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AN AUSTRALIAN HOUSE OF THE 1950'S
Transcript of AN AUSTRALIAN HOUSE OF THE 1950'S
The average Australian house of the 1950's was typically one level, reflecting the lack of availability of building materials and labour post-World War II.
This is a classic example of a house of the 1950's Federation bungalow style, an Australian adaption of the British Edwardian style (hence Federation) and influenced by the bungalows of California, America.
The covered verandah has become part of Australian culture due to the warm climate and was taken from the American bungalow design.
The average home would have three bedrooms, a kitchen, a laundry and a living room.
The homes that most Australians wanted to live in reflected the ideals of popular media of the day, especially American home magazines which aimed to inspire women to shape and be in control of their part of the world (the home) after the war. With the increasing expectations of women to become the housewife figure, the kitchen was highly important part of the home.
A 1950's kitchen would look similar to the one above, with the colourfully painted walls, linoleum floor, enamel cabinets, efficient use of space with multiple compartments for easy access and homely curtains.
Through the persuasive television and American magazine advertisements, home appliances also became highly sought after, as they promised to raise standards of living and revolutionize the kitchen.
Living rooms offered relaxation for the family and provided space in which leisure time could be spent. The living rooms of the 1950's had a minimalist design, with its clean sleek lines and the decade's diverse signature colour palettes.
A common colour palette consisted of strong tones, representing the influence of new scientific, modern age. This included electric blue, hot orange, red, and bright yellow, as can be seen in this modern interpretation of the 1950s living room
This 1950s living room incorporates the mix of modern and antique style furnishing and homeware. Wall-to-wall carpeting was a new innovation and was considered an exciting and modern decorating choice. It provided a luxurious and warm floor covering to the room. Area rug is evident in this living room, accenting the positioning of the round coffee table. Other popular flooring included the classic hardwood floors and linoleum.
During prosperous times of the post-war years, great emphasis was given on entertainment as people found themselves with more free time.
Television had become the most popular means of entertainment after its introduction in 1956. Majority of the programs aired on Australian Tv was of American origin, which soon become very popular. This demonstrated the high esteem for which American popular culture was held at. British content was also evident, however not very popular.
Popular Tv shows of the 50s
I Love Lucy
Phillips Advertisement for radio retail outlet
Radio was another popular means of entertainment, primarily relying on the new teenage "thirst" for popular American music. Playlists primarily consisted of the new genre of rock 'n' roll and influential American artists such as
With the birth of new technologies came modern furnishing comprising of chrome legs, Formica table tops and vinyl chairs. American influence dominated through its vibrant magazine advertisements, encouraging the average family to create a modern space within its household.
50s Babcock Phillips Stool - Aqua Blue Vinyl
50s Brass and Marble Coffee Table
Kroehler Sofa Chair Furniture
Australians were mad about sport in the 1950's. In 1956 the Summer Olympic Games were held in Melbourne, the first time the Games have been held in the Southern Hemisphere. Australia's sporting achievements expanded their national identity on the world stage.
FASHION OF THE 50'S
At the time, figure hugging clothes influenced by American and British icons such as Marilyn Monroe dominated the fashion scene.
Popular 1950's womenswear included: the pencil skirt, rock 'n roll prints, polka dotted dresses.
Australia took home 35 gold medals, coming in third after the USSR and America. It was one of Australia's best hauls. The rapid recovery from WW2 ensured this.
Australia excelled in Olympic swimming, winning all women's and men's freestyle events in Melbourne. Dawn Fraser and Murray Rose were standouts.
Here, the American influence on Australian fashion is highly obvious. (left: Australian Home Journal, right: American Vanity Fair)
Not only did we excel at swimming we proved worthy in both cricket and tennis. During the 1950's Australia had won all three tests. From 1952-1958 Australia dominated in men's single Wimbledon. Ken Roswell and Lew Hoad dominated tennis.
Gloves rose dramatically in popularity during this time, as a woman would not be seen out in public without her gloves. Similarly, the pillarbox hat was thought to complete a woman's outfit and provided an interesting way to express oneself.
Richie Benaud (cricket)
Ken Roswell (tennis)
Lew Hoad (Tennis)
Winning men's singles from 1956-57)
Gloves and hats presented an elegant image of refinement and class.
left: American magazine, right: British magazine
Soccer and football were also gaining popularity during the 1950's
Transport of the 1950's
Australia was experiencing a baby boom after World War 2 which demanded change in Australian travel with the building of roads and the evolution of transport. Trams, trains and buses were still popular amongst Australians. But with the introduction of the FJ Holden in 1953, the car became more popular with a study estimating that 1850000 cars were being used in 1955. Commercial airlines were introduced in the 1950's but did not gain popularity because of the unpressurized cabins, low altitude and turbulence. Regardless of the lack of interest in air travel QANTAS in 1958 introduced regular round-the-world service. Diesel trains became more popular compared to steam trains. They were more efficient being cleaner, faster and could carry more loads.
The forms of communication available in the 1950's were:
- Post (managed by Postmaster General’s Department)
- Telex (a faster way of sending telegrams)
- Telephones (were slow and the quality was nowhere near as good as today)
Advertising for many different things spread from America and Britain to Australian audiences.
by Megan Tran: Housing and Design, Abhisri Negi: Entertainment and Music, Amy Ellison: Sport and Transport, Jonathan Miu: Communications and Technology, Raymond Zhou: Home Appliances and Fashion