Steampunk Sunday: Turn of the century kitchens

Kitchen illustration, 1900-1920 via 1912 Bungalow

If you’re looking for inspiration for your steampunk kitchen, check out an old post from 1912 Bungalow. If you click on the link or illustration, you’ll find a whole section of illustrations that Heather and David have compiled from old magazines that show what the kitchen of the 1900s-1920s actually looked like.

I’m smiling because this was clearly a city or town picture – out in the remote areas the kitchens were somewhat darker, with more wood:

Picture taken between 1900 and 1910, from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection

Picture taken between 1900 and 1910, from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection (via

But if you pour through the pictures from the 1912Bungalow link, you’ll see common themes for you to explore for your own steampunk flavors. The common threads are:

  • Wood or coal burning ranges – the range was really the heart of the kitchen, especially when there wasn’t central heating
  • Moldings around the room – this could be chair rails, or tile. Tile was only installed half-way up the walls
  • Wood floors (country) or Linoleum(city) or small honeycomb tile
  • Wall sconces or a single light over the sink – The wall sconces were a later invention. In the country, there might have been a kerosene lamp hung on a peg (depending on which part of the continent you were in.) Pay attention to the styling of the lamps – it’s becoming easier all the time to find reproductions of the lights you see in 1912Bungalow’s kitchen illustrations.
  • Glass doors – Here it wasn’t to make the room feel larger, it was for the cook to find the small bottles of baking soda easily.
  • Casement and single-hung windows – note the curtains. Not sure I see many of them in a steampunk home, although the cafe-style might work (it’s the one that covers only the bottom half of the window.)

PBS also had a wonderful series called The 1900 House. The website is still up. Pop on over and read what the Victorian cook had to deal with – dangerous coal stoves, gas lamps which sometimes shattered, and lack of refrigeration. One of the nice things with playing with the alternate reality of a steampunk kitchen is that we're much safer today. Phew.


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  1. Those old kitchens fascinate me. I wouldn’t care to have one of my own, but it is most interesting to see where the idea came from. Hoosier Cabinets are another intriguing concept. I’m not sure why it would take longer for water to boil on those stoves. I was born in Missoula, Montana, and the house we lived in until I was five was built by my father. It had a wood burning stove, and I can remember my mother cooking in that kitchen and opening it from time to time to throw in more wood! We moved to Helena, Montana in 1950, and thereafter Mother had gas-burning stoves. But she insisted to the very end that the best stove she’d ever had was the one in Missoula! She said it did the best job of baking, and in those days she used to make homemade bread………*whimper*…………

  2. You’re welcome!

  3. As an avid vintage design book collector I have always loved the ingenious cabinets from turn of the century kitchens. We are designing a kitchen for our woods in the Oregon coast range and hope in incorporate some of the style of this era. Thanks for the great links!