A Brief History of the Kitchen

Adjustments in kitchen design typically mirrored financial and societal modifications.

The historical past of the kitchen is fascinating. The kitchen we all know right now is an indispensable part to modern life. Immediately’s kitchen is commonly open to the household and eating rooms and it’s the pure gathering place when entertaining. As a substitute of welcoming friends into the lounge, the kitchen is the place we collect buddies or conduct enterprise. Owners right now are demanding massive kitchen plans with loads of house for baking, cooking and internet hosting. Double islands, walk-in pantries, and specialty home equipment hold kitchen remodelers busy. Contemplating how necessary the “trophy” kitchen is for right now’s owners, it’s wonderful to suppose that not way back, kitchens have been one of many least fascinating rooms within the dwelling. It’s apparent that the kitchen has undergone many technological and social modifications over the many years. However what won’t be so apparent is why these modifications occurred, or what created the kitchen we all know and love right now.

Traditionally, kitchens weren’t luxurious and in contrast to right now’s kitchen, they weren’t rooms the place folks wished to spend time in. They positively weren’t rooms meant for internet hosting friends or entertaining. They have been darkish and vulnerable to catching fireplace; they have been crammed with noises, messes and smells. They have been extraordinarily busy areas and could possibly be sizzling and uncomfortable. For these causes, kitchens tended to be located as distant as potential from the social or personal rooms in a house. The higher class even celebrated a disconnection from meals and meals preparation by situating their eating rooms distant from the kitchen, going as far as to masks the odor of meals. Even the decrease courses positioned the kitchen away from the middle of the house by transferring them to the again of the home, subsequent to the out of doors work areas. So how did it come to be that the kitchen of today serves because the hub for practically each facet of dwelling life? What occasions transpired to permit us the luxurious of the kitchen we all know right now?

Kitchens within the Center Ages


In European communal societies of ages previous, cooking was primarily completed over an open fireplace inside a one-room dwelling or throughout the nice corridor of a bigger construction. All method of life revolved across the cooking space, which was the first supply of warmth, mild and security. Over time the final structure of the house modified and the central, nice corridor was sub-divided. The division of the nice corridor might sound like a minor change nonetheless, if it hadn’t been for the invention of the chimney, this won’t have occurred in any respect. 

Within the Center Ages (in Europe this spanned the 5th – 15th centuries), life centered across the always-lit open fire. Smoke and soot have been a continuing hassle for eyes and lungs. Romans had used brick tubes to attract out smoke, and the earliest instance of a chimney in England was 1185. However smoke and soot remained an enormous downside till the 16th century when chimneys grew to become extensively utilized in properties. With a chimney, smoke was drawn up and out of the nice corridor, making it simpler to breath and simpler to create massive cooking fires in fireplaces. However the massive, brick chimney and fireside successfully divided this nice room, creating two rooms: the lounge (the place friends have been acquired and enterprise carried out), and the kitchen.

Kitchens within the 18th and 19th Centuries

Financial traits and politics had a significant affect on the design and performance of the kitchen. The 18th and 19th centuries noticed an affect of the French model of cooking (each in England and America), with elaborate dishes, formal desk settings, and strict etiquette. Elevated commerce between Europe, The Americas and Asia introduced new meals and new calls for to the kitchen. Servants have been essential to not solely cook dinner but additionally deal with and clear the growing quantities of cutlery, dishware, devices and ovens. The sheer variety of dishes anticipated to be served at an 18th century ceremonial dinner may make even probably the most enthusiastic 21st century chef look positively insufficient. For instance, it was frequent that every course demanded no less than one hour apiece for consuming, and consisted of a number of dishes per course. Dinner events may final hours and hours. In 1769, Elizabeth Raffald penned The Experienced English Housekeeper  and suggested: “As many dishes as you’ve got in a single course, so many baskets or plates your dessert will need to have, and as my invoice of fare is twenty-five to every course, so should your dessert be of the identical quantity and set out in the identical method.” Think about internet hosting a dinner consisting of 75 dishes!

19th century: The kitchen stays hidden regardless of developments

Technological developments within the kitchen have been fixed, most of which aimed toward decreasing labor and time. From the small turnspit canine skilled to show the roasting wheel, to using coal then gasoline, the invention of forged iron, electrical energy, and plumbed water, kitchen conveniences have been always altering the look of the kitchen.

Throughout the 19th century, massive properties in America continued to make use of servants for many family chores, together with kitchen work like cooking, prepping and cleaning. Row homes or brownstones historically saved their kitchens on the underside ground and out of the way in which of the principle entrance to the house. Under floor kitchens like this had the benefit of larger accessibility to the yard, the place laundry could possibly be completed, in addition to entry to deliveries. Forged iron stoves grew to become in style in 1850s and have been far more environment friendly than cooking in a fire. Even pioneers on the American prairie opted for forged iron stoves for his or her elevated heating capability and quicker cook dinner instances. Based on Old House Online, “the expansion of American coal and iron mining within the 1820s made forged iron the surprise materials of the 19th century and led to a prolific business in making stoves for cooking in addition to heating.” Forged iron was thought of a technological development – it could possibly be forged into ornamental shapes and varieties and will simply face up to temperature swings from sizzling to chilly. For properties with out servants, kitchens have been usually a part of the principle residing quarter, however have been nonetheless saved at the back of the house and away from the extra formal receiving rooms, just like the parlor. As necessary because the kitchen was to a household, kitchen work was nonetheless girl’s work, and it was positively not the place you entertained friends.

Early 1900s: Ergonomics are launched to the kitchen

The economic revolution spurred new innovations, cheaper costs, and new methods of pondering like financial and ergonomic effectivity. Gasoline grew to become the popular supply of warmth and allowed ovens to develop into smaller and lighter. The flip of the 20th century noticed a larger curiosity in saving time in manufacturing facility manufacturing, and this curiosity finally flowed into kitchen design as nicely. The kitchen of the late 1800’s featured little or no storage, as cupboards weren’t in manufacturing for the house. In 1899 the Hoosier Manufacturing Firm was shaped they usually launched a freestanding kitchen storage piece, generally known as the Hoosier Cupboard. It included house saving options like higher and decrease cabinetry, in-cabinet storage areas for issues like flour and sugar, and sometimes featured a pullout work floor. Though the Hoosier cupboard wasn’t massive, it stuffed the storage void for the homemaker and made working within the kitchen that rather more environment friendly.


Within the 1920’s, ergonomic effectivity within the kitchen took one big step ahead with the creation of the tiny, however environment friendly, Frankfort Kitchen. This superior kitchen design, launched in Germany by the effectivity skilled, Frederick Winslow Taylor, centered on placing all vital gadgets within the kitchen inside arm’s attain. Though this feels like commonplace observe for right now’s kitchen, the concept of laying out the kitchen to make it extra ergonomic and environment friendly for the homemaker was revolutionary, and finally gave approach to the “golden triangle”

1930’s and 1940’s: Expertise, ergonomics and conflict open up the kitchen

The concept of the “fitted kitchen,” whereby home equipment have been changing into extra built-in inside cabinetry, was an necessary transformation for the kitchen within the 1930’s and 1940’s. Fitted cabinetry and home equipment helped create a extra purposeful, and delightful inside design, and the workflow throughout the house grew to become simpler to make use of. The invention of labor-saving units, time-saving instruments, with higher kitchen designs and extra fashionable, matching choices made the kitchen a supply of satisfaction. Many of those developments have been a bi-product of conflict efforts and know-how. Girls, having a style of working exterior the house throughout WWII, returned after the conflict and desired higher design of their kitchen.

The manufacturing developments and housing increase of post-World Battle II made a big impact on the kitchen of right now. There was an elevated demand for kitchen know-how and gear. Improvements in quiet air flow hoods, shiny ovens with matching refrigerators, dishwashers and designed counter tops impressed owners to tear down the partitions that after hid the utilitarian kitchen. The kitchen was changing into quieter, cleaner, higher organized and simpler to work in. In essence, the kitchen was changing into a supply of satisfaction, and slowly changing into a spot worthy of entertaining.

The 1960’s and past: The at-home chef and designer kitchen


Within the 1960’s and 1970’s different societal modifications have been happening that impacted the model of the kitchen. A renewed curiosity in dwelling cooking, fetishizing kitchen utensils and entertaining meant that life was taking place, as soon as once more, within the kitchen. The kitchen grew to become a supply for honing culinary crafts, displaying designer cookware and served because the hub for social exercise. By the 1980’s, the concept of a totally open kitchen, with home equipment designed to point out off, got here into being. The trophy kitchen was born.

Our 21st century has seen a renewed curiosity in crafting, hobbies and homesteading. Kitchens are getting used as testing grounds for brand new concepts and swarms of bloggers and entrepreneurs are getting into the meals crafting market. There may be additionally a parallel development in the direction of connectivity, built-in home equipment and utilizing wi-fi know-how all through the house. Fridges can inform our telephones that we’re out of milk and our tablets can monitor our recipes and meals consumption. Whereas one development is a little bit of a throw-back, wanting backwards to a less complicated time in our kitchen historical past, the opposite development is taking pictures for the longer term. In relation to our kitchens, the design traits we select must be private – in any case, household life appears to happen most predominantly throughout the kitchen house.

Which present traits do you get pleasure 

If you’re contemplating reworking your kitchen, be certain you rent a kitchen designer or contractor that really understands what your private home wants and may give you an area that works for each now and for years to come back.


Creator’s observe: America, being a slightly new nation, has a comparatively quick historical past of the house to attract upon. As a result of a lot of our architectural affect got here from Europe, and due to the wealthy sources of historic info, I’ve chosen England as one instance through which to debate historic kitchens previous to the 1800’s. After all, different nations and cultures have necessary dwelling histories and influences as nicely, and I hope to cowl these matters sooner or later.

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