Joscelyne Chase

Inter-war period (1918 – 1939)

Joscelyne Chase | 01/02/16   Laura Marszalek

Find out more about the Inter-war period of property

The end of the First World War sparked a huge demand for new housing.

For those who couldn’t afford to buy a house, the Council’s house building programs began in the 1920s. Typically short terraces, these properties were generally built to good standards and had solid walls, cavity if you were lucky, with tile or slate roofs, small gardens front and back, and reasonable sized rooms.

This period had a glamourous and sophisticated style using geometric angular shapes and mirrors, with touches from the Orient, Africa and Egypt. Travel on African safaris was a particular influence of the era, as well as the glamourous side of the silver screen making cocktail cabinets and smoking paraphernalia highly popular.

Bold colours such as silver, black, chrome and white were popular on the walls. Floors were typically plain polished parquet or linoleum in abstract designs or black and white chequerboard tiles. Large rugs were also used as centre pieces of a room.

Female figures holding the ball of a lamp were popular in this period, or glass or chrome lighting.

You can see examples of 1920s housing in Clare Road, Braintree.


The inter-war period moves through to the 1930’s where styles changed a little.

The 1930s saw the introduction of a better class of houses to satisfy the demands of wealthier people who wanted to be home owners. The purpose of these properties was to impress and generally had the following features:

  • -          Cavity walls with damp-proof courses
  • -          Large bay windows
  • -          Stone or rendered front faces (elevations). In some cases the side and rear elevations were rendered (ie decoratively finished), but this depended on the location.
  • -          Decorative gables (the triangular upper walls at the end of roofs)
  • -          Bathrooms with toilets

Lino was widely used as flooring, due to it being hard wearing and very practical. Mottled effect suited most colour schemes. Colour schemes during this period was more subtle than the 20s, using pale greens, pinks and blues, as well as beige and coffee colours. Stained glass was used in the top panel of front windows and in panels in French doors.

Did you know, a three-piece suite was a 1930s invention? Typically, people would have a two or three seat settee with two arm chairs.  

Almost 20 million people went every week to the cinema during the 1930s so this became a big influence on style. People also loved sunbathing and built flat roofs and balconies as sun traps!

You can see examples of 1930s housing in Coggeshall Road, Braintree.