Love 1940s interior design? Get the look in your living room with these key pieces

We've been shopping to recreate this look from our archive
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  • We never cease to be amazed by the timeless cycle of some decor styles – in particular 1940s interior design. This decade might have been heavily dominated by the Second World War, but it seems we emerged from those troubled times with a strong and positive approach to design.

    Nothing sums that up better than the cover of our October 1946 edition of Ideal Home.

    The original 1940s interior

    Image credit: Ideal Home

    This grand space has been brought to life with rich colours, while an eclectic collection of hand-painted ceramics and the decorative woven rug all nod towards a well-travelled owner with artistic flair.

    There’s no three-piece suite to be seen. Instead each item of furniture brings its own unique sense of style to the room. This is a look that has been carefully curated over the years, and where shapes are deliberately juxtaposed – note the boxy sofa in contrast to the elegant curved legs of the coffee table.

    Key pieces for a 1940s look

    The pieces we’ve suggested for a modern update of this look echo the bold use of colour. We’ve kept the classic armchair and found colourful ceramics that only require a trip down the high street. While floor to ceiling windows aren’t the norm, the window pane mirror will reflect both the original architecture of this room and the light.

    A bold Ikat rug adds a vibrant finishing touch.

    1. The mirror

    Proving steel frames never go out of style, this simple mirror will give your room and extra window on the world.

    Buy now: Simple window pane mirror, £129, Marks & Spencer

    2. The armchair

    Rich teal or emerald green upholstery will channel the 1940s aesthetic.

    Buy now: Grayson armchair in green velvet, £499, Atkin & Thyme

    3. The rug

    Ikat patterns are traditional to many parts of the world – but are particularly prevalent in Indonesia, India and Japan. Their popularity grew in Europe in the 19th Century, and since then they’ve never really gone out of fashion.

    Buy now: Icon Ikat rug in Green/Pink, £160, John Lewis & Partners

    4. The throw

    Post-war, navy blue, red and white, light green and this sunshine yellow were the colours to decorate with.

    Buy now: Mohair thrown in burnt gold, £90, Arlo & Jacob

    5. The coffee table

    Practicality was a watch word of the 1940s – and this table is certainly that. A tray-style edge keeps anything from sliding off the top.

    Buy now: Aldwych coffee table, £430, Neptune

    6. The vase

    Use vases to add unique character.

    Buy now: Atticus ceramic vase, £50, Habitat

    Which aspects of 1940s interior design will you be weaving into your 21st-century interiors?

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