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What was a home like in the 1930's and how much did they cost

What was a home like in the 1930's and how much did they cost

In the 1930s, home building was a practice that required careful planning. This practice was at least in part regulated by the Federal Housing Administration (F.H.A.). This particular federal organization is one that provided insured loan funding for home builders starting in the year 1934.

Even though home building was regulated during this time, it did not take away from the ability of home builders to plan and design one-of-a-kind homes. The general rule of thumb regarding home building during this time was that the homes could be designed how a person wanted them to be designed.

The major stipulation was that each home had to be built in a way that it would blend in with the rest of the homes in the surrounding neighborhood. The following is an example of the types of homes that were built during this decade:

Three Examples of homes from the Thirties

California Home Example

California Home 30's

English Style home

English style home 30's

Cottage home Montanna

cottage home montanna

Consideration for Home Purchasing Financing

If a person, family, or investor were to receiving financing to buy a home the condition of the home itself would be a major consideration. This could also affect the likelihood that the home would sell as well.

The following are some of the criteria for selling or buying a home in the year 1939:

Sleeping rooms were to be designed to provide considerable amount of privacy for each household member. For example, each room might be required to have a door on it that closes.

Rooms during this time were required to be well-lit and properly ventilated.

Bathrooms should be easily accessible to all members of the household.

Kitchens of home should be designed in a way that makes eating, cooking, food storage, and dish washing easy.

During this time there was to be adequate storage for blankets and linen, cleaning supplies and equipment, as well as space for clothes drying and/or laundry duties (and laundry facilities).

Home Furnishings

These homes included all the right furnishings, such as a foot stool appropriate for the corresponding chair that it would be used for. Other chairs in a home that stands during this decade would usually contain sitting chairs that are just the right height for a person to be comfortable.

Additionally, new trends for making home living more convenient included making sure end tables, lamps, and other furniture would be place in the most convenient location possible. This principle of making living simpler and easier could also be applied to the placing of bedroom furniture as well.

There is a good chance that people in the 1930s considered the proper positioning of bedroom furniture. Likewise, they shopped very carefully and planned the building of their homes very strategically in order to make sure that optimal placement of furniture and conveniences had their own place.

Proving convenient and comfortable living was becoming more important during this time. Furthermore, interior design was essential to making a home look more attractive, especially if it was being entered into a contest to win a prize.

A Typical Kitchen or Living Room Space

In case you are wondering what the interior of a kitchen or living room space would have possibly looked like in the early 1930s you can view these photos below:

living room

The above pictures represent concepts of photos taken from a 1931 Wisconsin Rapids Newspaper. Note however that F.H.A. involvement would have not taken place until the year 1934.

Note: Weather or not the F.H.A. has a positive effect on home improvement is a matter of personal opinion. The above picture is simply meant to display the difference between living room settings from early to late 1930s.

Over the years, home designs and furnishing displays have changed. Tastes in home decorating as well as popularity of home conveniences are continually evolving.

Structure and Conveniences

Those who were building or remodeling their homes in the 1930s would plan for making living easier. For instance, enclosed linen shelves were made to give families a place to store folded and/or pressed linen. In order for clothes sitting in linen shelves to be dust-proof these shelves were usually built with matched or beaded lumber, usually v-shaped.

Houses were made complete with the most up-to-date light fixtures of the times. If a home did not have these already, they could usually be made up-to-date fairly quickly.

For example, hanging shelves were also used during this time period, on which knick-knacks, decorative pottery, or books would sit.


Homes were created to help those-usually women during that time-to do house chores easier. Electric ranges (or gas ones) and electric washers were very popular and built with most homes during these times.

In the 1930s, an electric fan was advertised in a Wisconsin Rapids, WI Newspaper. This was an item that was used quite often to cool homes in warmer weather. Apparently in the year 1931 electric appliances such as this or a coffee or tea pot could be set for a specific time to work while household members are out.

Picture of an Electric Fan Advertisement:

1931 Electric Fan

Sometimes a system called “forced air conditioning” also was installed in homes during this decade, especially in the late 1930s.

Photos of other Electrical Appliances from 1931:

some old 30s appliances

more 1930s appliances

Other electrical appliances that were made for the kitchen in the 1930s include electric ranges (instead of gas), electric washers, and electric ironers. You m ay want to pay particular attention to the vast improvements in cooking ranges and/or ovens from the early to late 1930s.

Comparison of 1931 and 1939 Ranges

 1931 and 1939 ranges photo

Additional Home Conveniences, Such as Running Water or Light

If homes in the 1930s were not always built with the latest in technology they soon would be. Professionals were regularly installing plumbing or light fixtures, water heaters, as well as new kitchen sinks.

The Telephone

Telephone extensions were also advertised quite a bit starting from the 1930s so that people could answer the phone in the kitchen instead of running to the other room to answer it. By the way, this is what telephones looked like back then. Take a look below.

Picture of a 1930s Telephone:

1930s Telephone

Home Security

Take a look at this “Good Finish Hardware” such as this piece below, which appears to be a doorknob and/or lock system for an outside door (most likely a front door). You will learn more about the character of homes when you view the photo of it.

Picture of 1939 Door Knob Fixture

1939 doorknob

What Else you Might Want to Know

Asbestos was used during this time until there was knowledge of its dangerously potential fatal affects. On a lighter note, some of the same brand names of paints that are used today have also been used back then, and linoleum tile floor coverings were a hit.

Some examples of Homes you may have seen for sale in the 30's with prices

1930 Morristown New Jersey

2 family House , 2 car garage, 11 rooms


1930 Morristown New Jersey

5 room family home


1931 Lincoln Nebraska 4 room bungalow with basement , gas , pine finish , full basement


1931 Appleton Wisconsin   

New Modern 5 bedroom Home


1931 Oakland California

8 room english style home 3 bedrooms , electric appliances, large basement


1932 Middleton New York

New house 6 rooms and bath all modern improvements


1932 Appleton Wisconsin

Modern 6 room house attached garage desirable location


1932 Oakland California

English style home 5 big rooms every modern feature garage lawn shrubbery


1932 Lima Ohio   

Modern Bungalow Basement 2 car garage furnace


1933 Mansfield Ohio

Home with 6 rooms including breakfast nook , enclosed porch, water softener, garage


1933 Oakland California

Spanish style House 3 large bedrooms , tile roof , big basement, furnace


1933 Sheboygan Wisconsin

10 acre chicken farm large basement barn and small house


1933 Fitchburg Massachusetts

6 room Cottage, garage and large plot


1934 Oakland California

5 room stucco bungalow , breakfast room , separate garage, delightful location


1934 Mansfield Ohio

Brick built home 5 rooms modern in every respect


1934 Fitchburg Massachusetts

6 room cottage all improvements on 1/2 acre


1934 Sheboygan Wisconsin

7 room house with bath and furnace, double garage and large lot


1935 Oakland California

English Type Home 6 rooms , 3 bedrooms, all electric kitchen, 2 car garage, close to country clubs


1935 Mansfield Ohio

Farm and House with 160 acres with brick built house barns and spring fed water


1935 Lincoln Nebraska

6 room brick bungalow large lot double garage 3 bedrooms den and loft


1936 Oakland California

2 story English home with 3 bedrooms social hall and double garage


1936 Port Arthur Texas

Land for sale in 4 acre lots $200.00 per acre


1936 Mansfield Ohio

6 roomed new house bath and sun parlour


1937 Oakland California

Brand new Moterey Colonial Home 6 rooms willow trees and large plot


1937 Port Authur Texas

5 room Cottage home and bath in town center


1937 Appleton Wisconsin

Lakeside plot on Lake Winnibago 60ft X 200ft


1937 Mansfield Ohio

Colonial Brick Home 6 modern rooms and bath with open fireplace in living room


1938 Appleton Wisconsin

6 room home with full basement and hot water heater and garage


1938 Mansfield Ohio

71 acre farm with 6 room house , electricity and bath and large orchards


1938 Hammond Indiana

5 room house 1 acre plot with electricity


1938 Port Arthur Texas

Lakeshore Property with 4 room home hot water lakeside views double garage


1939 Oakland California

English Cottage 5 rooms and sunroom in restricted area


1939 Mansfield Ohio

5 room modern house large corner plot and double garage


1939 Lincoln Nebraska

6 room bungalow with gas heat 3 bedrooms , oak finish


1939 Sheboygan Wisconsin

Newly built modern home fully insulated built in garage weather stripped new fully fitted kitchen