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.


  1. Mary Jean Frazer says:

    When I was newly married (1976), I loved Victorian styles. My mother thought it was the worst old crap . I told her that the next generation would be killing each other for Danish Modern and everything from the early sixties. I was right. Mid-Century Modern = that old crap my mother got rid of. I’m not a fan, but I am living in an 1850s house with a 1920s kitchen, that I am doing over in 1950s style. That’s when this house got electricity and indoor plumbing, so why not, right?

  2. 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.

  3. Lynell 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!!!!!!!

  4. 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.

Comments are closed.