Kitchens through the Ages

From on July 16, 2009 in Kitchen Remodel

While I certainly can’t (and won’t) claim to have been a witness to this, kitchens have had a distinct style from one decade to the next and they’ve made tremendous changes from the 1950s to today. kitchen-years-50s.jpg In the 1950s America was in the post-war era and many families were living in tighter quarters than they were before tightening their belts during WWII. The 1950s kitchen was small but vibrant and new, with a positive outlook on the world, finances, and technological advances. Galley or tight U-shaped kitchens were common with painted cabinets, Formica countertops, and brightly colored appliances, wall coverings and accessories to liven the place up. Influences at this time were fun and festive things like rock ‘n roll, jukeboxes, Elvis, and poodle skirts. kitchen-years-60s.jpg The 1960s found Americans thinking more about the environment—in color at least. The 1960s kitchen was larger and airier than from 10 years prior, but was more somber in décor. Hues of yellow, green, and brown started to make their way into cabinetry, countertops, tiles, and appliances. More natural materials were used in the kitchen, like wood, brick, and stone. Because homes were starting to get bigger, the kitchens were able to expand as well and American families in the 1960s were using their kitchens for entertaining more and more. kitchen-years-70s.jpg By 1970 Americans were not only entertaining more, they were interested in modern convenience. In this decade microwaves and dishwashers became a part of many kitchens. Still into earth tones, homeowners in the 70s brightened it up a bit and while harvest gold and avocado green were still popular, so was sunshine yellow, Kermit green, and bright orange. Some 1970s kitchens were considered “funky” with their psychedelic-patterned wallpapers, wall art, and plastic furniture. kitchen-years-80s.jpg By the 1980s, American families were getting comfortable in their split-level and bi-level homes and were taking decorating much more seriously. Flat-panel, painted, and laminated cabinetry gave way to solid woods in warm hues of honey, cherry, and even pickled pink stains. Laminates for the countertop started coming in hundreds of options and the gold-flecked white Formica top of the previous decade were replaced with laminates of varied colors and patterns. Likewise the furniture of the 1980s kitchen was much more practical as well, returning to sturdier wooden tables and chairs. (Too bad we weren’t so practical with our hairstyles then!) kitchen-years-90s.jpg Kitchens in the 1990s lightened up a bit. Colors became brighter again, with lighter stained cabinetry and greater emphasis on bright and white walls and accents. The typical 1990s kitchen had an island—the great new home addition. The kitchen island allowed the hostess-slash-cook to entertain family members and guests while preparing meals and really allowed the kitchen to become the focal point of the home. While the cabinets were still solid wood and sturdy in construction, homeowners were experimenting with painting just doors and drawers or just the frames to add character. The 1990s were a decade of experimenting in uniqueness and it seemed no two kitchens were the same. kitchen-years-00s.jpg In the new millennium it was inevitable that kitchens take on a new design route as well. Opulence seems to be key today, with homeowners using their kitchens as a way to show their status. Solid wood cabinets are now often topped with richer materials like marble, granite, or synthetic stone. The linoleum floors that stood the test of time for many decades in America have nearly all been replaced with wood or tile. Since being green is also important to the modern family, the kitchen of today often houses many modern and energy-saving appliances such as a compactor, efficient dishwasher and refrigerator, and instant hot water faucets. Gadgets are also very popular and items like rice steamers, bread makers, and other time-saving devices are typically seen on countertops. It’s clear to see that kitchen styles have changed immensely since the 1950s. What’s more, the way we think about our kitchens as well as why and how we use them has evolved greatly as well. What used to be a small portion of the home reserved strictly for preparing three square meals for loved ones has grown into a hub of socialization and activity and a showroom of modern convenience as well.