By Samantha Grose, designer for Optima Homes and JP&CO

1930s home interior

Image from the Colorado History Museum: a 1930s kitchen set-up

Homes Throughout the Decades: The Good, The Bad, and the Really Ugly

Homes have changed a great deal from the beginning of the 20th century until today. Each era has its good features, its bad features and, yes, its ugly features! This guide can help you take some of the mystery out of house shopping and give you an idea of what to expect from a home built in a particular decade. In this first part, we’ll focus on homes from the 1900s-1970s and in the second part, we’ll focus on homes from 1980-Today.

1900-1930

1920s home remodeled

Remodeled 1920s home interior, image from Jona Collins, ASID

Known for wooden accents, built-in buffets, and fireplaces, these homes were built in an era when indoor plumbing was becoming the norm.

Pros:

  • Beautiful details in the woodwork and built-in furnishings
  • Cove molding on the ceilings
  • Grand living rooms
  • High-quality building materials
  • Hardwood flooring

Cons:

  • Limited closet space
  • Tiny one-car garages
  • Small kitchens that are often galley style
  • Walled-off rooms with a very closed floor plan
  • No insulation
  • Delicate or outmoded plumbing

 

1940s and 1950s

1950s home interior kitchen

These decades experienced a post-war housing boom. Homes were often simple with sound construction and improved plumbing. In the kitchen, it’s common to see lots of upper wall cabinets and a triangle layout. Characterized by the Bungalow.

Pros:

  • Kitchens more spacious and tend to have more cupboard space and larger sinks
  • House wired for modern appliances, including the stove and (later on) the refrigerator
  • Lots of red brick siding
  • Hardwood prevalent
  • More closet space than previous decades
1950s kitchen remodel on Houzz

Our team at JP&CO remodeled a 1950s rambler, keeping the retro feel, but modernizing many of the elements.

Cons:

  • Soffits are common (and take up valuable space)
  • Closed floor plan
  • Lack the exquisite wood detailing of the earlier centuries (with the post-war housing boom)
  • Little or no insulation
  • Undersized power support

 

1960s and 1970s

1970s sunken living room

Great rooms (large, multi-purpose areas) are introduced. Ranch-style and split-level architecture was popular during this era. Unfortunately, so was asbestos.

Pros:

  • Homes more spacious with ample storage
  • Homes wired to support AC and heavier electrical lodes
  • Use of natural lighting
  • Garages larger
  • Heating systems better than previous decades

Cons:

  • Lots of popcorn ceilings
  • Shag carpeting (and less hardwood or tiled flooring)
  • Aluminum branch circuit wiring common (a fire hazard)
  • Oftentimes hardboard (aka compressed paper) siding, which tends to slough
  • Asbestos often present in attic insulation, ceiling tiles, etc.
  • Leaky windows
  • Sunken living rooms limit versatility of room

 

We hope you enjoyed this post! For more insight on your home and fun tidbits from our design team, subscribe here.

Samantha Grose, Associate AIA, Allied ASID Designer for Optima Homes and JP&CO

Author: Samantha

Samantha Grose is both Associate AIA and Allied ASID. She is the lead designer for Optima Homes and JP&CO. She takes a unique approach to design creating spaces that are casually sophisticated and timeless in design, where you and your family can live comfortably. She has worked extensively throughout the TWIN CITIES area having completed many new homes and large scale whole house remodels.

Samantha received her BS from the University of Minnesota majoring in both ARCHITECTURE and ART. She is deeply committed to a creative approach giving you highly functional spaces with an aesthetic appeal for everyday living.

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Written by Samantha

Samantha Grose is both Associate AIA and Allied ASID. She is the lead designer for Optima Homes and JP&CO. She takes a unique approach to design creating spaces that are casually sophisticated and timeless in design, where you and your family can live comfortably. She has worked extensively throughout the...
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