During the optimistic 1950s, the idea of the modern home is born in Sweden: light, comfortable and flexible, with space for the whole family. The TV makes its entrance at the end of the decade, while the furniture becomes increasingly airy, light and functional.

IKEA takes inspiration from the simple, functional furniture of Danish design, in woods like teak and mahogany, and starts collaborating with several leading Scandinavian designers. Many customers now throw out their heavy legacy furniture like massive sofas and sideboards.

Folkhemmet needs refurnishing with modern furniture that combines Scandinavian craftsmanship with the sweeping streamlined shapes of the space age. This is also when the family room is born, a place where the whole family can spend time together in a natural way, with the new TV set front and centre.

A room with dining table and four chairs, model FORUM, on a red rug. Along the wall, a sideboard with sloping legs.
Bedroom with two parallel beds with half-height headboards, bedside tables and makeup corner; all in brown wood in a simple, austere style.
Pin-back chair with armrests and a futuristic desk, model SCRIBO, with L-shaped legs and a built-in shelf on a carpet.
A coffee table surrounded by an armchair and sofa, model SORÖ, in functional style. Table and seating details in brown wood.
The 1950s catalogues show whole interiors with light, functional furniture that’s clearly inspired by the acclaimed Danish furniture craftsmanship of the time. Neat sofa suites, elegant small desks and cosy beds with comfortable Latex mattresses reveal the spirit of the times. Images from IKEA catalogues: 1. 1957 2. 1959 3. 1959 4. 1959.

As the national economy flourishes, the standard of living in Sweden increases. Homes become larger and more well planned, with more rooms and functional kitchens. More and more apartments have bathrooms with a toilet and bathtub, plenty of natural light and a shared laundry room in the basement.

Home furnishing also becomes more coordinated with comfortable seating groups, low coffee tables and practical shelving systems. The old sofa bed is replaced by cosy beds with comfortable Latex mattresses. Rugs and other textiles with modern patterns bring it all together.

Living room with suite, TV and a cohesive combination of bookcases, drawer units and desk along the walls.
The drawing room has become a living room with comfy furniture, where family and friends can get together and watch what’s on the exciting new television set. Image from IKEA catalogue 1959.

The IKEA catalogue offers young families handy furnishing tips. At the same time, a well thought-out range for children and young people is emerging. In Älmhult, customers can view and try the products and order them for home delivery.

IKEA is starting to develop, with furniture that feels contemporary and has a low price. It’s an exciting, optimistic time with new gadgets, furniture and approaches to home furnishing.

Clothes and toys in a wide wardrobe, model TOY, with blue doors on either side and a mid-section with shelves, no door.
A SPORT bunk bed, with A-shaped headboards. The top bunk is neatly made, the bottom has no mattress or linen.
A chair by a piece of storage furniture with a desktop in the middle, all in light, functional style. A red and a blue rug on the floor.
A bed with bedspread in broad brown and white stripes and a frame of brown wood. At the foot end is a wall-mounted shelf.
The young family has more and more freedom of choice. Practical, flexible furniture like bunk beds, spacious wardrobes and room dividers create matching total solutions, with everything from modern patterned rugs, to lamps and curtains in bright, colourful styles. Images from IKEA catalogues: 1. 1958 2. 1959 3. 1957 4. 1959.

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