50 bold & colorful vintage 1950s home decor ideas, plus authentic mid-century color schemes

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Colorful vintage 1950s home decor How to be generous with color

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Because color photography wasn’t very common in the fifties, we sometimes get the sense that people back then lived in homes full of black, grey and white.

But as you can see in this collection of colorful vintage 1950s home decor photos, they lived with lots of bright and bold hues, too.

If you want to dive a little deeper, we have also included a set of 16 authentic retro Home & Garden magazine color schemes from 1959.

Choosing paint colors for the late 1950s home

Colorful vintage 1950s home decor ideas: How to make your house sing with color

American Home – October 1959

Color is everywhere around you. But nowhere is it more exciting or more important than in your home.

Red and yellow color scheme for a dramatic retro dining room (1950s)

The choices open to you are as varied as the rainbow itself… soothingly subtle or bold and bright.

Get ideas for how to get vibrant accents… how to be monochromatic with your favorite color. Ideas to make your whole house sing with color!

Vibrant yellow living room with orange and green accents and a white sofa (1959)

Vintage 50s dining nook in orange and yellow

Get drama in color harmony

… and come up with a striking room. Choose fabrics, wall and floor coverings in colors that go well together.

Add a dash of the unexpected in an accent color, or use a more intense shade of the room’s base color.

Primary color home decor with midcentury modern flair

Bold red chair in a vintage 1950s home

See how often an additional sharp color will pick up a scheme that is done in perfect harmony.

Simple drama is in that little extra — a Bristol-blue vase in an essentially pink and beige room, the emerald green cushion in a setting of blues and grays.

Rooms of neutral backgrounds take on high style when fashion-wise color is used on floor and furniture.

SEE MORE: What did a typical 1950s suburban house look like? Feast your eyes on this fab prefab home built in 1958


Pink ceiling in a ’50s living room

Pink ceiling takes its color cue from the floor covering, giving warmth to room and lowering the high ceiling. A good way to lift a room’s spirits.

Pink vintage decor including pink ceiling (1959)


Sparkle with the blue

Blue room has sparks of many other colors. The woven rug, throw cushions and brighter accessories relieve light blue effect, add more excitement to the setting.

Blue and cream living room decor from the late 50s


Orange with beige

Warm beige tones present a pleasant background in this contemporary room — but the bright idea is the flash of color in the carpeting and the accents of plaid.

Warm beige tones with orange carpet and plaid upholstery


Be generous with color

Let paint or wallpaper create a mood of serenity or excitement in your room.

Walls and floor coverings give you the widest opportunity for generous use of color. Give these areas special consideration.

Bright blue retro floral bedroom wallpaper from the fifties

Use colors to change a room’s proportions — light colors make a room larger, dark shades can lower a too-high ceiling, horizontal stripes can widen a narrow room.

Teal striped living room flooring - Colorful vintage 1950s home decor

Bring out the beauty of your furniture by silhouetting it against paler shades or subdue its imperfections against darker hues.

An interesting color contrast on the walls with paint or wallpaper, or a new shade of floor covering, can make your entire room look brand new without changing any of the furnishings.

Bed in blue and green vintage bedroom from the 1950s


Use a single color boldly

Your favorite color, of course. Whether it’s sapphire blue, or brilliant yellow, or lime green, or a subtle shade of pink, violet or pale turquoise, it will serve as a take-off point in your scheme that is distinctively your own.

The trick in featuring a single color is to use it in several lighter and darker shades, and with lots of white as the background. But use it emphatically for the most decorative effect.

Retro home decorating - Use a single color boldly - Red (1)

Retro home decorating - Use a single color boldly - Red (2)


Full-height striped fabric curtains and wallcovering (1958)

Full-height striped fabric curtains and wallcovering (1958)


 


Blue and green midcentury modern living room color scheme (1958)

Blue and green midcentury modern living room color scheme (1958)


Colorful furniture to use as accents

Colorful furniture as vintage home accents

Furniture colors available in the late 1950s


Retro midcentury modern curved aqua couch (1950s)

Bold aqua curved vintage 1950s sofa


Blue curved sofa dominates this retro room

Blue curved sofa dominates this retro room


Bold yellow & green window blinds and room decor from the ’50s

Yellow window blinds and furniture from the 1950s


Cozy vintage living room with blue accents

Blue living room chairs - Colorful vintage 1950s home decor


1950s living room with yellow accent chairs

1950s living room with yellow accent chairs


1950s orange upholstered dining chairs wake up an otherwise neutral color scheme

Retro casual dinner party table concept from 1959


Bright orange living room sofa in rural style living room

Bright orange living room sofa - Colorful vintage 1950s home decor


Orange & yellow floral 1950s child’s bedroom

Orange and yellow child's bedroom - Colorful vintage 1950s home decor


Yellow & blue bedroom decor from the fifties

Yellow and blue bedroom decor from the fifties


Vintage gold yellow bedroom decor

Vintage gold yellow bedroom decor from the 50s (1)


Vintage 50s master bedroom with red decor

Vintage 50s master bedroom with red decor


A mid-century modern robin’s egg blue kitchen

Geneva Modern Kitchens in blue from 1958


Pink plays off red in this 1950s family room color scheme


Vintage 50s master bedroom with shades of green

Vintage 50s master bedroom with shades of green


Vintage midcentury 50s master bedroom with blue and green soft furnishings

DON’T MISS THIS: Vintage ’50s master bedroom decor: See 50+ examples of retro home style

Vintage midcentury 50s master bedroom with blue and green soft furnishings


Mid-century living room with blue sofa and chair on green and blue flooring

ALSO SEE: 100+ fabulous ’50s floors of linoleum & vinyl

Mid-century living room with blue sofa and chair on green and blue flooring


Pink and white bedroom with wicker furniture (1959)

Pink and white wicker bedroom (1959)


Pink sofa and chair play off pink pinstriped wallpaper in a living room from 1959

Home decor from 1959 - Coffee table and couches


Blue wall accent panel harmonizes with blue chairs and accessories

Vintage 50s table setting ideas from 1959 (8)


A retro pink and blue fifties kitchen

SEE MORE: Retro pink kitchens: 1950s home decor you don’t see much today

A retro pink and blue fifties kitchen


Bright red retro kitchen with stainless steel appliances

Red kitchen - Colorful vintage 1950s home decor


 

Sleek stylish mid-century modern style blue bathroom

ALSO SEE: 60 vintage ’60s bathrooms: Retro home decorating ideas

Sleek stylish mid-century modern style blue bathroom


Retro blue kitchen design (1958)

Retro blue kitchen design (1958)


Small painted home accents: Decor from the fifties

Small painted home accents - Home design and decor from the fifties


16 vintage Home & Garden color schemes from the late ’50s

The right colors in the right combinations can be such rich treasure

Each of the 16 color groups on the following pages have eight colors arranged on a background color. Out of these 16 sets of nine colors, you can form more than 450 possible color schemes, taking any three contiguous colors as a scheme.

16 vintage House Beautiful home color schemes from 1959

Start with any one color of the nine in any set. Choose as the second any of the colors it touches. As the third and final color in the scheme, use any additional color that touches either of your first two.

Thus, each group will yield from 25 to 30 three-color schemes, which add up to more than 450 possibilities. These color groups continue a series that started with 12 in our issue of January 1958. [Note that the 1959 color panels start with #13.]

Vintage House Beautiful color schemes from 1959 (2)
Every year House Beautiful puts together for your use the most usable color schemes we know how to assemble.

These color groupings are based on existing merchandise in the marketplace, which we consider to be good now and which we think will continue to be good in the foreseeable future. So you can easily find fabrics, carpets, wallpapers, tiles, and other surfacing materials in these colors.

House Beautiful believes that one color, alone, is next to nothing. So all our work (and talk) is based on the use of colors in combination. When colors are combined, they affect one another in powerful ways.

The best color combinations are those in which each color has a reason for being included, looks better by the company it keeps, and helps to show each other color at its best. This mutual assistance does wonders with the quiet colors and gives unbelievable power to the strong colors. 

Vintage House Beautiful color schemes from 1959 (3)

Expert decorating shows the results of adroit color planning, but it is not easy for most people to separate the color plan from the total decorating plan.

To provide for the translation of color plans to anyone’s own situation, these 1959 House Beautiful color groups are presented in abstract form. The abstract presentation avoids all limitations set up by actual scene illustrations and allows you full freedom of interpretation in use of color in an individual way.

Any color plan may be transposed from one room to another, and in any one room a wide variety of different treatments can be derived from the same colors.

The 1959 House Beautiful color story consists of 16 color groups. These groups present aspects of color which are most appropriate for current fashion in decorating. Each group has eight colors arranged in such a way on a color background that contiguous colors — those that touch one another — show color contrasts that are presently in good taste or good style.

Vintage House Beautiful color schemes from 1959 (4)

Each group has more than enough colors for any single color plan. A number of rooms may be interrelated in color by continuing through a color series, having one or two neighboring colors common to neighboring rooms.

It is permissible to depart from the background shown and to use one of the other colors of the group as a background, but care should be taken to give preference to the lightest and the quietest colors.

Dark or vivid colors as backgrounds generally call for expert skill in their use. The strength or degree of contrast should be related to the design and purpose of the room.

The House Beautiful color groups include colors commonly available, but shown in combinations that are not common. This will suggest ways to combine still-serviceable items, such as rugs, furniture, drapery, etc., with new furnishings and/or new surroundings such as wallpaper or paint to achieve new contemporary color effects.

Vintage House Beautiful color schemes from 1959 (5)

The background color is important

The background color is the largest area on each page, and is the key to why the other colors look as they do. It is the “hinge” color around which all the others revolve, so you cannot ignore it. It is “Mr. Big.”

It might be the color of the four walls, or the floor, or the ceiling. No multicolor room scheme would work well without the background color.

Vintage House Beautiful color schemes from 1959 (6)

The proportion of color area to color area matters

In general, those given the most space on the page are best to use in large areas.

Vintage House Beautiful color schemes from 1959 (7)

Placement is important

The arrangement of the colors in each scheme is not happenstance or random. The colors that look best together adjoin each other.

Thus you can divide the page, reducing the number of colors to fit your needs, without destroying the balance and pleasantness of the groupings.

Vintage House Beautiful color schemes from 1959 (8)

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts

How true this is in color! Colors in combination — the right combination — have a character they cannot have alone.

The heart of the 1959 House Beautiful Look in color is combinations — not separate colors set apart. The value of these color groups for your own life lies in the great flexibility they offer you. But they have just enough discipline built into them to keep you from getting too far afield.

They are predicated on freedom of choice, for you will still have to make a number of choices about how to apply these basically sound schemes.

Vintage House Beautiful color schemes from 1959 (1)

NOW SEE THIS: 130 vintage ’50s house plans used to build millions of mid-century homes we still live in today

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