Learning from Historic Kitchens

It’s not good because it’s old, it’s old because it’s good.

Spaces, Places, and Times


Since I have to do work after my day job to care for my home and our family, and have chosen to change my attitude about it, I chose to make my main workspace, my kitchen, the best it absolutely can be to fit me.

First, I looked to the prime of kitchens, when people didn’t have servants to cook for them anymore and when economy and service were key. There has been an arc in kitchen design the last 200 years or so and I wanted to be at the very crest of it. It started with bare rooms, a pump, a fireplace and servants, then went to lovely half-fitted kitchens where mothers were churning out 3 meals a day with the newest technology in hot/cold running water, gas cooking, and electric refrigeration. This is the pinnacle of that arc if you ask me. This is where I wanted to base my kitchen from- somewhere between 1910-1950. After that kitchens became way too small, lost their pantries and then eventually turned to gigantic marble / stainless steel shrines where no one was cooking in them and everyone just got take-out.

I researched and researched. Ir was very hard to find information on anything but those marble shrines to cooking. What I started to notice was they all looked very much alike! Even the popular kitchens of the pre-marble countertop times were very cooky-cuttery with dark cabinets and boring decor. I had to go back even father! Here are some of the resources that really helped me!

Inside these wonderful books: a treasure trove of pictures and information about kitchens in their prime and how they got there.

Then, armed with all this inspiration I went to work seeing what would work in my own kitchen. This is harder than it seems because everyone has different needs. My family eats together every night. We love to cook together and to eat our own cooking. We needed a hard-working space big enough for everyone, but not so big that it would be inefficient. I did not want a kitchen open to the rest of my home. I wanted a private space where we could go to work and play, a place to be away form the formality of the front of the house.

With all this cooking in mind I did more and more research, planning, bouncing ideas off of my husband, keeping in mind our miniscule budget the whole time. What kind of kitchen were we aiming for? What amenities did we need? What was a problem? What needed tweaking? What could be made better?

What we came up with was the arc of kitchen perfection! In our minds this is where we took all we loved from historic kitchens, all the ideas and time-savers from home economists, mixed in our needs, took chunks out for our budget, fit it to our space and voila! Just like baking a cake we would have a perfect kitchen!

Let’s see how it worked out in the next post shall we?

Coming soon!

-Jaime

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