What America's dream home looked like every decade in the last 100 years

H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty ImagesA living room in the 1970s.

Owning a home is a cornerstone of the American dream, even though home ownership has been at a historic low. But what American homes have looked like over the years has changed based on architecture and design trends, social movements, and technological advances.

Here’s what a dream home has looked like in every decade for the last 100 years.


In the early 1900s, the American Arts and Crafts movement popularised American Craftsman bungalow-style homes.

Martin Green/Wikimedia Commons/Creative CommonsGamble House, an iconic American Craftsman home.

American Craftsman homes were made of natural materials with built-in furniture, exposed beams, and open floor plans, according to HGTV.

The Gamble House in Pasadena, California, is a famous American Craftsman home that is now a museum and National Historic Landmark. Built in 1908 by Charles and Henry Greene, the home contains 17 different kinds of masterfully sculpted wood.


In the 1910s, industrialist Gilded Age mansions embodied upper class wealth.

Gryffindor/Wikimedia Commons/Creative CommonsHenry Clay Frick House on 5th Ave in New York City.

Some of the last Gilded Age mansions were built in the US in the 1910s. While much of the working class in major cities lived in poverty, high-powered industrialists amassed massive amounts of wealth and built their homes accordingly with dozens of rooms full of furniture and artwork imported from Europe.

The Henry Clay Frick House was built from 1913 to 1914 by the firm Carrère and Hastings in New York City. Frick made his fortune in the steel manufacturing business and became an art patron. Today, his home is an art museum, art reference library, and National Historic Landmark.


Modernism and art deco interior design styles ruled the 1920s.

Print Collector/Getty ImagesAn art deco living room.

The art deco style of interior design popular in the 1920s was characterised by large geometric patterns, streamlined shapes, and symmetry.


With the economic downturn in the 1930s, home design trends emphasised simplicity.

The Print Collector/Getty ImagesA living room in 1935.

The modernism of the 1920s was still in full swing, but the colours and patterns became more muted in the 1930s. Simple designs with clean lines replaced more ornate trends of previous decades, according to Architectural Digest.


After World War II, suburban ranch homes were the picture of the American dream.

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty ImagesA woman standing in front of a ranch-style house in a suburban neighbourhood in 1947.

As more and more Americans moved to the suburbs after World War II, owning a ranch-style home in the suburbs became the aspirational norm. In contrast to the American Craftsman style earlier in the century, post-war houses were more uniform and utilitarian with large picture windows and garages.


The mid-century modern design movement took off in the 1950s.

H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty ImagesA mid-century modern home typical of the 1950s.

The mid-century modern design movement featured homes with geometric lines, sliding glass doors, open floor plans with split-level rooms, and windows with views of nature, according to HGTV.


The 1960s were all about colour.

Popperfoto/Getty ImagesA living room in 1964.

The shift to patterned wallpaper, brightly coloured carpets, neon accents, and pop art in the 1960s reflected a changing American culture with room for experimentation and rebellion propelled by the Space Race, the Vietnam War, and flower power.


The vibrant trend continued into the 1970s.

H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty ImagesA living room in the 1970s.

Mustard yellow was a popular colour in particular. Bohemian plant patterns, wood paneling, and shag carpets were also favourites. Structurally, homes in the 1970s tended to put form over function for the sake of experimental designs.


A 1980s dream home was decorated with pastel colours and florals reminiscent of the English countryside.

Horst P. Horst/Condé Nast via Getty ImagesA living room in 1988.

Bonus points if it had a television, stereo system, or computer. Finished basements were also in vogue.


The apartment on the hit television show “Friends” was peak ’90s.

IMDb/Warner Bros.A still from ‘Friends.’

Wood furniture, primary colours, long curtains, and a general distressed style were big in the ’90s. Architectural Digest calls the aesthetic “shabby chic.


In the 2000s, home buyers wanted white cabinets, surround sound, and infinity pools.

Hero Images/Getty ImagesWhite cabinetry in a kitchen.

White cabinets paired with stainless steel appliances made for a modern feel in the new millennium, and technology like pre-wired surround sound replaced bulky stereo systems of the past. Some elements of the ’90s shabby chic remained like rustic, oil-rubbed bronze fixtures.


In the current decade, the dream home is technologically advanced.

Cavan ImagesA control panel in a modern house.

According to Architect Magazine, technology is becoming a part of nearly every room in a home, from lighting fixtures programmed by smartphones to voice controlled microwaves. More people also have home offices or work remotely from home due to the rise of telecommuting.

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