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!)
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.