Popular Interior Design Styles of the 50s


The 1950s witnessed the dawn of a remarkable era in interior design, characterized by a distinctive and influential style that continues to captivate designers and homeowners alike. This popular design movement emerged in the aftermath of World War II, reflecting a renewed sense of optimism, economic prosperity, and technological advancements. Rooted in the principles of modernity and functionality, 1950s interior design celebrated a departure from the ornate and elaborate styles of the past, embracing clean lines, organic shapes, and a minimalist approach.

10 Popular Interior Design Styles of the 1950’s 

1. Mid-Century Modern

Tulip chair (designed 1955–56) by Eero Saarinen

The Mid-Century Modern style has left a lasting impact on the world of interior design. With its clean lines, organic shapes, and focus on functionality, this iconic design movement brought a sense of simplicity and elegance to living spaces during the mid-20th century. The enduring appeal of Mid-Century Modern design lies in its ability to strike a perfect balance between form and function, creating interiors that are both aesthetically pleasing and highly practical.

Iconic furniture designs from this era, such as the Eames Lounge Chair and the Saarinen Tulip Table, have become timeless classics that continue to be coveted by design enthusiasts. These furniture pieces exemplify the ingenuity of the era, featuring innovative use of materials and ergonomic shapes that remain relevant and sought after in modern times. The design philosophy of Mid-Century Modern has influenced generations of designers and homeowners, inspiring contemporary spaces with its sophisticated and forward-looking aesthetics. Its timeless and enduring allure ensures that the Mid-Century Modern style will continue to be cherished and replicated for years to come.

2. Scandinavian Design

PH-lamp (1958 version), Denmark

Scandinavian design is a renowned interior design style that originated in the Nordic countries of Scandinavia, including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Embracing minimalism and simplicity, this design movement emerged in the mid-20th century and remains highly influential today. Scandinavian interiors prioritize functionality, clean lines, and a calming aesthetic, focusing on creating spaces that are uncluttered and inviting.

At the heart of Scandinavian design is the concept of hygge, a Danish word that encompasses a feeling of coziness, contentment, and well-being. This emphasis on comfort is reflected in the use of natural materials, such as light woods, wool, and soft textiles, creating warm and welcoming atmospheres. A neutral color palette featuring soft whites, gentle grays, and pastel hues evokes a sense of tranquility and a connection to nature. Scandinavian design is celebrated for its ability to provide an oasis of serenity amidst the busyness of modern life, making it a timeless and beloved style embraced by design enthusiasts around the world.

3. Atomic Age Design

The Seattle, Washington Space Needle, built in 1962. Atomic Age design included elements of space exploration, scientific discovery, and futurism.

Atomic Age Design, also known as Space Age Design, is an iconic and exuberant interior design style that emerged during the mid-20th century, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. This design movement was heavily influenced by the optimism and fascination surrounding space exploration, atomic energy, and the rapid technological advancements of the time. Characterized by its futuristic elements and a playful, forward-looking spirit, Atomic Age Design brought a sense of excitement and innovation to interior spaces.

At the heart of Atomic Age Design are space-age-inspired motifs, such as starbursts, boomerangs, and sleek geometric shapes, which adorned furniture, lighting fixtures, and decorative accents. The use of innovative materials like plastic, fiberglass, and chrome contributed to the style’s sleek and modern aesthetic. Sputnik chandeliers, with their multiple arms extending like satellites, became a quintessential symbol of this era. The color palette often featured bold and vibrant hues, such as teal, bright yellow, and vibrant orange, further enhancing the energetic and dynamic atmosphere of Atomic Age interiors. This design movement remains cherished for its nostalgic charm and optimistic vision of the future, leaving a timeless and enduring influence on interior design, with elements of Atomic Age Design still embraced and celebrated in contemporary spaces.

4. Hollywood Regency

Living room in Hollywood Regency style

Hollywood Regency is a glamorous and opulent interior design style that draws inspiration from the golden age of Hollywood in the 1930s. It flourished during the 1950s and 1960s, exuding luxury, drama, and sophistication. This design movement is characterized by its lavish use of bold colors, rich textures, and ornate decorative elements, creating an atmosphere of elegance and indulgence reminiscent of the glamorous Hollywood movie sets.

Hollywood Regency interiors feature plush and sumptuous fabrics like velvet and satin, gilded accents, and elaborate chandeliers that exude a sense of grandeur. Mirrors and reflective surfaces are also prominent, enhancing the feeling of opulence and creating a sense of spaciousness. The color palette often includes deep jewel tones, such as emerald green, sapphire blue, and ruby red, alongside classic black and white. Hollywood Regency style continues to be celebrated for its timeless allure and ability to bring a touch of Old Hollywood glamour to modern interiors, making it a popular choice for those seeking to create an atmosphere of luxury and extravagance in their living spaces.

5. Tiki Style

A tiki mug from a tiki bar in California

Tiki style, also known as Polynesian or Tropical style, emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, inspired by the fascination with the exotic and the allure of the South Pacific islands. This whimsical and vibrant interior design style captures the essence of a tropical paradise, evoking a sense of escape and relaxation. Tiki style is characterized by its use of bamboo, thatch, rattan, and other natural materials, creating a laid-back and carefree ambiance.

In Tiki style interiors, you’ll often find tropical motifs like palm fronds, hibiscus flowers, and tiki masks adorning walls and decor. The color palette includes bold and bright hues, such as shades of green, blue, and coral, reminiscent of a lush tropical landscape. Tiki bars with bamboo furniture, tiki torches, and carved wooden tikis became popular during this era, creating a fun and exotic atmosphere for social gatherings. Today, Tiki style continues to be celebrated for its playful and nostalgic charm, transporting people to a bygone era of Hawaiian luaus and tropical getaways, making it a popular choice for those seeking a relaxing and cheerful ambiance in their homes or entertainment spaces.

6. Pop Art Influence

Pop Art influence is an art movement that emerged in the 1950s and reached its peak during the 1960s. It not only transformed the art world but also had a significant impact on interior design. Pop Art celebrated popular culture, consumerism, and mass media, incorporating elements from everyday life into artworks. This influence spilled over into interior design, bringing bold and vibrant colors, graphic patterns, and playful elements into living spaces.

In Pop Art-inspired interiors, you’ll find artwork featuring iconic images of celebrities, consumer products, and cultural symbols. Bold and contrasting color schemes, such as bright yellows, blues, and pinks, were used to create eye-catching focal points. Furniture and decor often featured playful and geometric patterns, as well as quirky and unconventional designs. The integration of Pop Art elements added a sense of liveliness and humor to interior spaces, breaking away from traditional design norms and reflecting the changing cultural landscape of the time. Today, the Pop Art influence remains a popular choice for those seeking to infuse their homes with a sense of energy, creativity, and a nod to the iconic era of the 1950s and 1960s.

7. Ranch Style

Large custom ranch house built in 1966 in Bakersfield, California. This house exhibits most of the features of the style, such as long low profile and large windows.

Ranch style, also known as Rancher or California Ranch, is an iconic and enduring architectural design that gained popularity in the United States during the mid-20th century, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. This unique style is characterized by its single-story, low-profile design, with a focus on functionality, simplicity, and a strong connection to the surrounding landscape. Ranch style homes typically feature an open floor plan, often combining the living, dining, and kitchen areas, creating a spacious and airy environment that encourages family interaction and a casual lifestyle.

One of the defining features of Ranch style architecture is its integration with nature. Large windows, sliding glass doors, and outdoor patios or porches blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living, allowing residents to enjoy scenic views and an abundance of natural light. The exterior of Ranch style homes typically showcases a horizontal layout, with a low-pitched roof, and a combination of materials like wood, stone, and brick. Embracing a sense of simplicity and informality, Ranch style remains a beloved and timeless design choice for homeowners seeking a comfortable and welcoming living space that reflects the charm of mid-century suburban living while remaining adaptable to contemporary lifestyles.

8. Kitsch and Retro-Inspired Design

Kitsch and Retro-Inspired Design is a playful and nostalgic interior design style that celebrates the aesthetics of the past, particularly from the mid-20th century. It embraces quirky, unconventional, and sometimes humorous elements, paying homage to vintage and retro decor. This design movement is characterized by its bold use of colors, eclectic patterns, and a mix of vintage and modern pieces, creating a charming and whimsical atmosphere that exudes a sense of fun and personality.

In Kitsch and Retro-Inspired interiors, you’ll find a mix of iconic vintage furniture, retro decor items, and pop culture memorabilia from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. This design style often incorporates elements like vinyl records, vintage posters, neon signs, and retro appliances, evoking a sense of nostalgia for the past. Bold and contrasting colors, like mustard yellow, avocado green, and vibrant orange, along with geometric and psychedelic patterns, infuse spaces with energy and a touch of vintage charm. Kitsch and Retro-Inspired Design is beloved for its ability to transport occupants to bygone eras and create a space that celebrates the joy and exuberance of mid-century aesthetics, making it a popular choice for those seeking a unique and quirky interior with a nod to the past.

9. Nautical and Coastal Style

Nautical and Coastal Style is a popular interior design theme that draws inspiration from the seaside and maritime life. This design style captures the essence of beachfront living, evoking a sense of relaxation, tranquility, and connection with the ocean. Nautical elements, such as ship wheels, ropes, anchors, and seashells, are often incorporated as decorative accents, creating a coastal ambiance that brings the beauty of the sea indoors.

In Nautical and Coastal interiors, a color palette inspired by the sea dominates, with hues like various shades of blue, sandy neutrals, and crisp whites. These colors contribute to an airy and light-filled atmosphere, mirroring the colors of the ocean and sandy beaches. Natural materials like wood, rattan, and wicker are frequently used for furniture and decor to enhance the coastal feel. Soft, comfortable furnishings like plush sofas and oversized pillows invite a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, perfect for coastal living. This design style remains popular among those seeking to infuse their homes with a sense of beachside retreat and a timeless appreciation for the beauty of the coast.

10. Art Deco Revival

The Art Deco Revival is a design movement that emerged in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, recalling the iconic Art Deco style that first flourished during the 1920s and 1930s. This revival pays homage to the glamour, luxury, and sophistication of the original Art Deco era, while incorporating contemporary elements to create a modern reinterpretation. Art Deco Revival interiors exude a sense of opulence and grandeur, featuring bold geometric patterns, rich materials like marble and brass, and elegant furnishings that capture the essence of the Roaring Twenties.

In Art Deco Revival interiors, you’ll find striking and symmetrical designs, as well as sleek lines and streamlined forms that exude a sense of modernity. The color palette often includes bold hues, such as jewel tones like emerald green, sapphire blue, and ruby red, along with metallic accents like gold and silver. Art Deco-inspired furnishings, such as curved velvet sofas, mirrored surfaces, and luxurious chandeliers, add a touch of extravagance to the spaces. The Art Deco Revival is a celebration of an iconic design era that continues to captivate and inspire contemporary interiors, providing a glimpse into a bygone era of elegance and allure.

Celebs Whose Homes Have a 1950’s Look

There are famous celebrities and public figures who have embraced the 1950s interior design style in their homes. Many celebrities appreciate the timeless elegance and nostalgic charm of Mid-Century Modern aesthetics, incorporating iconic furniture pieces and design elements from the era into their living spaces.

For instance, actress Jennifer Aniston is known to have a fondness for Mid-Century Modern design. Her Los Angeles home features sleek and minimalist furniture, as well as vintage pieces that pay homage to the 1950s style. Leonardo DiCaprio is another celebrity who has expressed an interest in Mid-Century Modern design, with his Palm Springs home showcasing classic furniture pieces from the era.

Moreover, celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Jessica Alba have also incorporated elements of 1950s interior design in their homes. Their spaces often feature clean lines, natural materials, and an open layout that reflects the simplicity and functionality of the Mid-Century Modern style. The enduring appeal of the 1950s interior design continues to captivate celebrities and design enthusiasts alike, bringing a touch of timeless sophistication and a sense of nostalgia to contemporary living spaces.


The 1950s was a pivotal decade in interior design, reflecting the post-war optimism, economic prosperity, and technological advancements of the time. The designs of that era embraced modernity, functionality, and a sense of hope for the future. Mid-Century Modern emerged as a timeless and influential style, characterized by clean lines, organic shapes, and a seamless connection to nature. Other popular styles, such as Atomic Age, Nautical and Coastal, and Hollywood Regency, brought their own unique charm and elegance to interiors. These iconic design movements continue to captivate and inspire contemporary spaces, showcasing the enduring appeal and timeless sophistication of the popular interior design styles of the 50s.

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