1930s: Depression-era “modern kitchen” clad in steam

By the 1930s, the kitchen was being transformed from an old-fashioned kitchen to a “streamlined modern kitchen” with time-saving features, better organization, and much better ventilation. The “all-electric kitchen” was promoted in popular magazines with numerous advertisements showcasing newly designed large and small appliances. Mixers were a housewife’s dream, now designed with numerous attachments that could sift flour, mix dough, grate cheese, squeeze lemons, beat potatoes, shred, slice and mince vegetables, and even sharpen knives. “Depression Green” was the “in” color used on wooden cookware handles, kitchen cabinets and countertops, and kitchenware. Often the accessories were cream and green, replacing the black and white look of 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 in textiles. Kitchen items such as canisters and bread boxes tended to be painted smoothly with a simple decal.

In 1935 the National Modernization Office was established to promote modernization throughout the country. Manufacturers competed for better-designed kitchen appliances and accessories. Color began to enter kitchens in the 1930s, and magazine articles featured decorating tips on color combinations and how to incorporate the kitchen into the rest of the home. Kitchens were no longer work stations, but garnered as much attention as the rest of the house. Small and large appliances were available in color and Sears and Montgomery Ward featured colorful cookware and “Japanese” accessories such as container sets, stove sets, cake liners, bread boxes, and waste baskets.

1940s: the colorful post-war era

The post-war kitchen of the 1940s began to be converted into family gathering places and tables and chairs made of chrome bases with enamel, linoleum or plastic tops could now be added to a more spacious kitchen that replaced earlier kitchens more small focused on work. Separate formal dining rooms were being replaced with kitchens that could accommodate family and guests. The kitchen was becoming a very welcoming space, and primary colors dominated the interior decorating palette. Magazines advertised products for his “Gay Modern Kitchen.” Combinations of red, green, and yellow or red and black were popular, as were brightly colored tablecloths, textiles, and curtains. Flowers, fruit, and Dutch motifs were all the rage, found in shelf paper, trim, decals, and kitchen utensils. Appliances with streamlined designs, rounded corners, and smaller proportions continued to be produced. The combined washing machine and dishwasher was introduced, as well as the garbage disposal and freezers for home use.

1950s: the atomic age, the pastel-colored space age

Dramatic changes would occur in the kitchens of the 1950s as space age, atomic age designs and materials came on the scene. The 1950s kitchen featured plastics, pastel colors like turquoise or aqua, pink and yellow (cottage colors), Formica and chrome kitchen table and chair sets that matched the Formica kitchen counters and were easy to clean. keep clean with the little messes. After the war there was more time for leisure promoting tableware and accessories for picnics, barbecues, parties and the home bar.

The introduction of color television in the 1950s brought all the color into America’s living rooms, where housewives could now view all the exciting products and appliances available to them. After World War II, there was a new generation of plastics and time for “fancy living” and entertainment. Kitchens and homes saw the transition from glass, ceramic, and pewter products to numerous types of plastics that made casual living easier. The melmac and melamine plates, the Lustro-ware and Tupperware storage accessories and the “thermowall” for picnics were all a success. Vinyl was used for tablecloths, chair covers, and furniture, and barkcloth with boomerangs and abstract shapes were popular. Tablecloths and dish towels continued to be brightly colored, and souvenir textiles were added to the house with tropical, southwestern, and Mexican themes. Poodles, roosters and designs with kitchen utensils, decorated teapots and coffee pots, pot holders, appliance covers and table linens. The appliances were built-in and came in 1950s colors like turquoise, soft yellow, pink, and copper.