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Saturday, January 11, 2014



Cooking started with cooking over fire. I imagine the cavewoman kept her untensils close by, maybe making a shelf in the cave? Fire was the only method of cooking until the 1800-1900's with the advent of electricity, coal, kerosene, etc.

The homes of the majority of the population would have had a cooking fireplace like these. There was no running water, no kitchen cabinets, no microwave. It was hauling water from a well, building fires, churning butter and using tables for preparation.

During colonial days, the family probably lived in a 2 room log cabin with a loft. The main room was living room/dining room/kitchen/work room. They didn't have fine china, stainless flatware, stainless steel cookware, etc. It was iron, pewter, baskets, wooden spoons.

It must have been awful being a woman back then. You were responsible for cooking every day and the ingredients weren't from a grocery store. The clothes had to be made from scratch and that means weaving your own clothe to make into clothes or saving pennies to go to the nearest store and buying calico. Cooking and cleaning would have been a major part of the day. I can't imagine having to work in such an overheated environment.

Only the big houses would have had a real kitchen with servants. They still would have used fire so it must have been hot. Some people, who had more money and more possessions, decided to build their kitchens in a separate building behind the main house so that if it caught on fire it didn't burn down the main house. A form of protection. Completely separated "summer kitchens" developed on larger farms further north to avoid overheating the main house by the preparation of the meals for the harvest workers or tasks like canning. The southern kitchen was often relegated to an outhouse, separated from the mansion, for much of the same reasons as in the feudal kitchen in medieval Europe: the kitchen was operated by slaves, which was normally separated from the living area of the masters by the social standards of the time. In addition, the area's warm climate made operating a kitchen quite unpleasant, especially in the summer.

It wasn't until the industrialization began in the late 1800's when other means of cooking came into being. As new factories were built and workers were recruited the cities began to fill up. People moved off the farm and into the city. With urbanization, cities had to plan utilities. Water began to be tapped into the house but you still had to heat your hot water on the wood stove. Gas lines and sewage pipes were laid and a lot of places began to have separate rooms for the kitchen. But it wasn't until the 1930's that technology stabilized and most people had a working kitchen.

These kitchens represent the kitchens of the first part of the 1900's. Notice the only workspace was the kitchen table. There were few builtin cabinets, or countertops. Most storage was in separate cabinets. It must have been rough to be a woman in those times. The heat from the stoves, the hard work to wash, dry, iron clothes, preparing food from scratch.

Water pipes were laid towards the end of the 19th century, and then often with only one tap per building or per story in city tenements. Pots and kitchenware were stored on open shelves, and parts of the room could be separated from the rest using simple curtains.

In contrast, there were no dramatic changes for the upper classes. The kitchen, located in the basement or the ground floor or outhouse, continued to be operated by servants. In some houses, water pumps were installed, and some even had kitchen sinks and drains. In this black and white photo she has a wood stove beside her kerosene stove with tiny oven.

In this photo you see her ice box is next to the stove. I bet that didn't work too well!

New apartment buildings began to have Frankfurt kitchens which was a galley kitchen with lots of storage. It wasn't perfect because they would store loose food items like flour and sugar in bins reachable by children. And it was so narrow that only one person could work in it. But the Frankfurt kitchen had been designed using time/motion studies and was meant to be very efficient. It was due to the Frankfurt kitchen that the term "women exiled to the kitchen" came into being. It was seen as a separate work room. The idea of standardized dimensions and layout developed for the Frankfurt kitchen, took hold. The equipment used remained a standard for years to come: hot and cold water on tap and a kitchen sink and an electrical or gas stove and oven. Not much later, the refrigerator was added as a standard item. It was still very bare bones. They used practical utensils and had just enough for the family to cook, serve and eat with. There just wasn't the storage for other things unless you were very wealthy and lived in a mansion. Then they had rooms to store things like a Butlers' Pantry for china and glassware; a room for a root cellar; a room for a pantry; a room for laundry, etc. The middle class and upper class had to keep a close eye on supplies because servants could steal. There were tea caddies that locked, sugar boxes that locked, knife boxes that locked, etc.. A good housekeeper or woman of the house kept a tight ship.

This small kitchen was seen in a lot of apartments. Remember the kitchen in the corner of the apartment on The Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason?

As we began to have more expendable income we began to build bigger kitchens and outfit them with builtin cabinetry. Some people used metal kitchen cabinets.

This 1930's design looks a lot like the ultra modern kitchen in the last photo.

This kitchen had a separate metal cabinet with the builtin sink. It was suppose to look like a built in. But you can tell it wasn't original to the house since it sits in front of the door and causes the entrance to the kitchen too narrow.

A trend began in the 1940s in the United States to equip the kitchen with electrified small and large kitchen appliances such as blenders, toasters, and dishwashers.

In the 1950's builtin cabinets became the norm and they experimented with adding built in grills in the dens or built in bars or built in intercoms. They tried different colors in appliances to match the automobile colors that were popular. So you could get turquoise, pink or yellow appliances.

In the 1960's everyone wanted something different, sleek, space age. Laminate was everywhere.

The 1970's had the avocado, golden harvest or burnt orange appliances. The style was dark woods. The stove hood was developed and builders thought that open kitchens would work. And a lot of people still like the open floor plan but, to me it isn't practical. If you pop popcorn the whole house smells of popcorn. The cooking smells and greasy smoke floats around the whole house. I like having a kitchen big enough to have comfortable sitting place and eating place but I like doors so that I can close the kitchen off and not spread the smells everywhere.

When we lived Tryon, NC we redid the kitchen. We completely gutted it. It was a galley kitchen which was very efficient. I would have liked a little more space so that 2 people could get in it and work because Stan often helps me. This is a sketch that shows the galley kitchen. I only had 3 ft of floor space. 6 ft would have been nice.

We had a nice window over the sink that I really enjoyed. I loved the glass cabinet doors that showed my Fiestaware. We got the solid surface countertops and I liked it. My cousin does the cabinetry and he did a great job.

The washer and dryer were in a closet in the kitchen. I hated that! I wanted a separate laundry room. I used this pretty blue tile for the kitchen floor.

I finally made the curtains for the kitchen just before we moved to our current house!

In our new house, the kitchen hadn't been used so the cabinets, floor, etc were in great shape. I left the cabinets alone but we did change the countertops from the 1980's beige laminate to a black pearly granite and it looks great!

I wanted to make the kitchen cheery and a place to enjoy so I used a bright blue paint with bright white and primary yellow accessories. The brick floor is indestructable. I love the fish bowl window where we have our breakfast area. I used the tall bistro table and stools so our dogs wouldn't be bothering us while we ate.

I would love to have a pantry like this. And I love the idea of the screen door for the pantry door. I've seen them decorated too which is really cute.

These kitchens are beautiful and I really like them.

The wallpaper decorates this kitchen without having a lot of decorative items to keep clean. I like all the cabinets and drawers. Drawers are my new favorite feature in a kitchen. I honestly would like to have pull out drawers in all of my lower cabinets. I also like having some of the cabinets with glass to show off your china. I love the black and white floor although it doesn't really match the wallpaper.

This kitchen is so bright and airy. It has extra high ceilings, plenty of cabinets. It has some upper cabinets with glass doors. I love the lighting too. The fancy ceiling mold is beautiful. I wouldn't have used the fake plants on top of the cabinets since it dates the kitchen.

Another bright, white and airy kitchen. I love the islands. I like how they tried to make this modern kitchen look like it's part of an old house. The drawer pulls, the clock, the light fixture, the cabinets that don't quite make it to the ceiling so that they don't look as built in. Then look at the cove ceiling.

For a dark, cozy kitchen, this one is really nice. I love the windows with the arches, the eat-in countertop facing the windows. But there are still plenty of upper cabinets. I love the woodwork. And look at the

This is another nice kitchen. I love the big windows at the sink but there is still plenty of upper cabinets. Notice the granite countertops and yet the island is marble. Notice the ceiling. This kitchen is so modern and up-to-date and yet looks like it fits into an old house.

Kitchens that are not practical

This beautiful kitchen is nice to look at but lets look at all the ways it wouldn't work for me. There are only 2 upper cabinets and they are so high up it would be difficult to use. That means you are bending over to get everything in the lower cabinets. Bummer! It also has a wooden countertop and I would not ever have a wooden countertop where there is water. I don't care how good you seal the wood, eventually, around the edges of the sink or stove, the finish will begin to flake and the wood is exposed.

You would think all stainless would be great and easy to keep up. But with open shelves everything is going to get dusty and grimy. And try to reach that top shelf! You have to lug out a ladder. The wire baskets also allow for dust and grime from cooking. There is no stove hood so any cooking and frying is going to send that smeary stuff into the air to land on everything.

This is a huge, gorgeous kitchen. Just not for cooking. It's a looks only kitchen. The soaring ceilings means that everything you cook will smell up the whole house. You cook fish or cabbage and everything smells like it. The stove hood is made of rock. Try to clean that! And there are a lot of steps from the sink to the stove and fridge! If someone sits at that bar you are having to yell at them to talk to them.

Another beautiful kitchen but all that rock would be impossible to keep clean. It will get grimy from normal dust and grease and will not look this clean. And it's especially around the stove so there is no question that it will get grimy. Try to clean that chandelier! And look at the steps from sink to the stove and fridge. The baskets will only get dusty. Unless you use fake potatoes and onions, then there will be dirt and onion skins all in the cabinet open to view.

This is a beautiful kitchen. But try to clean all the cutouts in the cabinetry. It's everywhere. And I don't like tile countertops. The open shelving is a challenge to keep the stuff washed.

There are no upper cabinets in this kitchen so you are bending over all the time in the kitchen. The bricks are great architectural features but not over the stove. You can't clean that brick from the greasy smoke of cooking.

In the future will we go back to the small efficient kitchen? This one is a little too efficient and I hate the cold modern and stainless look. But this would be easy to clean and convenient with no extra steps. 

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