Kitchen Styles Through The Decades, Part 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Source: via  Samantha Vacca

Source: via Samantha Vacca

It’s been well-established here, and elsewhere, that the kitchen in the 20th century and through to our own 21st century, has become the nerve center of the modern household. But, in terms of style, how far have we come?

In this first part of a two part series, writer Neal Rochester traces some of the most prominent kitchen trends from the last century through to this one. How radical have the changes been?  Have any elements stayed the same, or made a comeback? Find out here!


Arguably the liveliest room in the house, the kitchen endures as the place where work gets done, hunger gets sated, and families come together.  Due to its importance to the life of the house as well as to the value of the home, kitchens are among the most popularly chosen rooms to renovate, update, and redecorate.  For the last century or so, kitchen design and décor has witness major trends and styles that continue to influence the ongoing evolution of today’s kitchens.

Arts and Crafts kitchen

Its adherence to quality and its marriage between functionality and form have continued to make this a popular choice for kitchen décor.  Growing popular in the years before World War I as a response to the mass produced and ornate styles of the Victorian period, the Arts and Crafts style paid homage to the crafter and to a simpler design style—a precursor to Modernism.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest


Arts and Crafts kitchens, whether historic or reproduced in contemporary kitchens, are represented by natural color palettes, handcrafted furniture, wall decoration, painted tiles, and motifs that are indicative of nature.  By promoting natural elements, particularly wood and stone, and emphasizing works made by hand—not machine—the movement achieved a lasting style.

Many homeowners continue to favor the Arts and Crafts tradition by installing period tiles or wallpaper such as the sample above designed by William Morris.  Art glass panels for cabinetry and lighting fixtures also typify this timeless style that continues to enjoy periods of revival in contemporary kitchens.

1950s style: age of appliance and chrome

1950s kitchen styles showcased an array of new technologies that helped transform cooking and life for the modern woman.  Along with new appliances, kitchens also featured new food products that began to make kitchen work easier.  Kitchens of this era might be bright and outfitted in red and white with lots of gleaming chrome.  On the other hand, some kitchens might boast a softer palette with colors like avocado green.

Source: via Heather on Pinterest


Atomic barkcloth and a shift toward more modern materials like plastics and vinyl was also a fad of fifties kitchens.  1950s styles can still be seen in some of today’s more playful kitchens that feature retro appliances and wall art indicative of the 1950s and its art and product labels.

Mid-Century: the Brady Bunch Influence

Mid-Century styles of the sixties, seventies, and eighties saw the kitchen merge from the domain of the mother to the meeting place for the family.  Kitchens, while continuing to evolve functionally with new technologies, became increasingly relaxed as well as spacious to accommodate large family gatherings.

Source: via Flashback on Pinterest


No longer would the cook be banished to the kitchen and its hot stove; instead, kitchens began to look onto great rooms and family rooms and the formal dining room began to be reserved for holidays and special occasions.  Décor might involve Arts and Crafts, contemporary, or even rustic styles, but the architecture of the kitchen underwent a grand transformation in Mid-Century constructions.


Thanks, Neal!

Neal Rochester wrote this post on behalf of Walls need love design vinyl wall decals and vinyl wall quotes, custom made to order. They donate 1% of sales to which plants trees to help offset the production of their products.

Stay tuned for Part 2!



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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.