From Functional to Fabulous: Kitchen Trends from 1930-2000

Kitchen trends come and go. Just as we scoff at “harvest gold” refrigerators and wood paneling, future generations will likely sneer at stainless steel appliances and granite countertops.

So bring along your critical restraint as we look at how kitchen trends have evolved over the years. (Except during our discussion of 1970’s kitchens: those hideous cabinets and appliances have earned a little ridicule!)

1930 kitchen

1930s: Checkered linoleum flooring hit it big.

1930’s: Color and Charm

The typical 1930s kitchen was bright and cheery. Linoleum was just coming into style, and a black-and-white checkered pattern was particularly popular. Most homes had refrigerators by this point, but many still employed wood-burning cook stoves. (The adjacent photo is a recreation of Henry Ford’s 1930s-era kitchen at the Henry Ford Museum.)

1940 kitchen

1940s: “The Postwar Splurge”

1940’s: Buy, Buy, Buy

World War II brought home improvement and remodeling projects to a standstill. The postwar era ushered in an explosion of new kitchen technology and a desire to spend. Ads encouraged families to return focus (and spending) to their kitchens in the 1940s.

1950 kitchen

1950s: Wallpaper and colored cabinets ruled.

1950’s: Lively and Limitless

Any color was welcome in kitchen trends of the 1950s, including pastel pink. Cabinet and appliance finishes ranged from wood-tones to white lacquer to blue enamel.

1960 kitchen

1960s: Order plus whimsy = a fun kitchen.

1960’s: Modern Fun

Homes built in the 1960s pursued cleaner lines and sleeker finishes, but maintained a fun, youthful feel. Punches of lime green or vermilion often accented stark white cabinetry and darker countertops.

1970 kitchen

1970s: A complete reversal from the light-hearted spark of the 1960s kitchen.

1970’s: Let’s Get Serious

Kitchens matured in the 1970s. Cabinet finishes darkened, and Formica countertops gradually replaced tile. Colorful appliances were still popular, but darker, more austere colors took over: drab green, sad brown, and downcast gold (okay, these aren’t the real color names, but these hues were seriously anti-cheer).

1980 kitchen

1980s: Cabinets go lighter, appliances normalize.

1980’s: Light at the End of the Tunnel

The 1980s saw a gradual lift in kitchen spirits. Cabinet stains became lighter (light oak became extremely popular), and appliance colors returned to some sense of normalcy (white, black, and ivory).

1990 kitchen

1990s: Kitchens become an entertaining space.

1990’s: An Entertaining Space

Homes and kitchens swelled through the 1990s. With the growth in size came an added function for the kitchen: entertaining/gathering space. The kitchen became the place where casual events were hosted, families recalled the day’s happenings, and more meals were prepared. Spacious islands served as the home’s “water cooler”, and became essential elements for the 1990s kitchen.

2000 kitchen

2000s: Gimme gimme gimme.

2000’s: We Want it All

There was no room for compromise in the kitchen of the 2000s. Latest appliances? Undoubtedly. Hottest countertop material? Can’t live without it. Brand new cabinets? Wouldn’t consider anything less. Early 21st century builders capitalized on easy financing and gave homeowners everything they wanted in a kitchen.


Home buyers: What do you want in your kitchen?

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