History of the Kitchen – Post World War II


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After World War II, servants, for all but the grandest household, had largely disappeared, having been called up for active service and finding more lucrative employment in industry when returning home. As has been shown, the introduction of efficient labour-saving devices and ergonomically designed kitchens had taken away a large part of the drudgery of kitchen chores. Now, however, the housewife, often left alone for much of the day, felt isolated from the rest of the house.

Was it necessary for the kitchen to be so isolated. Efficient extractor fans dealt effectively with eliminating smells. With cabinets well made with hardwearing, easily cleaned surfaces, the kitchen began to be a room to be proud of and a status symbol in its own right. As early as 1934, Frank Lloyd Wright joined the kitchen, called by him ‘the work space’, to the living room. For the first time we are allowed discrete glimpses of the kitchen through a low-height partition of open shelves.

The demise of the isolated kitchen is also linked with the gradual abandonment of the formal dining room, which instead was more often replaced by a kitchen/dining room. The kitchen now has become the active centre of the household where the family can meet, eat, work and play. Parents can supervise young children and entertain visitors while keeping an eye on the cooking.

So we arrive almost full circle back to Saxon times when everyone gathered round the central hearth. Cabinet makers and appliance manufacturers together have developed kitchens to suit the most modest needs right up to the most expensive fantasies. Today the kitchen is the most highly serviced room in the house, and the room on which most money is spent.

  • History of the Kitchen – Appliances
  • History of the Kitchen – Appliances – part 2
  • History of the Kitchen – 1920s and 1930s
  • History of the kitchen
  • History of the kitchen – Cooktops
  • 1 comment so far ↓

    #1 jackie @ up the path on 07.19.12 at 7:07 am

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    Nice little walk back through time there. It is true we do seem to have gone full circle and the kitchen again has become that central point in the house. I always find that when I hold parties people always congregate in the kitchen.

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