Revival of the Victorian notion of separate areas for formal and informal living had a considerable impact on decorating in 1957. The living room proper became far more formal, but there was a counterbalancing demand for rugged and informal furnishings for the den-television room or the "family room." The family room, an amalgam of the old-fashioned back parlor and the living kitchen, came strongly to the fore in homes built in 1957. Adjoining the kitchen and frequently only partially separated from it, the family room usually shared its clear, light pastel colours, topical wallpaper and hard-surface floor covering. The den-television room was more closely related to the living room, but with emphasis on brighter colours. and more informality.
The greater formality of living rooms was reflected in the continuing popularity of French and other traditional provincial styles, by new interest in even more formal periods, and by the increasing refinement and elegance of modern furniture design.
There was in modern furniture a great emphasis on the look of fine cabinetry. One collection featured the precise matching of wood grains across all surfaces of a piece; another used mortise-and-tenon and box joints for decoration; a third stressed natural wood's irregularities of grain and colouring and included as many as nine different varieties in a single piece. Inlays, parquetry and contrasting woods, along with close attention to the details of trim, characterized moderately priced and popularly styled furniture.
Upholstered furniture trended toward more exposed wood in arms, bases and trim, and there was much use of bolsters or loose cushions for backs, seats and even arms. Many chairs and some sofas had high backs, and the raised hemline, with bases averaging about 12 inches above the floor, was a development well on the way in.
Color schemes were simple, and subtle and subdued hues contributed to greater formality. Monochromatic and closely related color combinations were specially favored. For background colors, paint, wallpapers and drapery fabrics were most often seen in pale tints to off-whites, with turquoise and pink the most popular, although choices ranged across the entire spectrum. Next in popularity, though some distance behind, were the much-grayed neutrals in light medium tones. There were some indications that vivid background colors were returning to popularity at extreme high-fashion levels.
No color ever completely dominates the decorating horizon. Besides turquoise and pink, the pale tints and the grayed neutrals, there was strong interest in two-colour combinations such as turquoise and pumpkin and turquoise or other blues with green. Yellows and golds, and, toward the end of the year a completely new light red-orange, were popular single colors.
Matching wallpapers and fabrics formed an important subcurrent in every style, from the most formal periods through provincial to modern types. Documentary prints successfully invaded the popular price field. Heavier and coarser varieties of grass cloth, matchstick bamboo and burlap were highly favoured
for walls. More emphatic textures for casement cloths, strie silks and heavier fabrics continued to be popular.
In fabrics, the most popular patterns were loose and flowing florals. The same type of print was popular in wallpapers also, but was subordinate to the small, all-over pattern. Stripes were used in wallpapers, upholstery fabrics and floor coverings.
For rugs and carpets, light beige was the favored shade, followed by various other light browns—nutria, sandalwood, pecan and others. Turquoise and gold were also popular, but gray was almost entirely out of the picture. Uncut loop pile was a runaway favorite at every level except the most expensive, where extremely deep-piled velvet maintained its position.
Vinyl plastics made an almost complete conquest of the hard-surface floor covering field, and there were all-vinyl, vinyl-asbestos and vinyl-surfaced materials to suit every purpose and every pocketbook. Remarkably accurate vinyl reproductions of various kinds of marble were introduced for use on floors and walls, and an innovation for the do-it-yourself market was self-adhesive vinyl tiles.
In general, the year was notable for the amount of really good design available at moderate prices, not only in furniture but also in almost every other category of home furnishings.
There were some outstanding and successful co-ordinated groupings in the moderate price field, representing the concerted efforts of a number of manufacturers to produce furniture, rugs and accessories related, rather than firmly matched, in size, style and color.
Some trends, minor so far, showed possibilities of future development. Many furniture pieces were larger than in the past, and there were many pieces of unusual dimensions—sofas, chairs, tables and case pieces higher or lower, narrower or deeper than the current norms.