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Just for fun... representative kitchens of the decades

ediblekitchen
May 28, 2015

We talk a lot about how kitchens date themselves and I thought it would be an interesting exercise to assemble pictures of kitchens that represent various decades. To see what how they evolved over time and how styles changed. And perhaps to see if there are elements that seem timeless or have reemerged as stylish. I'll start by posting some that I found. Please join in and post ones, too.

1920s - check out that farm sink!


1930s - more built in cabinets and space for eating

1940s - patriotic colors

1950s - love the copper hood

1960s - looks like a waterloxed wood countertop

1970s - Avocado Green!


Comments (69)
  • Lavender Lass

    My mom has a stool. She likes to sit, while she's peeling apples. I have to find a place for that...because she makes wonderful apple pie :)

    One of my favorite vintage kitchens!



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  • funkycamper

    I've never had an island or other seating in or near my kitchen that uses stools but I've always had a stool in my kitchen. In my previous home I stored it in the walk-in pantry when not in use. The house before that, I stored it in my next-door laundry room when not in use. In my current kitchen, there will be a spot right in the kitchen where it can sit out of the way when it'snot needed. I can't imagine not having a nearby stool. If I've been on my feet a lot that day and have a lot of peeling to do or when slicing hair-thin garlic slices, I pull out my breadboard and sit on the stool. Or I might just rest on it for a few seconds while stirring something on the stove or while reviewing a recipe or whatever. Very hand. My advice, if you don't have one, get one!

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  • stephanj

    I have a vintage chrome stool with the fold-out steps waiting to go in my new kitchen. I call it my "thinking chair"....the family fights over who gets to sit on it.

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  • writersblock

    I love that kitchen, too, lavender_lass. Here's the image of the Ladies Home Journal ideal kitchen for 1924, as requested from the other thread:


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  • writersblock

    Also, here's a list from Good Housekeeping in the early 1920s of everything your kitchen should have to be properly equipped:


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  • Fori

    No pictures, Gingin. It's not done and never will be. :P

    Is it time to share cooking tips?


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  • Bunny

    Oh, we had a kitchen stool too, the kind with some steps that came out. It usually sat in the corner of the breakfast nook, which was also the lunch and dinner nook.

    ediblekitchen thanked Bunny
  • tanowicki

    I love the pull-out trays in the 1950s kitchen. A place to eat without taking up counter space.

  • ediblekitchen

    "Cauliflower, one to two hours" Yikes!

    I dearly love old cookbooks and have a collection of them, ranging from the 1900s to the 1940s. Food styling has really changed significantly, just like kitchen design.

  • ediblekitchen

    Ok, here's a kitchen from the early 70s that I bet a lot of people will recognize:


  • funkycamper

    Yikes, is right. Most of those vegetables would be mush. And all the vitamins in the water. Too funny!

    ETA: How did Alice cook for 9 people with NO counter space?

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  • gingingirl2007

    The one thing I never understood in Alice's setup was the brick opening next to the wall oven. What was that used for?

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  • stephanj

    I remember that kitchen looking HUGE to me when I was a kid, lol...looks dinky by today's TV standards.

    I need an "Alice..."

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  • cookncarpenter

    The brick niche is an indoor BBQ. I remember many homes in our neighborhood with them.

    Must have been a So Cal thing mid '50s - mid '60s

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  • javiwa

    Hmmmm....60s/70s SoCal gal here - don't ever remember coming across one of those in any homes I ever stepped foot into.

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  • desertsteph

    yikes! my avocado fridge wasn't that bright (70s kit above)

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  • Kimberly N


    Another famous tv family kitchen ... I can hear a realtor now ... declutter, declutter!

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  • ediblekitchen

    Ah ha! Here's a photo of the kitchen stool in action:

    It doesn't seem very efficient to work like this.

  • ediblekitchen

    Kimberly, you've stumped me!

  • javiwa

    My mom's kitchen (in which she cooks to this very day) has such minimal prep space (if it exceeds 2 sq ft of counter space, I'd be shocked -- and 1 sq ft is taken up by a wooden chopping block that sits out), the kitchen table (as shown above) forever served as her prep area. No stool, but just one of the kitchen chairs. I think she'd get lost in most of the modern kitchens with their expanse of countertops and work zones.

  • Kimberly N

    Re: Stool -- imagine how much prep cooking took, how many mouths she had to feed, and how much more time a woman was pregnant ... My grandmother had a tall kitchen stool that she used all the time for talking on the phone, decorating cakes, any chopping she had to do.

  • mrspete

    Several thoughts:

    - Compared to modern kitchens, these have so much pattern! From checkered floors to wallpaper to color, these kitchens include personality that seems to have been drained away from today's resale-and-don't-let-us-appear-dated-at-any-cost kitchens.

    - Perhaps the kitchen stool disappeared as processed foods became a common thing. I mean, peeling a bunch of potatoes for dinner -- or worse, preparing fruits and veggies to be canned -- is a lengthy process. But who'd want to sit down to pop a frozen lasagna into the oven or drop a few components into the crock pot?

    - Note that the first picture shows a breezy, open window above the sink and shows the lady of the house at a door that appears to open onto an enclosed porch. In those pre- air conditioning days, they were showing that the kitchen could be kept cool. And don't miss her old-fashioned phone ideally placed by the door, with a chair for her comfort.

    - The 1970s kitchen is definitely showcasing the appliances. They're shown more bright than they were in real life, and the ad places them in such a way that they're really "front and center" (even though the focus on appliances is forcing this kitchen into a horrible layout). There'd be a reason: the 1970s were a time when these new, upscale appliances were available to middle-class people, so they really were the focus of the kitchen.

    - I had long wondered about that empty brick space in the Brady's kitchen. If these pictures are representative, though, Alice wasn't alone in lacking counterspace. It doesn't abound in any of these pictures; however, it's also fair to point out that most of these pictures were intended to sell something (i.e., appliances or blue-checkered floors), so the advertisers wouldn't have pushed counterspace.

    - Edible, Kimberly's brought out the Huckstable's kitchen from The Cosby Show. I used to think that kitchen was LOVELY, but seeing it now all I can think is, "Why would people so rich have those ugly cabinets?" And, yes, the 80s were all about clutter! Actually, some of those other pictures are considerably more cluttered than I'd prefer. I'm not into hanging everything I own on the walls; I don't mind opening a drawer or going into the pantry!

    - As for timeless items, the #1 thing I see in these pictures is the sink-window combination. Almost all these kitchens place them together, and I think that's "a rule" so iron-clad that many people today literally don't even consider anything else.

    - I note few glass-front cabinets across the time spans, yet they're all the rage today.

    - One item that I think is rare (and it only appears once in these pictures), yet we all claim to LOVE IT ... is the in-kitchen seating booth. So cozy.


    Fun thread!

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  • Kimberly N

    Hint: Cliff and Clair

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  • javiwa

    ...these kitchens include personality that seems to have been drained away from today's resale-and-don't-let-us-appear-dated-at-any-cost kitchens. -- I'd bet that previous generations didn't move around as much as our generation does; therefore, resale value wasn't nearly the priority it is today. And the mentality was largely different: appliances, etc. got replaced/updated when they broke down. Matching the replacement to existing appliances was just not a big deal.

  • ediblekitchen

    Mrspete, great observations! And javiwa, another thing to add is that those appliances lasted far longer and even if they did break down, they were probably repaired more often than they were replaced.

  • Lavender Lass

    Now, here's one of my favorite TV kitchens...and one of my favorite TV couples :)


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  • ediblekitchen

    Yes, looks like a semi built in refrigerator!


  • writersblock

    One item that I think is rare (and it only appears once in these pictures), yet we all claim to LOVE IT ... is the in-kitchen seating booth. So cozy.

    The kitchen nook was all the rage in the 20s, but when built-in cabinets came in and the fridge moved right into the kitchen (in the 20s you wanted it accessible from the porch so the ice man didn't have to come into the house proper), they got ripped out because people wanted the space back. If you look at house designs from the 20s, they always squeeze in a nook.

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  • suzanne_sl

    Just happen to have photos of an original 1964 kitchen that hasn't been updated ever as far as I know. This kitchen was evidently used in the model home for the subdivision for the first 3 years of its life, so probably represents the "must haves" of 1964. The last photo is the wall to the right of the rest of the kitchen. That pantry has sheets of linoleum for shelf liner. (I'll be asking for design help here before too very long :-)


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  • funkycamper

    In defense of the stool, I don't use mine daily. But it's sure a nice option if I've been on my feet a lot and am doing a task that can be done sitting comfortably. You do need knee space and I have always had pull-out bread boards in all my kitchens. My largest one is 30" wide and makes a nice place to pull up a stool and work. And it's very ergonomic when you have a pull-out counter for that precious knee space. There are a few tasks where I almost always pull out the stool because I think it actually makes those tasks easier like when I'm slicing tissue-paper thin slices of garlic. Or when I'm decorating a cake/sugar cookies/cupcakes. Or icing a layer cake. For some reason, I seem to be in a better position to maintain control for that kind of fine work when I'm sitting then when I'm standing. Maybe it's just me because I tend to be a bit klutzy. I will occasionally use it when peeling a LOT of potatoes but it's not worth it for just a few. And it really comes in handy when I'm canning. I also have a hip that can randomly give me trouble if I'm standing in one place too long. Not often but when it flares up, the stool is my favorite thing!

    So don't diss the stool!!! :)

    ediblekitchen thanked funkycamper
  • javiwa

    edible: absolutely! My mom JUST got rid of her pink enamel wall oven a few years ago (lasted 50+ years!), and I don't ever recall my dad ever having to repair it once. (The timer pooped out a while back, but that certainly didn't justify purchasing a brand new oven.) However, he did routinely fix everything else on his own, easily repairing faulty parts. These days, malfunctioning electronic components just leave us staring, blinky-eyed.

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  • Lavender Lass

    As for the very cute 1920's banquette/nook...my friend had one. They are made for children and very small, very skinny people! LOL

    I think if there was an extra few inches between table and bench....and on the bench seat itself...people would not have ripped them out. Well, maybe not as often :)


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  • chelwa

    Going back a little farther.....

    1850's


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  • perky_2

    great thread!!! My fav is the one lavender_lass posted - would take that one today!

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  • iroll

    There is something so soothing about this kitchen photo, which was taken to illustrate electric light in a kitchen: ELECTRICITY-CONSUMPTION, FEMALES, EXHIBITIONS


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  • ljwrar

    I would happily take the 1930s or 1940s kitchens posted by ediblekitchen. Here is our almost original 1931 kitchen.



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  • gingingirl2007

    ljwrar, very, very nice!

  • Lavender Lass

    Ljwrar- I like your kitchen! So many great details with the scallops, tile work and those little drawers...and a pull-out cutting board. Very nice :)

  • rebunky

    Ljwrar, that kitchen is adorable! Please tell us what that little cabinet is to the right of the sink. Is it a can opener under?

    Ediblekitchen, what a fun post. Love all these!

    Growing up in the 70's, our house had a mix of the avocado green appliances, harvest gold color sink and Formica counters with a lovely brown and gold linolium. The retro table with some floral pattern vinyl chairs (green, gold, and orange colors) was in the center of the kitchen. Our dial up wall telephone was even avocado green to match. My mom tied it all together with her mushroom canisters and Corelle pattern dishes and bakeware. It was awesome! I think it was built in 1974.

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  • cookncarpenter

    A photo my Dad shot of the kitchen in their newly built home, 1950

    Marcolo would be impressed... ice, water, stone, fire ;)

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  • bob_cville

    Another older kitchen. The basement kitchen of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.



    This device next to the fireplace uses a weight to slowly turn a rotisserie in the fire place.


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  • sjhockeyfan325

    I love that rotisserie (I'm not really a fan of old kitchens, other than to look at in photos, however).

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  • mrspete

    ljwrar, I'm also wondering about that metal piece under the cabinet.

    Know what we DON'T see in these pictures? It comes to mind because it's what I don't have in my own 1960s kitchen: Ample electrical outlets.

    I have only two outlets in my whole kitchen, and one is dedicated to the microwave, and it's a constant aggravation for me -- especially since cell phones came into our lives. Yet when my kitchen was built, two probably seemed "just right".

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  • Jennifer Weinman

    cookncarpenter - update the appliances in that 1950s kitchen to 1985, and you have my current kitchen, layout and everything. In some ways it's great, and in some ways, it's awful.

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  • ljwrar

    Rebunky and mrspete, we added the small cabinet for filtered water. The metal thing is a wall mounted glass filler faucet, and the filter is mounted in the cabinet. This cabinet mimics the built-in ironing board across the room, which was shortened to allow for more counter space.




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  • Amber

    Ljwrar I'm infatuated with your kitchen!!! It's so similar to the look I'm going for. So beautiful.

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  • ljwrar

    mrspete, we had one usable outlet when we moved in. We eventually had several added around the room.


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  • writersblock

    As far as outlets in the kitchen, if you want to see something scary (and normal, for the time) take a close look overhead at the beautiful image in iroll's link.

    When I was searching around for info on the rancho range, I found a doodad that Westinghouse sold in the 50s that let you plug in up to five appliances at one time into one outlet.

    EDIT ljwar, I love your kitchen!

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  • funkycamper

    @ljwrar - That filter cabinet is so clever and darling. Your whole kitchen is darling.

  • ljwrar

    Thank you everyone for the compliments!

    Amber, not to hijack the thread, but if this is the look you are going for, you may want to check out "Bungalow Kitchens" by Jane Powell. On my copy, the kitchen on the cover looks a lot like mine. It looks like the cover was changed on later versions.

    http://www.amazon.com/Bungalow-Kitchens-Jane-Powell/dp/1423607538

    Here are more photos of my kitchen, if anyone is interested.

    http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/2705950/vintage-kitchen-update

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