Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Color in the Home (Nov 1942)

Good morning!

I was looking for something bright and cheery to share with you guys today, but also along the lines of home decoration, as I still have visions of window treatments and new and improved linoleum tile flooring dancing through my head from the great den makeover of 2013. Well, what do you know-- Popular Mechanics had just the cure for what ails!

This 1942 article from the pages of that magazine was penned by Dr. Matthew Luckiesh, the director of the "Lighting Research Laboratory, General Electric Company". Who would know more about light and its effective use than General Electric! The article details how to harmoniously combine your interior designing color palette with the available light sources in your home. The fact that we get to see all these fabulous wartime era color combination is not hurting my feelings, either. Wanna see?

Sometimes I find myself a little taken aback by the color "things really were" in an era predominated by black and white photography. This several page spread, designated in the table of contents as a special "coloroto section", starts out with a showroom of living room furniture from Marshall Field's that looks exactly like a box of marzipan. UM! And YUM! The salmon-y pink of the chair rail and the wall paneling and the disused fireplace's border are all leather (!!) as are the yellow and blue chairs. I about had a fit. Who would have thought of this? Unexpected of no, the club car ambiance the buttery texture lends to the room is making my little heart flutter. Also, the wavy decorative window frame in the bedroom from the header, and the wavy mirror frame above the fireplace, are about fifty shades of Dorothy Draper. I'm in love!

At left, the Murphy bed of breakfast nooks-- the panel that forms the table and single leg folds back into the wall to maximize space. I always marvel at teeny tiny luxury apartments and how ingenious some of the space saving solutions are. I don't live in a palatial estate, but when I see someone with an eighth of the space I have doing twice as much with it, goldurnit, I am secretly jealous (and confused as to where they put their eight sofas...what do you mean not everyone has eight sofas?). At right, the "Plan-a-Room" decorating kit is KILLING ME with its minute, miniature little furnishings. Look at those red drapes! The credenza behind the  sofa! The cluttered and froufrou nature of this set up has a mile of appeal to me.

More from Marshall Fields, this time honing in on the color decisions that new furniture necessitates. I'm telling you, if I pulled the trigger on easter-egg-yellow furniture like this, I would also be in a world of indecision about what to match with what. Do you see the purple carpet? I'm on board with this, but I think that indigo blue wall is too dark. I wonder what the green hatted mystery woman finally decided on as best for her own formal dining room.

A clever thought on wartime blackout curtains below-- I know we don't need them for fear of air raids anymore, but sometimes six AM sunshine just comes too early, and wouldn't it be nice to have light cancelling curtains that don't look quite so draconian. I also love the model's hair and purplish blue dress. That must have been 1942's most popular color!

In reference to these two panels, the good director from GE explains a little about light diffusion, refraction through glass, and how different kinds of lighting affect different subjects. I just want an art print of either one of them. Wouldn't it be pretty to have a glass divider like this cordoning off a dining area in one of those open-plan house layouts where the living room and kitchen are mostly continuous? The caption says it's tinted, but not what color...the possibilities!

More about different colors and their affect on different patterns in different lights. Can you see yourself lugging an armchair in Marshall Fields' from one department to the next, to make sure it's 100 proof in terms of color and light suitability? I can. Which color do you think goes best with the rose print panel in back?

I don't know who has one of these in their apartment or home (maybe Carole Lombard in the thirties'?), but WOW. A lit panel with draperies and a "Chinese screen" behind it all. I love this kind of house decoration, whose sole purpose is JUST decoration. And doesn't it make this lovely effect of looking out your window, and seeing some Asiatic fantasy instead of your next door neighbor's driveway?

This illustration was about the use of fabric around the mirror and the trim of the vanity table to add some pop and pizazz to the setup, but the model's dress, collar, and brooch are of the most importance to me, here. YES! More dresspiration.

Have any of you retro-redecorating enthusiasts tried anything with transfers like this? I am always reminded of a cousin's adventures in paint stencil, tagging my cousins' bedrooms in garish, pastel tulips and the kids' names in huge letters, but THESE tulips look really lovely and art deco. I don't know that I would go as far as putting stencils on the floor, but I wonder if a few little guys like this wouldn't look pretty on an otherwise blank refrigerator front? Something to think about.

More concern for blackout-options-with-style, and this I love. "Applying floral panels cut from a roll of wallpaper" to spruce up a boring old rolling shade like this....I WANT TO DO THIS. I like the venetian blinds with patterns and those large black bands to either side, too. Anything would be an upgrade from what I have now, though, so take all my daydreams with a grain of salt.

How do you use color in your home? Which of these palettes or interior design ideas appeal the most to you? Which color would you rather be shot than include in your wall color scheme? Let's talk!

If you're interested in the whole article, I posted the pages in thumbnails below; have at! That's all I've got for you today; see you back here tomorrow! :)


  1. Where can I get a "Plan-a-Room"? WANT. Love the dark blue walls, too. I grew up in a big house, but Paul and I rent, so our space is always a bit limited. I need to learn some cool space-saving tricks.

    1. I see these little salesman sample versions of furniture on Antiques Roadshow and the like, but never one like this! I want a Plan a Room so bad!

  2. Those rich blue walls with the salmon pink chair rail and paneling? With the yellow chairs? I could die!!! So fantastic!

    1. Haha, you know it! That pink is SPEAKING to me.

  3. And today we're treated to 'Almond' and 'Beige' and 'Off White' with a touch of 'Ivory' to add interest. When did designers and the general public get so gosh darn boring, I want to know!!



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