Vintage Kitchens of the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s
1930s: The Steam-lined -Depression Era “Modern Kitchen”
By the 1930’s, the kitchen was being transformed from the old fashioned kitchen to the “Streamlined-Modern Kitchen” with time saving features, better organization and much improved ventilation. The “all-electric kitchen” was promoted in popular magazines with numerous advertisements showing newly designed small and major appliances. Mixers were the homemakers dream now designed with numerous attachments that could sift flour, mix dough, grate cheese, squeeze lemons, whip potatoes, shred, slice and chop vegetables and even sharpen knives. “Depression Green” was the “in” color used on the wooden handles of kitchen utensils, on kitchen cabinets and tables and on kitchen wares. Often accessories were cream and green replacing the white and black look of the previous decades.
Other popular color combinations in the 1930s were Gray and Red or Crimson, Silver and Green, Pearl Pink and Blue, as well as the use of checkered patterns on textiles. Kitchen wares such as canisters and Bread boxes tended to be softly painted with perhaps a simple decal.
In 1935 the National Modernization Bureau was established to promote modernization throughout the country. Manufacturers competed for better designed appliances and kitchen accessories. Color began to enter the kitchens of the thirties and articles in magazines featured decorating tips on color schemes and how to incorporate the kitchen into the rest of the home. Kitchens were no longer work stations but gaining as much attention as the rest of the home. Small and large appliances were available in color and Sears and Montgomery Ward featured colorful kitchen wares and “japanned” accessories such as canister sets, range sets, cake savers, bread boxes and waste baskets.
1940s: The Postwar Colorful Era
success. Vinyl was used for tablecloths
The Post War kitchen of the 1940’s began to become family gathering places and now tables and chairs made of chrome bases with enamel, linoleum or plastic tops could be added to a more spacious kitchen which replaced the smaller work centered earlier kitchens. Separate formal dining rooms were being replaced by kitchens that could accommodate the family and guests. The kitchen was becoming a very inviting space and primary colors dominated the interior décor palette. Magazines advertised products for your “Gay Modern Kitchen”. Combinations of red, green and yellow or red and black were popular as well as brightly colored tablecloths, textiles and curtains. Flowers, fruits and Dutch motif were in vogue and found on shelving paper, trim, decals and kitchenwares. Appliances continued to be produced with streamlined designs, rounded corners and smaller proportions. The combination washer/dishwasher was introduced as well as the garbage disposal and freezers for home use.
1950s: The Atomic Era-Pastel Color-Space Age
Dramatic changes would occur in the kitchens of the 1950’s as space age, atomic era designs and materials entered the scene. The fifties kitchen featured plastics, pastel colors such turquoise or aqua, pink and yellow (cottage colors), Formica and chrome kitchen table and chair sets matched formica kitchen counters and were easy to keep clean with messy little ones. After the war there was more time for leisure promoting kitchenware’s and accessories for picnics, barbecues, parties and the home bar.
The introduction of color T.V. in the 1950s brought full color into America’s living rooms where homemakers could now see all the exciting products and appliances available to them. Following World War II, there was a new generation of plastics and time for “gracious living” and entertaining. Kitchens and homes saw the transition from glass, ceramic and tin products to numerous types of plastics which made casual living easier. Melmac and Melamine dishes, Lustro-ware and Tupperware storage accessories and “thermowall” for picnics were a huge success. Vinyl was used for tablecloths, chair covers and furniture and bark cloth with boomerang and abstract shapes was popular. Tablecloths and dishcloths continued to be brightly colored and souvenir textiles were added to the home with tropical, Southwestern and Mexicana themes. Poodles, roosters and designs with kitchen utensils, tea pots and coffee pots decorated potholders, appliance covers and linens. Appliances were built-in and came in fifties colors such as turquoise, soft yellow, pink and copper.