Color Palettes by Decade
It is extremely hard to summarize an entire decade with five or six colors, but each of the past
5 decades seemed to carry a common tune. The end to the war-time lack of color in the 50's. The
explosion of color in the hippie loving 60s. The muted colors of the 70's to balance out the brightness
of the previous decade... etc. Here we will attempt to capture colors common for each decade
for reference purposes in the restoration process and for period correctness.
With World War II just ending, and comfort finally becoming familiar again, it was time to really end
the Great Depression emotionally. The economy was booming, thanks to women showing equality
in the work place, and the manufacturing needs of the war. Just as the surfacing of new technologies
and chemical advances entered the domestic market, allowing for a broader range of colours
for homes inside and out, so surfaced a new optimism, as settling down was an almost dream-like
ideal. As optimism might inspire, it seemed it was finally safe to use brighter colours. Oranges,
bolder blues, teals, and bright white found their ways into and onto homes.
As pride and optimism gave way, rebellion and self-discovery began. Characterized by experimentation
and exploration, the 1960s saw everything from civil disobedience to a government-funded lunar landing.
It was the start of the revolution against gender and sex, the birth of rock and roll. With the clashing of
attitudes and politics, and a new war on the rise, the 1960s might have been the most adventurous
yet as both unrest and happiness met with collision.
When the 1970s burst in colour ... well, it didn't really burst at all. It almost seemed a gut reaction to its
louder neighbouring generation that it would draw from the environment and different cultures for
subtle tones. Essentially giving birth to earth tones, the 1970s left us all with wood paneling, brown
couches (crossed with darker brown, glittering gold, and soft yellow plaid), and and lots of brown yarn
lamp shades. The era itself seemed to want to turn back to nature, to step out of all of the chemicals,
the Viet-nam war, and anger all together.
Being the next population boom after the Baby Boomers of fame, the 1980s gave birth itself to new
familiarity. Black and white came back as striking as ever. Teals, reds, and oranges stepped up almost
as high as the hair styles. At home, the 1980s kept the ideals of the 1970s in mind in terms of the
colours being soothing and comforting.
Television shows began to revolve around true friendships, superficiliaty, and taboo subjects all the more
during the 1990s. Reality television shows surfaced from MTV. It was a time that revitalised pop culture as
well as the interest in and awareness of social differences. It was the first media-based revolutionary
generation, and the first acknowldged surfacing of teenage angst. Television itself had become so widely
popular in the home, and the internet and computers were well on their way.
This is just a beginning sampling of this resource. We'll be adding more information and palettes in the future.
If you would like to submit a retro color sample/palette resource please feel free to contribute.