When it comes to interior fashion in our home, the changing kitchen through the decades just has to be the outright leader. From the advent of speckled Formica table tops to smart textured granite counters and stand-alone kitchen islands, the place where we prepare food – and more often than not – eat it, sets the trend every time.
And that’s why we find the changing kitchen through the decades one of our favourite subjects to write about. See exactly what we’re talking about – and why – in this chronological countdown of the changing kitchen through the decades:
Dishwasher helps clean up decades of kitchen drudgery
1920s – although it isn’t until the 1980s that many of us get one, the dishwasher actually first makes an appearance here (in America) and so too does the easy-wipe enamel version of the cooking stove. Things are starting to look up for the housewife! During this exciting decade she can also embrace the novelty of the toaster, coffee percolator and waffle iron.
1930s – this decade is more about kitchen furniture than time-saving appliances. The layout of the kitchen is no longer about a series of separate items; worktops are introduced to unite the space between, for example, the cooker and sink. These worktops are made from stainless steel so they can be easily wiped down. Happily, for the housewife, the floors are also wipe-clean linoleum.
The washing machine makes its first appearance
1940s – in terms of the changing kitchen through the decades, this particular era is the one in which the biggest time-saving appliance of all is introduced (although at this stage it is still in its infancy). The washing machine and wringer sparks the concept of ‘Monday Wash Days.’ In terms of kitchen layout, the banquet becomes popular – especially in America. It takes a little more time to reach British shores, however.
1950s – This is the era of the fridge and box freezer. It is, in fact, the fridge many of us will recognise today with its glass shelves, individual compartments and crisper drawers. That’s because it’s design really hasn’t changed that much over the past century. Yes, it’s got bigger and dispenses ice cubes from a door, but it is instantly recognisable.
At the same time, electric cookers become all the rage. Fitted kitchens too are popular with customised cabinetry. It’s no surprise then that the kitchen becomes a social area for families to hang out in.
1960s – in this decade it’s all about design. Gold and green (avocado) are the kitchen go-to colour shades, while the shape of the kitchen switches from rectangular and open plan to U-shaped and ‘open.’
Both sexes learn to embrace the microwave oven
1970s – possibly the biggest revolution in our kitchens over the past century comes into being in this decade: the microwave oven. This latest time-saving appliance lets us cook within minutes and heat in seconds! Interior-wise, it’s all about bright Formica covered cabinets and cupboards; countertops are plain wood (for necessary artistic ‘balance’).
1980s – this decade is all about the sweet ‘country’ look with pale wooden tables and worktops and curtains with a ditsy pattern.
Granite countertops add a welcome gravity to the changing kitchen through the decades
1990s – Hello granite countertops! Meanwhile the Farmhouse theme in the kitchen replaces the by-now unfashionable Country look. Kitchens in this decade are all about white cabinets, open shelving and even cute Knick knacks picked up on holiday.
Noughties – beige becomes the big kitchen colour, not just of the day, but the decade. It’s relaxing, neutral – and it’s everywhere. Big fridges and range cookers make an appearance as cooking becomes a favourite pastime. Fridge doors dispense ice.
Neutral coloured cabinets introduce kitchen sophistication
2010s – Reclaimed wood for floors, neutral coloured cabinets and marble countertops, today’s kitchens are sophisticated. They’re also filled with smart appliances to tell us when, for instance, we need to restock our fridge. We can also control our ovens remotely and we have undercabinet and baseboard LED lighting to add ambience and help us carry out tasks such as cut vegetables and read recipes on our smartphone. It really is all happening in the kitchen…
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