Interior decoration for 1954 showed a trend to an elegance achieved means of combinations of rich materials and new finishes, as well as a trend toward large but flexible furniture pieces.li. This revival of elegance expressed a reaction to the recent owl emphasis placed on casual, informal furniture design. It was not limited to any style category, but found expression in both modern and traditional. Increased use, but subtle handling, metals in combination with marble, glass, cane, leather, plat and wood was giving modern a richer feeling.
French Provincial was seen in far greater abundance, and took on a new elegance with hand painted and lacquered finish in pastel colours. New bombe suites, too. were an indication the more formal direction that this style category was taking.
The appearance of Venetian, Provincial, Louis XV, Regency and Italian Directoire in hand-brushed painted-on lacquer finishes, as well as in exotic woods, also pointed to the return of more elegant furniture style. Even Early American groups had marble tops to achieve a more formal air, while Queen Anne turned up in a contemporary white walnut adaptation but, at the same time, through finish and modification of design was readily adaptable to the contemporary scene
The restrained elegance of Chinese Modern was considerably more in evidence, and even the new ranch groups had a more refined and sophisticated, less rustic, character.
Case pieces showed a growing trend both horizontally and vertically. Supplanting two or three small pieces, these larger units, frequently adaptable to any room in the house, offered adequate storage space but avoided the cluttered look.
Paralleling but contrasting with this trend toward larger, more impressive case pieces was the continuing movement toward the "assemble as you like" stack units. But even this type of furniture took on a new character. It was no longer merely a group of cases, with drawers and open book shelves. Monotony was avoided by the use of louvered or tambour door fronts, cane or plastic sliding panels, variation in drawer placement and the like
The most popular woods were walnut, cherry, mahogany and maple, and finishes veered toward the dull, open pore, filled or lacquered, rather than on the high gloss. Bleached effects gave way to warmer colours in the beige-toast-brown family. The pastels, pink, blue and green, showed up in French Provincial and Louis XV and occasionally in Regency.
Although the 20th-century designs led the home fashion field, French Provincial, Early American, 18th-century English, Empire and Directoire were in demand. These period designs were simplified and greatly influenced by 20th-century design in scale and arrangement
Hardware showed considerably more imagination and was far less flashy or overdone than during the previous year. Pewter over copper appeared frequently, as did chrome, and occasion-ally white enamel over metal, but by and large brass, both antiqued and polished, led the field.
Television continued to have considerable influence on design of furnishings, with more pieces being mounted on casters for mobility. At the same time the television industry was busy developing more portable television units, which in time would help reduce the necessity for mobile furniture.
Synthetics continued to play a very important role in the development of upholstery and drapery fabrics. Less tweedy textures were being used and there was a decided trend to smoother textured materials.
Sheer curtains were made of Orlon, nylon, rayon, cotton and linen in interesting textured weaves with delightfully designed patterns. Many of these fabrics were designed to provide some degree of privacy while allowing light to enter the room. Various synthetic fibres were also used in the new carpet textures. Cotton and wool remained popular, in many cases the price of a good quality wool carpet being not much higher than a good quality cotton carpet. Vinyl and vinyl asbestos floor tiles were brought out in new designs and colours. Cork and special coloured dyed woods also played an interesting note in floor covering treatment.
Wallpapers continued to be used in many interiors. Hand screened papers in small scale abstract patterns were often correlated with matching drapery and upholstery fabrics. Modern techniques continued to improve the machine prints with the result that the design and tones of colour retained their original sharpness.
Electric lamp bases of black metal or polished brass were combined with shades of woven reed, natural color linen, perforated copper and brass and Madagascar cloth. Pinup lamps appeared which could be raised or lowered by means of counterweight pulleys, or which extended from the wall by a telescoping stem. Simple contemporary fixtures made of brass or copper and operated on a pulley continued in popularity.
Serving accessories still played a very important place in easy casual living. These included folding individual snack tables, sectionalized serving plates, lazy-susan trays and tables and stainless steel flatware.
In the kitchen, the trend was toward decentralized ranges, built-in furniture and dishwashers. Colored appliances were produced by a few manufacturers.
The year showed that the consumers were slowly freeing themselves from the shackles of traditional buying habits which were, for the most part, based on lack of confidence in coordinating home furnishings.