1930s to 1940s Furniture

Between the Great Depression and World War II, the United States experienced enormous upheaval and change. Swing jazz permeated the radio waves. Parlor games and movies were popular. Big names were John Steinbeck, Agatha Christie, Frank Lloyd Wright, Greta Garbo and Erroll Flynn. In furniture shops, Art Deco items lingered, as hot new items made the Art Moderne scene.


Furniture of the 1930s and '40s was often minimal in the average home.

Large, heavy wood furniture could be found in bedrooms during this time period. The vanity, a dressing table with mirrors, was commonplace. Molded plywood furniture that employed curved or rounded horizontal edges came into fashion; the style was called "Waterfall." Dressers, chests of drawers, nightstands and beds were formed in Waterfall designs. Bentwood rocking and sitting chairs were found in the bedroom as well as other rooms. Art Deco lamps, hope chests and animal fur rugs completed the setup.

Living Rooms and Dens

In the living areas of a home, you would find curved overstuffed couches and over-large radio sets. Huge sculpted pile chairs made on curved wooden frames added color. In some homes, the jigsaw played a part, showing up in the puzzle chair and or geometrically cut chairs and stools. Name brands included Thonet, J & J Kohn and Windsor. Lighting ranged from hurricane lamps that used oil to electric floor and table lamps.

Kitchens and Dining Rooms

Bent metal-legged tables and chairs were popular in the '30s and '40s. Some of these were called tubular chairs. Designer names included Anton Lorenz, Werner Max Moser and Marcel Breuer. The ice chest had evolved into the refrigerator and pantries or root cellars were important elements. Armstrong, Nairn, Crane and Americana kitchen designs showed up in magazine ads regularly with favored colors in black, white, green, red and pink. Checkered cloths, floral wall papers, patterned linoleum tiles and bar stools prevailed.


Smoking stands were placed beside couches or large chairs for the comfort of both male and female smokers. These often featured a built-in cigar lighter. Wooden or metal and sculpted personal bars held glassware and alcohol serving items. Porches were adorned with wicker chairs, and wide two-person swings hung from overhead beams. Virtually every family had an ironing board and iron.

About the Author

Debra J. Rigas, a professional writing coach, has been a writer and editor since 1975. She is the author of the nonfiction book "Everyone's A Guru" and has edited novels ("The Woman Pope") and worked in arts and sciences as a filmmaker, boat captain, landscaper, counselor, theater administrator and licensed midwife.