shoe racks or any idea how to refurbish them? I have rectangular “holes” in all of my closets about 14″W35″H and 4.5″ deep obviously made to hold shoes. However, none of them have hardware or inserts in them any more.

  8. Susan says

    My house has a screen door just like those! It even has a “B” set into it. Good thing my last name begins with a B. Thank you for posting ads from these interim years. Just the inspiration I needed!

  9. A. W. Richards says

    Does anybody still make large “Carrera” or “Vitrolite” style glass tiles? Obviously the original companies are no longer in existence, but am looking for something comparable. I don’t have a house (we’re renting an apartment presently), but would like to know what options are available.

  10. says

    I love the red kitchen! We have recently purchased a vintage 50’s motor home. We don’t have the funds to do an out and out authentic restoration on it, but I am looking to see what the 50’s style truly entailed. I love your article and the ads! I now have lots of inspiration to go on! Thanks so much!!!!!!!

  11. Cheryl says

    Those thick, narrow TOILET SEATS! Anyone know what I would search for, say I should look for one on ebay, etsy, craig’s, etc? I think that type may be just right for my old (pre-American) Standard ming green toilet. Its integrated, sculpted tank back is too narrow to accommodate typical round seats when they’re flipped up, causing them to lean/press forward into your back.

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