KITCHENS OF THE PAST…..
You may not have thought about kitchen history before. That hub of activity and food-making we call ‘the kitchen’ has evolved A LOT in the past 100 years! Australians currently aged in their seventies, eighties, and beyond will remember a time when even such modern kitchen staples as a refrigerator were non-existent. Most housewives in the 1930’s had to rely on a cooler box and regular deliveries of ice to keep their food cool. Ice-cream was a luxury, and frozen meals were a concept that hadn’t even been invented yet!
Kitchen History of the 1930s
Apart from not having a refrigerator or freezer, many kitchens in 1930 still cooked over wood stoves. They definitely didn’t have hot water easily available at the kitchen sink… If the kitchen had a sink! Kitchen history started upgrading to proper plumbing and relatively reliable stoves over the next few decades. By the time the 1950s rolled around, a recognisable version of the modern kitchen had emerged.
Kitchen History of the 1950s
Instead of being poorly thought out and ‘tacked on’, by the 1950s kitchens were beginning to be recognised as integral part of the home. Integrated cabinetry and built-in appliances started to feature in kitchen history designs. Steel cabinets, pastel colours, laminated benchtops, and linoleum flooring were all the rage in the 50s. While ‘open plan’ kitchens hadn’t quite caught on yet. The idea had been put into motion by well known architect of the time, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Kitchen History of the 1960s
Moving on to the 1960s and we found ourselves in a time when television was really starting to influence our lives for the first time. Cooking show hosts such as the famous Julia Childs meant that previously conservative cooks began adventuring into wider, more exotic territory. With this wider cooking repertoire, came the need for more kitchen history evolution in the area of utensils and appliances. And more things to store meant better kitchen storage options within a more functional kitchen design. Also, it was the ‘swingin’ 60s.’ Many kitchens around this time featured bright colours and the occasional psychedelic design!
Kitchen History of the 1970s
By the 70s, bright splashes of colour were out, and more muted tones were in. Golds, browns, and ‘avocado’. By the 1970s microwaves were a ‘must have’. Countless women found newfound freedom from being stuck behind the stove, and embraced the first wave of microwaveable meals. (And yes, in that day and age, the kitchen was overwhelmingly a woman’s domain.)
Kitchen History of the 1980s and 90s
Lumping the 80s and 90s together, they shared many common elements. Wooden cabinets and wooden features were an enduring favourite. It was in the 80s when the idea of energy efficient appliances first began entering into the general public’s understanding. The first stainless steel appliances were available in the 1990s, changing the aesthetic kitchen history yet again.
Across both decades, the average house size steadily increased. So too did the size of the average kitchen. With the general public now embracing truly open-plan kitchens. The humble ‘Cinderella’ room had finally made its full transition into one of the most important spaces in a home.
To connect these descriptions to some visuals, have a scroll through Retro decor: Australian kitchen history by decade. Maybe you’ll see something there that inspires you. Maybe you want to bring the browns, golds, and avocados of the 70s back into your world! It’s your kitchen and it needs to feel like you!