We spend so much time thinking about “what’s next” when it comes to our kitchens, but have you ever wondered, “What came first?” The evolution of the kitchen concept has taken place over hundreds of years. What was once a room hidden from view, and used primarily by servants and house staff, is now often a focal point of our homes; a place where we not only allow guests to roam, but use as the centerpiece of our family gatherings. To illustrate, let’s take a brief look at kitchens through a decade progression:
• 1940s: Utility is the keyword for the kitchen in the ‘40s, with little thought given to anything beyond pure function. It was in the ‘40s that designer and inventor Buckminster Fuller began urging people to think about their living spaces, including their kitchens, differently.
• 1950s: Post-World War II America began seeing many changes, and the kitchen became central to the concept of the nuclear family. Sleek new appliances were marketed to the wife and mother “homemaker,” giving home designers broader opportunities for designing the kitchen as a “family” room.
• 1960s: Creative colors (bright orange, avocado), new motifs (large, splashy flowers) and innovative materials (linoleum) were hallmarks of the 1960s kitchen.
• 1970s: The aesthetics got darker, with wood paneling and heavier cabinetry. Microwave oven technology became more affordable, and more accessible; in 1975 sales of microwave ovens exceeded those of gas ranges for the first time!
Kitchen design has evolved, along with technological innovation and design aesthetics, but what largely drives the way kitchens change is how we use them. We no longer wish to “hide” our food, or the preparation of our food, from others. Further, more members of the household cook—where food was once prepared by staff, then women, today kitchens are utilized by almost everyone living in the home. Not only do we cook in the kitchen, we eat, entertain, read, do homework, or just talk on the phone in the kitchen—the modern kitchen is an extension of our living rooms.
Designing a kitchen today is about so much more than just picking out the right appliances and cabinets. The multitude of decisions that must be made range from form—colors, materials, hardware, lighting—to function—counter height, drawers vs. shelves, convection vs. traditional oven (or both!), childproof corners and edges. We want to help you design your next kitchen, for today, for tomorrow, and for your life. Stop in to Cabinets & Designs and talk to one of our professional designers to get started today.
If you are interested in learning more about how all the rooms in your home have evolved, we would love to recommend a book to you! At Home: A Short History of Private Life is writer Bill Bryson’s (A Short History of Everything, A Walk in the Woods) humorous, informative look at how homes have evolved over the years.