A Century of Changes in Kitchen Cabinet


Many people are hesitant to renovate a worn-out vintage kitchen due to the fear of losing the personality of their home. The concern is unnecessary because it is likely that the kitchen has already changed multiple times over the years. Very few modern cooks would enjoy a traditional kitchen from a century ago or even a few decades earlier. One of the most notable changes has been the evolution from the sparse storage availability of yesterday to the modern cabinets people use today.

Shortage of Storage

Cabinets were not available in kitchens at the start of the 20th century and before. At that time most people had a single freestanding cupboard for some necessities with a panty for dry storage, but no kitchen cabinets for their dishes or other items. A dining area often held a pantry dresser with drawers for silverware and shelves on the wall above for holding plates.

Development of Cabinets

Changes to the kitchen were already underway when the first baking cabinets appeared. The workstation was often called a Hoosier cabinet, and it was an all-in-one unit that included storage, a built-in flour sifter, and an attached countertop for convenient food preparation. The popular design was once a must-have for most kitchens and remains a beloved collectible for antique shoppers.

Increase in Options

Catalog companies recognized the potential profit of kitchen cabinets and began to sell a variety of options by the 1930s. The cabinet choices included units made to fit from floor to ceiling, those that fit into recessed walls, and much more. Eventually, designers paired kitchen countertops with cabinets for easier food preparation.

Attention to Style

The 1950s were an era of change in many ways, and one of the changes that took place were home design options. Newly developed materials made it easier and more affordable to have a custom kitchen design. The makers of kitchen cabinets also began to offer modular individual cabinetry for the fitted kitchen, a style that most modern kitchens still use today.

Improvements in Organization

The kitchen cabinets designed today focus on style and function. The cabinet is no longer just a storage area, but a design feature that makes food preparation easier and more enjoyable. Since the 1950s, the improvements include pull-out spice drawers, lazy Susans to avoid wasted corners, and vertical storage for plates and cookie sheets. Self-closing hinges, sponge drawers filling the empty space in front of sinks and hidden recycling and garbage shelves keep everything in its place and make items easier to reach.

The addition of a kitchen cabinet made life much cleaner and easier for home cooks a century ago, and updated cabinetry adds even more enjoyment to meal time. The custom kitchen cabinets designed today make it possible for people to have a streamlined and simple kitchen, an elegant and ornate cooking area, or to find reproduction designs that stay true to the era of their home.