Design of the Period House - 1930-1939

The early 1930s were the years of The Depression and the later years a period of uncertainty as developments in Germany unfolded. Many of the 1920s trends in house design and constructions continued; most homes were servant-less. The motorcar played an ever increasing role. Houses were small and children part of the life of the family.

The 1930s saw more house-building activity. In 1919, there were eight million homes; by 1939 there were 12 million. However, most of these houses were built in the 1930s.

Most of the 1930s houses were in suburban developments in the countryside around existing towns and cities. Most houses were built by speculative builders, who funded each project from the profits from the previous buildings. Houses tended to be in semi-detached pairs, and owned rather than rented.

The typical house of the 1930s was generally smaller than those before 1914. It had a front room off a hall, a second living room at the rear and a kitchen. Upstairs there were two large bedrooms, a third much smaller room, and a bathroom and toilet. An addition to the typical house was the garage. A new pattern was the bungalow with all its rooms on a single level, or the chalet-style bungalow with one or two bedrooms in the roof.

The 1930s saw a significant increase in the number of flats or apartments built.

The 1930s saw a number of different styles in domestic architecture.

The architects working on council housing produced designs which stressed uniformity whereas it was the desire of private owner-occupiers to show their individuality. Their semi-detached houses were usually identical but with slight variations perhaps in the half-timbering or treatment of the gables.

The most popular style, taking its influences from the Arts and Crafts movement, continued to be the Tudorbethan style. Houses were often half timbered with a mix of red brick and some pebbledash. Pebbledash was less common than it had been in the 1920s. Other features were areas of herringbone brickwork, tile-hung walls and weather-boarding. Windows had wooden frames with iron casements and diamond-shaped leaded panes. The roof had red clay tiles rather than slates, and chimneystacks were often elaborate. The porch was either a simple hood with console brackets or else gabled. The door was oak with iron nails and fittings. Most houses had a two-storey bay with angled or half-round sides. Inside there was often oak panelling, false beams and in larger houses an inglenook fireplace.

The Georgian revival continued from the 1920s, particularly in social housing.

The Moderne style continued to be popular with the avante garde. In the late 1930s the 'Hollywood Moderne' style appeared with coloured pantiles in green or blue.

The Art Deco decorative style was at its peak in the early 1930s, declining towards 1939.


The houses of the Victorian and Edwardian eras have been appreciated for some time. Sadly neglected are those from 1918 to 1945'. They are the classic suburban homes, generally brick-built and semi-detached, with black and white work, and perhaps panels of pebble-dashing.

Little has been documented about them and the architectural pressure groups largely quiet on their merits. This is a tragedy, because in one aspect they have not been 'neglected'; they have been the target of several decades of do-it-yourselfers who have 'improved' them to suit the demands of life in the 60s, 70s and since, but usually without preserving their character.


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