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Kitchen flashback: 1946

So check out this kitchen from KBIS last week:

Merillat has been around for how long? Here is one of their first kitchens, circa 1946.

No, it’s not “what’s old is new again” but it is a nod to the past: Merillat Cabinetry decided to recreate one of the first kitchens they had ever made, back in 1946.  Merillat has been around as long as I remember (well, not 1946!) and it was lovely to see how far we’ve come in design since then. Ranges were wider, refrigerators were shorter,  counter space was minimal and somehow our mothers and grandmothers managed some pretty good meals out of those kitchens.

HOW DESIGN HAS CHANGED

Have a good look at the kitchen. Cabinetry was so much simpler. The cabinet frame was made as one entire piece — no box construction — and its main purpose was to hold up the counter and provide a vertical surface to hang the doors.At one time, many of the cabinets were made out of birch and the frame wasn’t always a different color as shown here.

I remember heading out with my father in the early days and seeing kitchens like these, but not in as fine shape! The birch would be painted several times and the doors wouldn’t close because due to so many layers of paint. We usually saw a lot of water damage around the sink area as plumbing wasn’t as good as it is today and the counter and frame would be quite sponge-y. The decorative slots in the drawer front below the sink were meant to be actual cut-outs to allow air to circulate within the sink cabinet and dry out any moisture. Unfortunately, it didn’t always work.

You’ve probably all noticed the lack of cabinet space between the refrigerator and the range. If I had to make a guess, the top of the range doubled as extra counter space for the food at meal times. Items could be kept warm and transferred to the table when needed. I wouldn’t put a pro range and a refrigerator next to each other today. For one thing, the burners are more powerful and I’d be concerned about the space requirements manufacturers suggest. Plus, we all have more…stuff. *grin*

Check out the linoleum floor. I remember my grandmother waxing those floors with a big buffing machine that would kick back if you held the handle the wrong way. Battleship linoleum. We had to be careful not to leave scuffs, but when it was shiny, wasn’t it charming?  (I am ruining the “good old days” thoughts, aren’t I?) Still, it was a nice display and a nice throwback to a simpler time.

For those of you who are interested, Pam over at Retro Renovations delves deeper into the history and background of the display here.

Until next time,

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Comments

  1. This is great! Way before my time, but I love seeing how new technology influences design (and visa versa).

  2. Thank you for this one, Kelly! I love early kitchens, as it’s so interesting to see the nature vs nurture development of the kitchen’s history and relevance within the home.

    I’m guessing you already know about “The Frankfurt kitchen” from the early 1920′s? Interesting discussion about it – them – over at Ikeafans, if anyone’s interested:

    http://www.ikeafans.com/forums/kitchen-planning/68065-really-interesting-small-galley-kitchen-concept.html

  3. Slick blog! I find this subject very interesting, where kitchens came from. I grew up in the 1950s. Our Helena, Montana home was built about 1880. The kitchen had been remodeled a time or two before we got into it, and my carpenter father changed it still further. I remember the stove and refrigerator being on one wall, but I’m not sure if they were as close together as these. They might have been. The countertop was a brand new preformed Formica top that Dad installed himself. I just barely remember the single sink that preceded that renovation because when we got the double sink we thought the millennium had arrived. One side for soapy dishwater, the other side to rinse. What could be more efficient!

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