21 early 1940s interior designs by Hazel Del Brown of Armstrong Floors

1940s decorarmstrong-flooring-1941Remember our delicious story about Louisa Kostich Cowan, protege of Hazel Dell Brown? Hazel Dell Brown, head of Armstrong Floors’ interior design department for decades: The most influential residential interior designer of the 20th Century — who you probably never heard of. Today: 21 of her designs from 1941 — along with the entire catalog (from my personal collection) in a slide show at the end. Lovely interiors — for kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms and more — for us to scrutinize for an expert’s view on how to put together a room beautifully. 

1941 kitchens designed by Hazel Dell Brown:

Let's-decorate-1941Kitchens are the heart of the home — and with so many new appliances available, in 1941 homemakers were certainly dreaming of updating theirs. In 1941, Dell Brown’s interiors still reflected the deco/streamline design sensibility that was prevalent throughout the 1930s. The colors are generally soft, easy on the eye. And as usual, she pushes the envelope — there’s some wackadoodle in here — hey, let’s hear it for testing new frontiers! And remember: These designs are all about promoting the Armstrong floors, countertops, and on occasion, wall coverings, too. So the interiors are meant to be dramatic and appealing — to get you to look at the advertisement.
1940s kitchen1940s kitchenAbove: Polka dots AND red geraniums in a pink kitchen — awesome! We have not talked for a long long time about how red geraniums were, without a doubt, the signature flower of the mid-20th Century. This was one of my fascinations in the very earliest days of the blog.

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1941 bathrooms by Hazel Dell Brown:

Not too many bathrooms in the catalog. Note that Dell Brown wanted color! Pink or green fixtures, please!

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Other interior designs by Hazel Dell Brown in 1941:

Soft pink, soft green, soft blue — lovely.
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albert-dash-siena-roseAbove: I adore this foyer. Check out the hooked wool rugs from Dash & Albert. Most of their designs are now too contemporary in both pattern and palette for 1940s sand 1950s spaces, but there are a few that still make my heart skip a beat. Oh that Gypsy Rose! And the Siena Rose (shown at right) looks like it would be a fine proxy for the one above.

These puppies are expensive. You can watch their Outlet Store Facebook page for occasional deals, and there’s a big onsite sale coming up over Labor Day.

OR: Watch estate sales for rugs like these. I see them quite frequently, and they generally are quite inexpensive. They are also generally in really good shape. Dirty perhaps, but the wool — it lasted. And I think folks were careful with them. Goodness, do I love hooked wool rugs!

1940s decorAbove: Love the floral chinz-covered sofa with matching upholstered ottoman. And the color scheme set against the natural wood furniture. This is a brilliant room.

1940s decor1940s kitchen1940s decorAbove: Big shaggy fringe at the edge of the rug!

1940s decor

Above: Clearly, if Hazel Dell Brown had had Annie Sloan chalk paint, she would have used it! Note, I have been using Annie Sloan chalk paint on some itty projects — junky dollhouse furniture — and I LOVE IT. With more testing now complete, I much much much prefer it over the milk paint I tested.

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What other design and decorating details do you see in these rooms that you love, dear readers?

A slide show of the complete 1941 catalog:

Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge on screen… click anywhere to move forward and look for previous and next buttons within photo to move back or forth… you can start or stop at any image:

  1. Tracy says:

    great use of small space in kitchens. Very ahead of her time with islandsds. and love the kiddy corner pen.

  2. Lynne says:

    Why, why, can’t Armstrong reproduce some of these amazing floor patterns??

    It would be so easy to take a page from their own history book.

  3. Janet in ME says:

    Hit something on my keyboard and lost my post but glad it showed up and I didn’t lose it. Another thing I really noticed is the stenciling? around the window that matches the canister set on the shelf next to it. She really paid attention to detail! Interestingly pertinent, when we moved into our 1958 ranch whose owner was the original purchaser, there was a washed out ugly rug in the living room under the coffee table. I went to roll it up to toss it and the underneath showed that it was a beautifully done colorful floral hooked rug that had bleached out on the topside! Needless to say it is now upside-down in my bedroom and some day I will have a rug place remove the binding and put it on the washed out bottom side. I think it is a real treasure for sure!

  4. Geronimom says:

    How adorable are those kitchens?! I especially love the blue & red charmer w/ the half table& 2 chairs looking out the open window – although I’m thinking that without screens, flies in the food would definitely be an issue! And what woman wouldn’t just love to relax and pamper herself in that lovely boudoir with the glamorous skirted dressing table – oh so elegant! The 40s definitely had some neat stuff going on – amazing when you think of all the war stuff happening at that time, too. My mom was a young woman fresh out of college in the middle of that decade and I have always loved looking at old photos and classic movies from back then to see just what kind of physical environment she would have experienced & enjoyed – thanks for this lovely treasure trove!

  5. sherree says:

    I am still drawn to the 1940’s style with all of it’s sweetness. Fruit and floral strewn tablecloths, pretty dishes, fluffy rugs and curtains my mother called “Priscillas”. We had them in our home growing up 🙂

  6. Kirsten says:

    I’ve always wondered: In that lead image, where did they keep their pillows during the day? Surely, they didn’t sleep on that large roll pillow?

    1. Kirsten says:

      Does no one know? Or have a guess? I’m really curious about this. (I’m super OCD; I could never have a bed where the pillows didn’t have a proper place to live during the day.) I remember these long roll pillows in the Sears catalog when I was a child. I’d gaze at them for hours, but I just couldn’t figure it out. Obvs., it’s still distressing me! LOL!

      1. pam kueber says:

        I don’t think any regular people lived like this.

        They are called bolsters, I think.

        Maybe if you had a housekeeper, who made the bed every day, that moved the pillows to a linen closet every morning… then every night, put them back on the bed and took the bolster way.

  7. Jay says:

    Very nice! Straight out of Hollywood. NO MCM minimalism here. I expect to see Claudette Colbert in the kitchen and Loretta Young in the bedroom. Oh yes, Humphrey Bogart in the “man cave” from a 40s Film Noir.

  8. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Good morning, Pam and Kate! I love these kitchens. My favorite is the blue one with the half-round breakfast counter with captain’s chairs looking out a French window. The corner hutches are very nice, and the swag curtain is perfect for defining the window but not interfering with the view of (I assume) the back yard. That’s why I like swags and valances in my 1959 ranch.

    Some surprises here–the idea of a kitchen island was already introduced in 1941! (See catalog page second from the top left.) And several of Hazel Dell Brown’s kitchens feature a desk suitable for paying bills, sewing, writing out recipes, etc. I think of those ideas as coming to the fore in the 1950s, but here they were the latest thing, it seems. I am most surprised, however, by the yellow kitchen with the day bed tucked under a window by the stove. A nice place for Mom to nap or read a book while the baby sleeps upstairs. Sweet!

    1. Janet in ME says:

      That daybed/chaise is one of the first things I took notice of too! That particular kitchen is really fascinating! I also noticed the towel stand at the side of the stove. They still make one very similar to it, maybe a bit smaller, and I have had one in my different bathrooms for over twenty years now. What really amazes me is the intricate installation of many of the floors! I love the floors from the 40’s and 50’s. We still have a piece of the kitchen floor in our linen closet and can see they laid the new one right over the old one. Wish I had one like it now. I often wonder if the ugly new ones from the 70’s and 80’s could be stripped off to find a great old floor underneath, but they are probably worn. These really are dream come true kitchens!

  9. Ed says:

    Love the image of the den. Apparently a trap shooter, looks like a collection of shotguns with the trophies that skill and luck eventually deliver. Seems strange to see golf bags as well, as now we know that a golf course is nothing more than the willful misuse of a perfectly good rifle range. Simpler times, then.

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