How Living Rooms Evolved Since the 1950s
The living room is probably where we feel most at home, putting our feet up after a long day at work, talking with family members, and getting entertained. In larger homes, activities such as dining and children’s games can be done in other parts of the house, making the living room even more of a focus for relaxation. But how have these rooms evolved over the years as society, the availability of space, and people’s expectations have altered?To get more news about bedroom furniture, you can visit oppao.com official website.
We at RentCafe looked at five ways in which the American living room has changed since the 1950s, a period that has seen immense shifts in how people live and also the arrival of new technology. We tracked this by analyzing how the living room’s function altered as activities got moved to other parts of the home. Then we looked at the evolution of three types of living room furniture — coffee tables, sofas and dining room sets — plus the impact of the new invention of television on the room. We found that a home’s living area and furniture mirrors changes in the wider world, reflecting a greater need for space, individuality and flexibility. In addition, it altered as floor space got taken up by TVs — until viewing switched to portable sets and then wall-mounted screens — and as other rooms got used as living spaces. Our research showed that Americans want to stretch out in their living rooms, with airier spaces and less formal furniture being features of home design evolution. In fact, a recent survey about self storage habits suggests that people want to declutter, with furniture being the item most commonly put into rented storage units by 62% of men and 52% of women. This could be due to moving house, downsizing, or freeing up space for a growing family, but also because people regularly change their home interiors. They want to keep up with the times and not have outdated stuff lying around for all to see — while an antique rosewood table is always a treasure, grandma’s old china cabinet may not be! And this, along with the increasing square footage of American homes, helps make new and exciting interiors possible. Let’s see how the five aspects of American living room design we selected have changed over the decades — click on the arrows below the images to see more slides.
The size and function of living space in the average American home have changed over the years, as has its distribution in the house, leading to additional rooms being used. Kristina Wilson is a professor of Art History at Clark University — her book Mid-Century Modernism and the American Body: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Power in Design will be coming out next year — and she tells us about the shifts in the ways families have wanted to use their living room space in the latter half of the 20th Century: while “all homes had a central living room, more and more frequently families were expressing the desire for an alternative gathering space, commonly called a ‘family room’ or a ‘den’ (or even a ‘rumpus room’).”
This desire went hand-in-hand with the increased construction of suburban homes in the 1950s, which allowed more space, more rooms and more options. While open-plan layouts became fashionable, the increased availability of space also fed the desire for more informal, separate spaces. The playful ethos of the ’60s did nothing to contradict this and it became even more common from the ’70s onward. The living room remained, and was the place to receive guests, but the family room, with its plentiful soft furnishings, was often the place to play in.
While the new room could be for the whole family, if it got called a ‘den’ there was more chance it was intended specifically for designated family members or for a certain activity. Studies and home offices are sometimes referred to as ‘dens,’ and may be the preserve of a family member who needs to work undisturbed at home, surrounded by her or his own paraphernalia. Such rooms are often relatively small, as entertaining others may not be a feature there.
A development of the den is the ‘man cave,’ a room specifically designed for and used by the man of the house. An adapted garage might suffice, and TV shows such as Married… with Children and Home Improvement featured them. But now these spaces are frequently located in the basement — as the name suggests, natural light may not be a priority! And they can be quite large, especially when equipped as media rooms with home theaters and expected to host the man’s friends as well. Not to be outdone, women can create similar spaces for themselves, calling them perhaps “girl-caves” or “she-sheds”!