The History of Kitchens

// General

The Kitchen.

A home’s epicenter.

It’s the room where families gather to talk about their day. Where loved ones catch up on life while cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. The kitchen is truly the heart of the home. The way we view, and use, kitchens today has drastically evolved over the course of history.

Imagine a place where only servants and slaves worked. In Colonial times, the dining and living areas were located far from the meal prep areas. Due to smells and interaction with servants, the kitchen was viewed as an area where one did not want guests. Even in less privileged households the kitchen was typically in a secluded area in the back of the house.  It served as a modern-day mudroom, work space, and prep area. Even a completely detached “Summer Kitchen” used for canning, and to prepare meals for farm workers was a popular feature on homesteads of this era.  They were far from the era of “open concept homes”.

Cabinetry was not a concept introduced into a home until the late 1800s. Lack of storage demanded a solution, which The Hoosier Manufacturing Company embraced. They created a free standing storage unit with all the bells and whistles. It included a small countertop space, drawers, and doors for storage. These were popular until the late 1920’s when kitchen cabinets as we know them today began to be fabricated.

In the 1930’s and 40’s the kitchen became a source of pride. In 1940’s the Golden Triangle, also known as, the “Work Triangle” was introduced.  The “Work Triangle” concept was referenced to arrange the most used objects in the kitchen (sink, oven and refrigerator) in a more efficient layout. This layout was recommended to reduce excessive steps and walking during meal preparation. (Fit-Bit competitions with friends were not a thought).

The 1950’s and 60’s brought a bold new look into kitchens with vibrant colored appliances. Previously, appliances were only manufactured in white.  A homeowner could now begin to show their “true colors” with the addition of powder pink, harvest gold, and avocado green, to name a few.

Kitchen design evolved into a largely customizable concept through the 1970’s and 80’s. The 80’s brought an understanding that the kitchen was not simply used to prepare a meal, but used as the main gathering hub for family and friends. Kitchens were becoming larger, and more open to other rooms in the home.  Into the 1990’s kitchen sizes grew larger and larger, and became a growing source of pride as a “trophy room” to showcase in the home.  Warm oak stains and rich cherry woods were popular throughout the 90’s, and nearly every kitchen was equipped with a laminate countertop.

The 21st century created a wide range of resources for knowledge and design ideas. Television shows like Trading Spaces and Extreme Home Make Over were a couple of the highest rated shows on television. Showing the average homeowner the process of designing a space, and getting the viewer excited about new ideas was all the rage. Design websites and information were at the fingertips of remodelers to help design their dream kitchen. 

 Continuing into the 2010’s kitchen functionality, increased storage systems, and maintenance free countertops are popular in modern kitchens. Clean cool neutrals have become increasingly popular over rich warm tones.  

When it comes to kitchen design, selections and choices are personal.  Trends will come and go, so the best advice is to have a kitchen that is best suited for your design tastes and for the functionality of your family in the years to come.