The Home of Tomorrow – 1940’s style
Alistair McLean
Category: Books, Heritage, Home of Tomorrow

1946magOver the years Secret Design Studio has amassed a huge collection of 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s home magazines, such as “Australian House and Garden” and “Australian Home Beautiful”. Occasionally another magazine or plan book falls into our hands, and one such magazine is Penrod’s Publications “The Homemaker’s Book of Plans”. This Australian magazine which was published just after World War 2 provides a fascinating insight into the state of residential design, which had been put on hold during the war, and before the European migrant architects such as Harry Seidler, Anatol Kagan and Ernest Fooks had become influential.


Some of the plans in this publication have a faint whiff of modernism about them, but a lot seem very staid. Many have a strong, traditional, British feel, and most don’t account for our Australian climate in their design. One of the more interesting houses is  called “The Home of To-morrow Designed To-day” , by an unknown architect, and is described as:

“Constructed of face brick and colored cement rendered finish, this home of to-morrow offers something really exclusive in the modern design. Tiles and reinforced concrete are employed for the roof, and ceilings are plastered throughout.

The internal walls to the library portion of the lounge and around the window seat are panelled, and large plate glass windows on ball-bearing runners allow full advantage to be taken of natural light.

The provision of a sun deck, together with separate shower and W.C. compartmnets off stair landings as well as the usual bath and W.C. on each floor, are definite added attractions to this well-planned home.

Particular attention has been given to the first floor bedrooms, the generous use of glass assuring pleasant and healthy living.”

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This design, which is really quite traditional in its layout (note the maid’s room adjacent to the kitchen), actually demonstrates how revolutionary mid-century modern architecture of the 1950’s was, as  a traditional home like this could be promoted as “the home of tomorrow”. We have a lot to thank the likes of Harry Seidler, Anatol Kagan and Ernest Fooks for opening the window to modernism for Australians, with their ideas for smaller, well-designed, compact homes with lighter construction, and open-plan living, and no room for the maid!

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