Hazel Dell Brown kitchen design for Armstrong Flooring, 1941

194os kitchen design by hazel dell brownWho was the most influential residential architect of the 20th Century that you never heard of? Royal Barry Wills. Who was the most influential residential interior designer of the 20th Century that you never heard of? Hazel Dell Brown. I wonder if they ever met each other. If I had a dinner party time machine, these two would be At The Top of My List! Above: Let’s discuss Anatomy of a Kitchen Design — Hazel Dell Brown for Armstrong Linoleum, Kitchen Design 1941.

armstrong flooring kitchen design 1940s
Mrs. Dell Brown was an Indiana art teacher / supervisor hired in the 1920s by Armstrong to create aspirational rooms for their advertising. To understate it: She knew how to pull together a room.

In this little piece of 1941 taffy delight, she shows us how to judiciously combine colors with a bit of eye-popping pattern — polka dots done positive and negative in two colorways, oh my! — to create a happy, airy kitchen.

Hey, there’s even room for the Mrs. of the house to write a novel in between her time spent cooking and sewing up some more … ruffled upholstery.

mood board for a 1940s kitchen

Dell Brown also gives us an alternate color pattern that includes a ceiling “painted delphinium blue”. I have just decided: Somewhere in my house, I need a ceiling painted delphinium blue. Note: The mood board above illustrates how ya build a room’s color/design palette: START WITH YOUR PATTERN. In this case, it’s the plaid on the curtain. Ya pull all the colors for your room from that first piece. Ta da. Thank you, Mrs. DB!

  1. Katharine Carroll says:

    I really like how this kitchen had a designated space even for typing and sewing. I prefer this style to today’s large islands stuck in the middle. How often I’m sewing on a item and have something baking in the oven, course, writing thank you notes & checking email on the kitchen table. Thanks for this pic. It’s given me some great ideas for my next home. They were so practical back then.

    1. CarolK says:

      @Katharine Carroll, I’d much rather have a nice kitchen table in my renovated kitchen than an island. However, I’m going to need to put my cooktop/rangetop or wall ovens in an island. Our kitchen is too small and u-shaped and by installing an island we’ll make it about double the size it is now. Kitchen tables invite family and friends to hand around and talk after the meal, they’re good for kids doing homework and us adults paying bills and other adulating, they can be great work surfaces for us short bakers, and they’re wonderful for aging in place. Our current kitchen table will be moved to the Florida room/sunroom for family dinners. The kitchen table needs to make a comeback.

        1. CarolK says:

          I love those tables, Pam, and the idea behind them! People share and live their lives more around a table than they are likely to around the best kitchen island in the world

          There are currently a couple of stories on Houzz that us RetroRenovators might like. One was just posted and is about the glories of some vintage furniture pieces like telephone tables, roll top desks, dressing tables, and stereos. and the other is of a cool time capsule house in Austin with a teal kitchen, green bathroom and knotty pine panelling.

  2. Lisa McGuire says:

    On Indianapolis’ north side, suburb Carmel has a main thoroughfare named Hazel Dell Parkway. Now we know who she was. Thanks.

      1. linoleummy says:

        That’s a neat little piece of retro that isn’t easily torn down! Of course Ganesha Avenue in Southern California was changed to the more lovely Fairplex drive.

  3. Kim says:

    omg…I think we had that same color linoleum in our house when we moved in my mom’s house in 1968. The house was built in 1933. I’ve been thinking about going back to that so it was nice to see how it would look. thanks!

  4. Jamie says:

    I am still puzzling wuzzling over how to redo my 1950s kitchen, especially the window treatments. This one is a real contender — love the matchstick blinds and pink silk curtains! And the positive-negative polkie dots!

  5. Sean says:

    I am looking for retro carpet for my 1971 built condo. I want plush avocado green and plush harvest gold. Ideas?

  6. Beth Pierce says:

    As a native of Lancaster, PA, I love Armstrong flooring. Many of my friends dads worked there and everyone I knew had Armstrong flooring in their kitchen and bathroom. My mom updated her pink and black tile bathroom floor and was dissatisfied with the product and Armstrong replaced it for free. My mother washed her kitchen and bathroom floor every day except Sat and Sunday. She felt like the indentations in the new vinyl floor trapped dirt and she could not get it clean! Every spring and fall, my dad cleaned and buffed their hardwood floors, he loved it when they installed wall to wall carpet. No more buffing!

  7. Debbie in Portland says:

    I work in a grade school that was built in 1963. We have the original linoleum tiles in almost all of the classrooms. Our custodian dust-mops them almost every night, and the rooms are totally cleared out at the end of the school year and the floors are deep-cleaned and waxed during the summer. They look brand new after that’s done.

    I love everything about this kitchen, except for the polka dots on the desk. That dark blue, marble-looking floor is amazing!

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