chapter  8
34 Pages

Changing visions of the ideal and the real: the consumption of home furnishings in the twentieth century

For many people during the twentieth century, home has continued as a site of privacy and individuality, a refuge and a comfort from outside life, and a place of mediation between public and private spaces. The question of identity raises fundamental and contradictory issues in this consideration of the home in the twentieth century. The idea that the home represented the family, and in particular the female who ran it, was already established in the nineteenth century. The twentieth century saw the full flowering of home furnishings as a mass business but also as a source of conflict and confusion. A large number of people have discovered the joys of personal furnishing and most of the educational propaganda affecting the general public has encouraged the idea of self-expression in the choice and arrangement of furniture. Social scientists saw that improvements in home furnishings were only part of a wider programme of change that was rooted in educational improvements.