The Most Popular 1940s Interior Paint Colors

During the 1940s interior paint colors were used by homeowners simply to freshen up their living spaces and make them feel safer.

These include: blue, green, red, yellow, orange, and even pink! Here’s a look at some of the most popular interior paint colors from this decade that are still perfect today.

With hundreds of paint colors to choose from, it can be hard to decide which color best suits your interior design needs.

But while the sheer number of paint colors available can seem overwhelming, there’s one simple rule that can help you pick the perfect color in no time at all: just choose the most popular color of the decade! In this post, we’ll cover 1940s interior paint colors and their popularity during that decade, so you can decide which 1940s paint color best matches your design style.

10 Popular 1940s Interior Paint Colors

The interior colors that were popular in American homes during the 1940s, often mixed with white paint and called Neutrals, are a good bet for today’s design needs. Here’s a quick overview.

1940s paint colors

1. A Nautical Theme

In a time when Europe was torn apart by World War II, Americans sought refuge in simplicity. To many, that meant returning to a more carefree, happy days style of living. The decorative themes and color schemes from the 1940s were often bold, cheerful and timeless.

Ocean blues and nautical reds dominated many American homes during this decade, so if you’re looking for something along those lines for your next project you might want to try a sea-foam green and navy blue or deep red with white trim (see above).

2. Neon Lights

The most popular interior paint colors of 1941 were bright, as these neon lights would suggest. When it came to color, one trendsetter described his home as bold and arrogant, with electric pink and lime green walls. Another homeowner said she liked purple because it was a color that evoked mystery.

3. Pastels

The most popular interior paint colors during the war years were lighter and softer hues, especially pastels. Since most consumer goods, including paint, were in short supply at that time, people chose bright shades that had a high visual impact with as little paint as possible.

Women’s magazines also advised their readers to select light colors for their homes so that if rationing continued after World War II ended it did they would have enough paint left over to finish their interiors.

4. Living Rooms in Neutral Tones

Since World War II had only recently ended, many people were trying to find ways to soften their homes. It was also a time when many women were entering or re-entering the workforce, which meant they could no longer devote as much time and attention to home decor.

Neutral tones became a popular choice for both designers and homeowners. The most popular choices included cream, taupe, light brown, soft yellow and light green.

5. Dark Wood Furniture

With hundreds of furniture-painting methods available, painted furniture is one trend that has remained popular over time. From a basic coat to accentuate grain to elaborate designs that mimic hand-carved furnishings, there are nearly limitless possibilities. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to buying new furniture, try painting what you already have.

6. Red and Black Accents

In bedrooms, bedrooms, and entryways, red wallpaper with black accents was a popular choice in homes during World War II. As economic times grew hard, families sought to turn spaces into something luxurious while keeping budgets in check. Red and black were both strong colors that complemented each other well and contrasted nicely with crisp white trimwork.

7. Green and Yellow Decorating

The most popular paint colors among homeowners in 1941 included green and yellow. The Green area took a bit of a dip, but still remained one of the most popular shades used in decorating homes during that decade.

Perhaps it was because green was an easy shade to work with: you could use an olive or sage green for trim around windows and doors, but also combine a bright shade (like grass) with more neutral tones (like brown or black) to create warm and cheerful spaces that weren’t overly colorful.

8. Blue Palettes

Blue may be soothing, but it can also be overpowering. Used as an interior color in large spaces, such as a bedroom or family room, blue can make rooms feel smaller and more confined. Painting your interior walls with shades of blue might not be advisable for larger rooms like living rooms and bedrooms, which are better suited to more neutral colors like off-white or taupe. Unless you want to create a Vegas vibe in your home; if so, then go for it!

9. Lighter Textures on Walls

Consistent with trends in architecture and home decor, lighter color palettes dominated interior designs during much of the decade. These lighter color schemes were often accented by darker or contrasting colors, such as black-and-white patterns or a richly stained oak flooring.

10 Colorful Curtains And Accessories

The ’40s were a time for change and innovation. Much like today, home design was driven by trends and adapted quickly to meet them. While most people think of bold art deco designs as epitomizing interior design in the 40’s, they’ve actually only been around since 1937.

The mid-century trend went back to more natural designs that used plenty of white space and minimal adornment. In fact, one major difference between art deco style furniture and their predecessors is that art deco pieces are decorated while other contemporary styles preferred simpler furniture with no frills or embellishments.

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