Cabinets Through History

How does one choose from the vast array of kitchen cabinet styles? The most current and popular trends may be just what your home needs, based on practicality and aesthetic preference. Or you might want to go for a more classic look that will match most decors and is likely to endure over time. Taking a tour of cabinets through history is a fun place to start. From washable kitchens to the breakfast nook craze, changing styles reflect the priorities of each era, and a trip back in time presents a wide range of ideas to consider.

The evolution of the modern kitchen is an intriguing story of innovation and changing family needs. It’s also kind of a hoot. Some shall-we-say ‘unusual’ features were destined to be short-lived…like these pullout steps that doubled as a makeshift (and not so hygienic) eating spot, courtesy of House Beautiful.


House Beautiful, ‘100 Years of the American Kitchen’

The kitchen has always been the central room of activity in the house, starting out as little more than open fireplaces, then cast iron stoves that doubled as heat sources. With the advent of running water and electricity, the kitchen’s functions expanded and so did storage and workspaces. The Hoosier Cabinet, as seen below in this advertisement from the late 1800’s,demonstrates the combination of uses that kitchen cabinets were expected to accommodate.


The Hoosier Cabinet from Popular Woodworking

The modern concept of kitchen cabinetry arguably began with built-in cabinets which came into fashion in the 1920’s, creating more open space and even allowing for a kitchen table.


History Daily ‘Photos of Old Kitchens from 1860 to 1970’

As appliances like gas stoves and dishwashers came on the scene, they too became built-in.  Since that time, a host of kitchen fads have faded in and out of popularity, and the choice of cabinet styles has continued to expand as kitchens gradually moved into the modern era and came to resemble today’s iteration..

With the trend toward clean, bright kitchens in the 1930’s came shiny materials like metal cabinets, stainless steel countertops, and linoleum floors. Eat-in kitchens were all the rage in the 40’s and the affluence of the 50’s brought custom cabinetry and the need to accommodate a new influx of labor-saving gadgets.

In the 60’s, the country embraced a love of earth tones with colors like avocado green and harvest gold, and in the 70’s, large appliances such as fridges and dishwashers hid behind matching cabinet faces. Pastels were all the rage in 80’s kitchens, followed by the muted colors of the 90’s–along with ‘gourmet’ designs that were meant to approximate restaurant kitchens.


An 80’s kitchen as seen in

White cabinets and marble countertops were common around 2010 and recently trended again (along with the more affordable and practical quartz option). Today, predicted trends for 2022 include colorful kitchen islands, bright cabinet colors, and a focus on efficient storage solutions like stand-alone larders and appliance cabinets which seem to be making a comeback.

So many styles and choices are available in the modern kitchen, it’s easier than ever to create a space that is both highly functional and tailored to your personal tastes. You just might want to consider some of the less-obvious options that were popular in the past. Now that you know the full range of possibilities, have fun imagining and creating your own dream kitchen, one that will suit your needs today and far into the future. Begin your journey today and start working with our sales professionals.