This cozy vintage living room had a masonry fireplace wall & some special features

Cozy vintage living room with masonry fireplace wall (1940s)
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This vintage living room decor, seen here as it looked in 1947, was set in front of one of this home’s most impressive architectural features: the wide, ceiling-height masonry fireplace wall.

The feature wall incorporated the chimney breast, hearth and firebox, and continued the concrete block facing by several feet on either side.

The blocks used were flat on top and bottom, but on the front edge, had natural-looking hewn surfaces. There were two different masonry styles — standard blocks and those with striations — all of varying widths. Overall, it gave the impression of being a very tidy stone wall.

Attached to the front of the fireplace was an unusual sculpture that appeared to be made of driftwood. On it, the homeowners had mounted candles at various points, turning it into a natural candelabra. 

The furniture & other decor

Trends in interior design at that point — the early post-WWII years — were moving toward household possessions that were practical and realistic while also still being beautiful.

All of the furnishings and accessories in the living room shown here were chosen to work well with one particular piece of furniture: the large, low red coffee table.

But that table was no ordinary piece of furniture. It had a double function — typical of the then-new trend toward increased usefulness.

Vintage 1940s coffee table with slide out trays

Such a huge table was, by itself, a useful piece. But under its serviceable top was concealed additional usefulness — four lap trays for informal suppers. Above, you can see how the trays, that seem to be part of the outer molding and trim, could slide out and were removable.

In California, as in many other places, it was a 1940s custom to sit around the table and eat by the fire, so a table like this was said to be almost an essential.

Much of what you see here was part of a coordinating furnishing ensemble called “California Manor.” The packaged set offered fabrics and furniture, floor coverings, lamps, pottery, china, glass, table linens, accessories and more — all of which were intended to be mixed or matched, and could be assembled and reassembled with matching or contrasting parts.

ALSO SEE: Next to big windows, this tall midcentury stone fireplace dominated without overwhelming

That table’s same red harmonized with the reddish-brown woodwork on the ceiling — narrow planks that were suspended by wide beams. The walls on either side of the fireplace were covered in brown material that was matched to the warm shade of the wall-to-wall carpet.

Its color was complemented by the green used on the four comfortable armchairs, which were upholstered in a thick, wool fabric with visible texture. They were placed evenly around the outside of the coffee table to make a cozy conversation center.

Placed at a few different places throughout the room, several pots of flowers brought more color to match the hue of the table.

Finally, the dominant feature of the room — the grey concrete block fireplace wall — toned down the reds with its cool neutral tone.

Cozy vintage living room with masonry fireplace wall (1940s)
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