As promised in my last post I’m sharing more images from my recent find, a spring/summer Spiegel catalog from 1955, this time featuring the fabulousness of 50s housewares and home decor. Catalogs like these are a great reference if you’re planning on doing any mid century decorating and looking for authentic color palettes, prints and furniture styles of the era.
It’s also helpful for dating items you may find when out shopping.
Classic characteristics of 1950s furnishings included streamlined designs, clean lines, Scandinavian influence and futuristic looks influenced by the the country’s launch into space exploration. The use of lighter (blond) woods, angled/tapered/cone shaped legs, metal, chrome and laminates were common design elements.
The 50s was a colorful decade for both clothing AND home furnishings.
Mix and match cabinets in light blond or walnut finish for “countless arrangements” was Speigel’s 1950s version of IKEA.
The steel industry boomed during the war years. But once WWII ended, there was less demand by the military for steel, so manufacturers started marketing and producing steel cabinets for home use.
Often found in white, but there were also versions enameled in pastel shades.
Steel cabinets from the 50s are coveted by collectors who want a period perfect look in their home.
The 1950s reign as the decade for kitsch. 50s decor that some would consider tasteless and tacky, others, myself included, think of it as wacky, whimsical and wonderful!
And some of the best examples can be seen in the lighting category. Take for instance the tv lamp. It sat atop your set and supposedly prevented eye strain when watching television in a darkened room. They were usually glazed pottery and often made in animal shapes.
In the upper left hand corner of the first image you can see a rearing horse, a doe and fawn and a panther, a tv lamp that also doubled as a planter! And the shades came in black, red or chartreuse. How cool is that?
Item 19 is a vanity lamp set in frosted glass that came in white, pink or blue with a chrome finish.
20-23 are wall mounted lamps that were referred to as pin up lamps.
I have a bit of an obsession with lamps, especially mid century ones. When it comes to decorating a space, adding a 1950s lamp is a great way to create a dramatic focal point in a room. Not only are many of the lamps from that decade sculptural works of art, but the shades were too. Of course the iconic lamp shade style from that era is the fiberglass shade that was laced onto the frame. Often those shades were decorated in abstract designs.
Some stunning textile design came out of the 50s. Bold colors, interesting textures, atomic, geometric, abstract and conversational/novelty prints were prevalent.
The drapes below were made in barkcloth, a pebble textured cotton that was trendy back then and is collectible now.
Tufted cotton chenille bedspreads came in all sorts of colors and patterns. I love the ones with the fringe and pom pom trims.
Sofa slip covers in all kinds of cool prints could be ordered from the catalog as well. Note the groovy tripod lamp on the side table.
As with textiles, the vinyl and linoleum flooring of the 50s was also colorful with eyecatching prints. It was easy care, with a baked on enamel surface. Available by the foot for gluing to the sub floor, or cut to size for use as a mat or “rug.”
Here’s a gallery of more images from the catalog. Click to see enlargements.
Till next time….