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Interiors In Time

Discover Australian interiors over the years:
the good, the great, and the styles we'd rather forget.


Since art deco's take-off in the previous era, in a natural progression the 1940's welcomes the first decade of modernist or contemporary housing. Though it's a quiet year for building and design due to the post-war efforts, a solid foundation of Australian designers like Douglas Snelling developed furniture that would maintain its popularity for years to come.

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lamp sidetable chair

Desk lamp

Much like the more modern web chair that rose in popularity in the Forties, lighting fixtures often reflected Art Deco designs, but could also be more traditional and ornamental. The style here perhaps better reflects the more delicate detail seen in the embellishments of decades gone by.

1940's' side table

Art Deco's influence is unmistakable in the geometric side and coffee tables of this decade. While the Forties see the introduction of more interesting shapes, the influences of decades gone by can still be spotted in the dark-wood materials of this decade's furniture.

Web chair

Iconic Australian designers like Douglas Snelling rose to popularity in the 1940's, producing edgy-looking chairs like this. Bright colours and kooky designs are on the rise in this decade, with more contemporary styles such as this beginning to surface.

As Australia becomes more prosperous, home ownership rates soar. Simultaneously, the world sees a higher production of plastics and composites which become a fixture in contemporary interior design. Welcome to the decade of lino, melamine and brightly-coloured feature walls!

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boomerang-table danish formica

Boomerang table

Designers like Parker Furniture became very popular in the 1950's for their simplistic, Scandinavian designs. More creative shapes can be seen in 50's furniture, with the boomerang table being a fine example.

Formica table

Formica and other plastic and composite materials really took off in the 1950's. Tables such as this form the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creative possibilities with newly-found materials. The combination of natural and manmade opens up a whole new world of interior design.

Danish sofa

Long and low furniture designs come hand-in-hand with Fifties modernism. This type of furniture perfectly complements the lenience towards a more open-plan style of living, creating comfort in 1950's homes.

By now, the influence of early Edwardian, Victorian and Federation homes is a distant memory for many. Instead, understated Art Deco and contemporary designs are the norm.

So, while we see no ornate cornices or fanciful features here, geometric shapes are still popular, and bricks or plaster painted either cream or salmon are extremely popular in new homes. Interior design really comes into its own in the latter half of the Sixties combining features from the past 50 years in a creative clash of furniture, prints and colour.

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rug bright-chair side-table


Bright and bold patterns are the flavour of the Sixties. A key culprit in the famous 1960's colour clash, accent rugs such as this achieve the desired affect well - think bold, boisterous, and that brighter is better!

Side table

Painted metals were commonly used as alternatives to wood, adding to that splash of colour so commonly seen in the Sixties. Giving a much more striking effect than stained or coloured wood, the painted metal enhances the intensity of this flavourful decade.

Bright chairs

Vibrant colours are a staple of the decade. Colour clashes, new materials and general frivolity can be seen in the fun designs of 1960's chairs. From polka dots to stripes and everywhere in-between, this era's décor is nothing short of vibrant.

In this decade, houses get bigger. Though open-plan living is still not quite on the cards, Australia sees bedroom sizing and living areas begin to open up. Composites, plastics, polished timber and brick continue to be popular. Meanwhile, what some now know to be décor-disasters are beginning to find their feet as much-loved features of Seventies style - we're talking salmon pink walls and avocado-coloured bathroom tiles.

Traditional aboriginal-inspired artworks are also associated with the Seventies.

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wall-clock lava-lamp rosewood

Lava lamps

Love them or hate them, the Seventies saw the rise of the lava lamp. Giving an ethereal, space-age glow to the average 1970's home, these lamps provide much cause for comment, as well as functionality.

Rosewood lounge chairs

Lounge chairs were often low-slung and covered in combination fabrics, such as vinyl and linen. The low style perfectly complements the new-age feel to this decade, bringing with it an air of laid-back, freedom of creation when it comes to furniture design.

Display unit

It seems most pieces of furniture bring with them their own statement in this decade, as seen in the chrome and coloured glass of this key piece of Seventies furniture. While still keeping that edgy-feel, designs maintain their essential functionality.

Commonly referred to as ‘the decade of excess’, this era embraces quirky and extravagant design - something that's clearly reflected in the average Eighties home. The post-modern style threw together the most popular colour combinations of a number of previous decades, giving us the joyful union of black and white art deco styles, the salmon and pastels of the Sixties and Seventies, and new combinations such as apricot and teal.

Milan’s Memphis Group design collective created a number of pieces of furniture which epitomise the Eighties, which are rocketing in value a mere 20 years later as collectors’ items.

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lamp marble-table dublin

Dublin sofa

Plastic laminate, metal, synthetic fabric and bright colours are likely to make up lounge chairs in the Eighties. Experimental combinations of fabrics and clashing colours continue in this decade, as perfectly shown by this Dublin sofa.

Chequered lino

Who can forget the black and white chequered lino of the decade? As a more cost-effective alternative to slate or tile, lino goes from strength to strength in this decade of daring design.

Marbled table

No one was afraid of mixing prints or patterning in the Eighties. Think block colours coupled with geometric shapes and monochrome features is all a bit too much to handle? It's all in a day's work for the 1980's interior designer!

Minimalism was the flavour of the Nineties - a stark contrast to (or potential rebellion against) the opulence of the Eighties - kind of like the calm after the storm. A good example of a Nineties home has a neutral colour palette of off-white and beige on the walls, carpet, furniture… talk about calm! Patterns are not completely defunct however, just much more subtly incorporated. Pastel stripes and cream florals tend to be the motifs of choice. Sustainability is not yet trendy, and buying brand new is definitely the thing to do - enter the likes of Ikea, a manufacturer that benefits exceptionally from Nineties trends.

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plates brass corner-sofa

Ivy trellis wallpaper

Where walls had been plain or block-coloured for 50 years, the Nineties sees a resurgence in mural designs. Still channelling neutral shades, typical wallpaper of the decade includes intricate details of a more floral persuasion.

Brass light fixtures

Oh-so shiny brass light fittings are common in Nineties homes. Perhaps a nod to the decadence of years gone by, these detailed fittings feature heavily in the standard Nineties home.

Corner lounge suite

Puffy corner lounge suites are the flavour of the decade. This newshape brings with it a whole new experience of sofa-lounging. With padded, comfortable upholstery in more approachable colours, long gone are the gaudy colour clashes of the Eighties.