There are many, many projects that homeowners undertake to add value to their homes. While it may match a current trend or fad, there is a real question about the long-term return on these types of projects. Let’s look at the trends through the decades from the 40’s to the 80’s, and see whether today’s market would consider this renovation and decorating through the decades a … fit.

The 1940’s

In an era dominated by WWII, architecture became straightforward and simplicity reigned supreme. The crowning glory of a home was the family lawn. On the inside, decorations were patriotic and new technologies were in high demand, although only 55% of homes had indoor plumbing.

Trend 1: Simple, clean lines.

– Cost Then: High – buy a newly built home on an average yearly salary of $1,299.

— Value Now: High. Clean, modern lines are very popular today.

Trend 2: Linoleum kitchen floors.

– Cost Then: High – linoleum became available the first time in 1948.

— Value Now: Very low.  Modern kitchens are floored with ceramic tile or wood, and linoleum is considered very dated.


The 1950’s

With the men back home from war, American society once again boomed with work and wealth. Average salaries rose to $2,992, and technology began to find its way into American homes. The Cold War dominated foreign relations, and bomb shelter plans were common. Payment plans for large expenses became the norm.

Trend 1: Technology, including television, dishwashers and electric or gas ranges.

– Cost Then: Very high – a fully electric kitchen set was $1542, payable in monthly installments.

— Value Now: Very high. While these exact technologies are no longer new, the idea of having the newest appliances continues to add value.

Trend 2: Floral and patterned wallpaper.

– Cost Then: Low – the draw of this idea was that you could install your own low-cost wall coverings.

— Value Now: Very, very low.  Wallpaper is almost taboo in some cases, and tearing out a floral look is top on the list of almost any homebuyer.


The 1960’s

The 1960’s were a time of great turmoil in the United States as a large youth population and many social movements changed the country. The average salary continued its climb, reaching $4,743 per year. Unrest surrounded the Vietnam War. Homes reflected the exuberance and the youth of the country.

Trend 1: Floral patterns, bright mismatched colors.

– Cost Then: Very low – Eclectic decorating allowed pieces to be found from many different sources.

— Value Now: Very, very low. These types of color schemes are seen in modern homes as retro at best and ugly at worst.

Trend 2: Concealed storage under or inside cabinets.

– Cost Then: High – this trend required renovation to closets and cabinets.

— Value Now: High. Concealed storage is still a very popular way to increase space in any room.


The 1970’s

1970s Style Rock N Roll float

via Flickr.com (unknown)

In the 70’s, the radical ideas of the 60’s began to gain mainstream acceptance. There began to be a heightened concern for the environment, disillusionment with government, and a slowing of the avant-garde trends that defined the previous decade.

Trend 1: Carpet everywhere, even the bathroom.

– Cost Then: Medium – the average price of carpet was $3.56 per square yard while the average salary was $7,564 per year.

— Value Now: Terrible. People around the country are tearing up carpet and restoring wood flooring. Carpet in bathrooms led to mildew and mold.

Trend 2: Energy efficient appliances and use of alternate energy.

– Cost Then: High – unless the solution was homemade, the technology was expensive, running into the thousands of dollars.

— Value Now: Extremely high.  Energy efficiency is foremost on the minds of many homeowners and energy efficient appliances increase value significantly.

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The 1980’s

1980s Cream Kitchen House Beautiful

via HouseBeautiful.com

The 80’s were the ‘Me’ generation, when money, success, and designer labels became the standards Americans aspired to. Divorces became more common, as did two-income households.

Trend 1: Mixed patterns and colors in a single room.

– Cost Then: Low – as accessories and wallpaper were often used to achieve these looks.

— Value Now: Very low.  As today’s styles tend to be simpler with a less cluttered appearance.

Trend 2: Glass tops on furniture.

– Cost Then: Medium – as the average salary rose to $15,757 and financing was available for any major purchase.

— Value Now: High.  As glass-topped furniture is considered modern in today’s homes.


Throughout the decades trends have come and gone, with very few having staying power. In general, technology was a good, but expensive, investment. The various ways we’ve decorated our homes have changed so much that almost no decorating trend lasted beyond its decade. However, when you are looking to sell in the near future, you can typically count on today’s trends to at least get a buyer through your door.

Happy renovating!


This Post Was Provided By :: Freedom Mortgage is a full-service mortgage lender servicing all 50 states with more than 80 offices nationwide. Freedom Mortgage offers mortgage lending and refinancing products, including FHA mortgages, fixed-rate mortgages, VA mortgages, home renovation loans, and USDA loans. Freedom Mortgage provides strong customer service to help first time home buyers and re-financers through the application process.