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Mid Century Kitchens

Images from 1937 to 1963

1945 Kitchen of Tomorrow - Western Pines

Kitchens changed dramatically from the late Depression of the 30s through World War II and then during the post War period. The biggest changes were those that took place during the 1950s and 60s. Kitchens, once small and dedicated to food preparation became multi-purpose rooms as laundry, dining, and other household functions were incorporated. Open floor plans began to decompartmentalize many functions. Instead of the enclosed kitchen and formal dining room of the first quarter of the century, the nooks of the 1920s morphed into snack and breakfast bars with stools or dinettes with benches and chrome tables.

Though the size of most kitchens remained small, they did expand to incorporate the new large, post-War refrigerators. Dishwashers, which had been around for decades, became increasingly popular. Wall ovens separate from the range top were another innovation prized by homemakers. Storage was often clever with custom built-ins shown in almost every popular home magazine.

Stylistically, kitchens were sometimes modern with clean lines and new materials like plastics and vinyl. Other times they were more traditional with wood cabinetry and painted or papered walls. All were subject to the prevailing market and the styles designers continually experimented with.

Famous design elements like knotty pine cabinetry, space-age formica, or ultra modern furnishings are commonly found. Colors were often creative, bright, and modern.

Despite the "mid century" designation and the subtext of "atomic" style, modern design continued to compete against the prevailing tide of conventional and traditional design. The industrial designers of the 1930s including Russell Wright, Alvar Aalto, and the Eames were often overshadowed by the affection most Americans had for their Colonial roots. Early American and folk designs with tole painting and rosemaling were seen more often than the modern designs we often think of.

The post-War period is rich in style. Regardless, of your personal taste, you are bound to find both inspiration and humor in mid century American residential interior design.


© 2008 Mid Century Home Style