Modern Kitchens of the Past

in Cabinets & Furniture

Kitchen Range at Wedderburn Castle - Scotland (CC BY-SA 2.0) by ammgramm While I was looking for pictures to accompany a guest post on kitchen design for entertaining, I ran across a few old images that show how kitchens have changed (not so much really) over the past 75 years or so. I’ve selected a sampling of kitchen pictures from the past and a couple of others that caught my interest.

So if you look around your kitchen and think it looks old and out of date, compare it to some of these "modern" kitchens from the past. Clicking on any image will take you to the original flickr photostream where you may find other related images.

Kitchen Range at Wedderburn Castle

The impressive range in the top image is from the kitchen at Wedderburn Castle in Scotland – built in 1771-5. I can’t imagine how much that monster would weigh. Apparently, you and 41 friends can enjoy a stay at this cozy castle – available for weddings and corporate retreats.

General Electric’s "Progressland"

This picture, taken at the New York World’s Fair in 1964-65, is my absolute favourite. I particularly like the octopus of electrical cords dangling over the sink. Yikes!Progressland 1964 (CC BY-SA 2.0) by roger4336

The caption that accompanies the image says:

General Electric Co. had its own pavilion at the New York World’s Fair of 1964-1965. It used the name "Progressland." This is a scene of an American home in the 1920s. At the time, General Electric used the slogan, "Progress is our most important product."

Library of Congress – Kitchens

These were selected from a whole series of pictures labelled as "1920s/1930s kitchens Library of Congress". Many of these look like newly installed kitchens and the specific time periods are best "guessed" by the appliances. The "monitor top" (turret) refrigerator was introduced by General Electric in 1927. The ranges shown seem to be from the 1930s.

The work triangle (CC BY 2.0) by whitewall buick The big sink(CC BY 2.0) by whitewall buick Kitchen with Island (CC BY 2.0) by whitewall buick Kitchen with open centre (CC BY 2.0) by whitewall buick

The thing that stands out to me is the integrated sink and countertop with backsplash (upper right) that shows up in several photos. I assume they are enamelled cast iron, like the bathtubs of that era, and weigh about the same. Some of the kitchens have little to no cabinetry and counters, just the appliances. 

Hybrid Range

Melbourne Kitchen (CC BY 2.0) by NewhaircutThis picture of a stove in an apartment in Melbourne Australia seems to be a (relatively) modern version of the 1930’s ranges in the previous pictures. It’s a bit of a hybrid between a range and a separate cooktop and wall oven – something that never really caught on in North American

I’m pretty sure this kitchen decor wouldn’t have impressed Oscar Wilde.

Small appliances

I tend to think of small countertop appliances as being a "post war" (WWII) invention, but these kitchen pictures from 1939 clearly show a mixer, toaster and (maybe) a waffle iron on the counter. I remember using a toaster like that back in the 1960s.

Stove and ice box (CC BY-SA 2.0) by JustDerek Sink and entrance (CC BY-SA 2.0) by JustDerek

You had to flip down the doors and turn the bread over toast the other side. And you had to stay right there to keep it from burning. The stove looks like it has a metal cover over the burners to use as additional counter space.

The 1950s

1957--Frigidare prototype kitchen (CC BY-SA 2.0) by x-ray delta oneNothing beats looking back at the vision of the future from perspective of the 1950s. Painted steel cabinets, glass bubble rotisserie and endless miles of gleaming chrome. Can you tell from this "space age" prototype kitchen by Frigidaire that their parent company was General Motors?

1953 ... never too much TV (CC BY-SA 2.0) by x-ray delta one Like flying cars, many other concepts from the visionary designers of the 1950s never got off the ground.

If you’re into 1950’s and ‘60s “populuxe” culture you should definitely check out the impressive flickr photostream by x-ray delta one.

Ironically, this last image pretty much brings us back to where we are today – integrating the television into the kitchen so we can watch while we work.

Tweak the layout, update the appliances and cabinets and you have a kitchen that many of us would love to have now.

Images: ammgramm; roger4336; whitewall buick; Newhaircut; JustDerek; x-ray delta one

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: