Ideal homes, 1918–39

Domestic design and suburban modernism

By Deborah Sugg Ryan

Ideal homes, 1918–39


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-6885-0
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £19.99
  • Published Date: March 2018
  • BIC Category: ARCHITECTURE / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945), Architectural Structure & Design, The arts / History of architecture, Art History, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Modernism, History of architecture, European history, Architectural structure & design, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
  • Series: Studies in Design and Material Culture


This book explores the aspirations and tastes of new suburban communities in interwar England for domestic architecture and design that was both modern and nostalgic in a period where homeownership became the norm. It investigates the ways in which new suburban class and gender identities were forged through the architecture, design and decoration of the home, in choices such as ebony elephants placed on mantelpieces and modern Easiwork dressers in kitchens. Ultimately, it argues that a specifically suburban modernism emerged, which looked backwards to the past whilst looking forward to the future. Thus the inter-war 'ideal' home was both a retreat from the outside world and a site of change and experimentation. The book also examines how the interwar home is lived in today. It will appeal to academics and students in design, social and cultural history as well as a wider readership curious about interwar homes.


'A fascinating book, dealing with a range of themes, including class, gender, empire, taste, good design, efficiency and nostalgia, which are linked to the idea of 'suburban modernity' in Britain and its material manifestations in suburban houses and their interiors. Sugg Ryan succeeds in evoking the material culture of a past era which, in certain ways, resonates strongly with our own.'
Professor Penny Sparke, Kingston University


Deborah Sugg Ryan is Professor of Design History and Theory, and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Portsmouth


1 The interwar house: ideal homes and domestic design
2 Suburban: class, gender and homeownership
3 Modernisms: 'good' design and 'bad' design
4 Efficiency: labour-saving and the professional housewife
5 Nostalgia: the Tudorbethan semi and the detritus of empire
6 Afterword: modernising the interwar ideal home

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