How To Renovate A 1930’s Semi Detached House | Jeffery and Wilkes

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How To Renovate A 1930’s Semi Detached House

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1930 semi-detached houses may not have the reputation like that of the previous era’s we have discussed;


But this blog will discuss the key features of a 1930s semi and show you how to make the most of yours!

According to the University of Nottingham, there are more than three million 1930s properties in the UK. The 1930’s in the UK was an era of ups and downs.


The economy was struck by a depression in the early 1930s, but by the start of 1933 employment started to rise, reducing to around 10% unemployment by 1938.

The growth of the 1930s semi house was partly due to new ways of building lots of homes relatively cheaply together with mortgages and low deposits – this meant those now employed could more easily afford to buy a 1930’s semi.

What does a 1930’s Semi Look Like?

1930s houses had a very typical layout with a room off the front hall, a second living room and kitchen at the rear. Upstairs usually had two bedrooms, a small room and a bathroom with a toilet.

What design features stand out in a 1930’s Semi?

The Exterior of a 1930’s Semi

The most popular style of a 1930’s semi tends to be mock Tudor and pale red bricks. Gables are also a distinctive factor in 1930s home



A 1930’s semi front door is usually glass-panelled. Stained glass windows are a main feature of a 1930’s semi. Doorknobs tended to be less decorative than Victorian styles, usually rounded and simple.


Some porches leading up the doors may have had terracotta tiles with a black border.


Bay windows are found in most 1930’s semi houses. Bay windows flood in natural light, still a sought-after design of window now.



Original 1930’s properties would have had a flat roof style; this could be re-done with a pitched roof for a more eye catching design


As mentioned previously, these houses were being built on mass, but also on bigger plots of land, so most 1930’s semis have generous sized gardens and sometimes a garage.

The Interior of a 1930’s Semi

The 1930’s era was known for the ‘Art Deco’ design. Features of ‘Art Deco’ included:
Panelled Crittall windows
First floor Balcony
Detailed tiling
Ceiling coving and window pelmets

Examples of some Art Deco patterns are below. ‘The Great Gatsby’ may come to mind!



Large Rooms

1930s houses have generous proportions – one of the main benefits of owing this type of property.
The interior of a 1930’s semi often has a practical and simple design layout.


This was characteristic of a 1930’s semi, the bathroom and toilet were mostly designed separately, giving the impression of a bigger bathroom. Another distinctive feature would have been original green tiling, hard to find (and perhaps not wanted!) in a home today



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1930’s semi would usually have a wood panelled hall leading to the front door. Parquet flooring was sometimes installed, but most working-class houses had simple wooden floorboards throughout the house, with rugs thrown over.


Pinterest credit @ Walls and Floors 


Lounge Area

It was common the the 1930’s for the front room to be the location for entertaining guests, while the rear sitting room would have been the relaxed area for the family. In a 1930’s semi you would see furnishing such as bur oak table, chimney breast and fireplaces.



People either love or hate the original style of Art Deco fireplaces. Art Décor fireplaces were characterised by simple understated lines were highlighted by the use of reflective chrome, woods and tiles.


Lounge area rooms generally had a plain picture rail in contrast to previous era’s heavily sculpted finishing’s too. The carpets were usually busy and patterned. Wallpaper patterns were floral and abstract geometric styles, and many with again, some Art Deco flair.


In the 1930’s, due to the shift of the social classes, more women were in the kitchen rather than servants. Built in cupboards were common, countertops and a low and deep sink. A number of electrical appliances came on the market too, including toasters and kettles! The kitchen was again separate to the lounge area


How to Modernise a 1930’s Semi

1930’s semis were designed so well that it gives you a lot of options to update the look, but still keep some of the 1930’s facets.


Sometimes, the 1930’s architectural design might just need a bit of a spruce! You already have the lovely stained-glass windows, why not give your front door a fresh lick of paint to compliment the colours?

You could also restore the borders around the windows


The 1930’s gardens open up a lot of opportunities, why not change things up a bit by adding a driveway to your plot? Find some ideas here 

Even better, an old garage can be converted into a extension, such as a study room or library read our blog here


You may be happy with a separate room for the front room, rear sitting room and kitchen, but if you fancy an open-plan layout on the ground floor of your 1930’s semi, then knock down a few walls! The walls are thinner and easy to knock down. Get some advice on what design options you can might be able to make happen. Jeffery and Wilkes would be happy to assist with the architectural planning, read more here

Perhaps the original tiling and wood flooring is of a dark quality – a few simple changes is all you need to need to give the inside of your 1930’s semi a fresh look. Change the 1930’s style wallpaper to lightly coloured painted walls and relay the floor to either a pale parquet flooring, or wooden flooring.


Bay windows let in a lot of wonderful light, but you may wish to keep some privacy. Install shutters instead of blinds and curtains, to retain the property’s natural light instead of the original style heavy curtains.


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Revive your current kitchen by overhauling with a new design. Think about if you are happy with the current size of the kitchen, or if you can knock down a wall to open to a kitchen-dining space. Replace or reduce original built in cupboards for example, to make the kitchen feel less cluttered.


Pinterest credit @Vintage Gal 

Energy Efficient

1930’s Semis can be adapted to keep you insulated for less money. The walls built are cavity walls – brick on the outside, then the walls have a space and either another brick wall or concrete block on the inside. The cavity walls can be filled, which may save you £90 per year in heating bills. This is a great way to modernise the property and be eco-friendly!



There are so many advantages when it comes to a 1930’s Semi. True, the architecture does divide opinion, but the architectural design makes it possible to modernise without jumping through too many hoops.
Now it’s up to you to make the most of your 1930’s Semi property!