Inside the Ideal Home : The Changing Values of Apartment Living and the Promotion of Consumption in Sweden, 1950-1970

Abstract: This dissertation explores the image of the ideal home in Sweden, an idea closely bound to the spatial dynamics of building norms and the outfitting of the domestic household, from the 1950s through the 1960s. By examining official, commercial, and consumer-cooperative ideals of housing and home, I attempt to understand and analyze correlations between various visions of the ideal apartment home and the social, political, economic, and cultural contexts in which they were conceived during the heyday of the Swedish welfare state. This subject has been extensively researched for the first years of the phenomenon, the 1930s and 1940s, but is relatively ignored for the years following World War II, when the new housing policy was formulated and the Record Years began. The study ends in 1970, when the construction of apartments and the standard of living peaked, followed by a focus on building single-family houses and the questioning of building norms. I argue that the values and visions of an ideal home were expressed in the rhetoric and representations of state, consumer-cooperative, and commercial publications. While scholars have studied individual aspects of this context, I maintain that the interrelationship between them produced a widely circulated vision of domesticity between 1950 and 1970. I highlight how commercial actors—primarily Ikea and the interior design magazine Allt i Hemmet (Everything in the Home)—interacted with state institutions in creating and promoting a discourse of the ideal home.