Kitchen Design

Make Awesome Your Kitchen

1920s Kitchen Cabinets

4.5 stars – based on 93 reviews in categories News

1920s Kitchen Cabinets

I saw a similar design in an old house that I copied. Most cabinet makers don’t like doing 1920s style cabinets, and it takes some effort to get them to make cabinets to appear like the old style cabinets. Here we have butt hinges, which cabinet makers hate. The drawers are typical 1920s, 1/4″ overlay which you dont see anymore. The base of the cabinet is the floor which the cabinet makers will tell you won’t work.
1920s kitchen cabinets 1

1920s Kitchen Cabinets

A glimpse through early 20th-century catalogs illustrates just how quickly the change to uniform, fitted, modular cabinets trickled down to average consumers. In a 1910 edition of the Sears Roebuck catalog, there are just a few pantry dressers, but a 1927 Universal Millwork catalog devotes several pages to cabinets that were intended to fill entire kitchen walls. There are cabinets stretching from floor to ceiling (standard height was 8', 6″) that feature waist-level pullout bins for storing flour and other staples; cabinets with rows of hinged doors, behind which were shelves to hold an array of kitchen utensils; and cabinets built around integrated sinks and refrigerators. There are cabinets designed to fit into a recessed wall or project into a room, as well as a choice of solid wooden or glass cabinet doors. For certain cupboard combinations, homeowners could choose to have the countertop made from one solid piece of wood. They could also order special features such as built-in spice racks, broom closets, or rows of drawers. Cupboards could be broken down into individual, modular units designed to fit narrow spaces (one cabinet sporting a stack of drawers, for example). There's even a waist-high floor cabinet that features a recessed toe board, a design the catalog says allows one to get up close to the table while working.
1920s kitchen cabinets 2

1920s Kitchen Cabinets

That's because the cabinets common today—continuous expanses of storage and workspace partnered with countertops—didn't exist before the 1920s. Before then, kitchens had precious few storage areas, and those that did exist bore little resemblance to the modular boxes now considered a virtual necessity in modern kitchens. So for many folks, the path between historical accuracy and cutting-edge convenience is a clear one—the more cabinets, the better.
1920s kitchen cabinets 3

1920s Kitchen Cabinets

All of this research into efficiency design came together in mid-1920s Europe, where, thanks to high population densities and a serious housing crunch, well-designed kitchen space was in much greater demand than in the United States. In 1925, the Frankfurt kitchen debuted, built around a unified concept and designed to enable efficient work; it would forever change the way kitchens were viewed.
1920s kitchen cabinets 4

1920s Kitchen Cabinets

Designed by the Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, the Frankfurt kitchen was the first to boast modular cabinets and thoughtful, fitted features that used every nook and cranny of space. The Frankfurt kitchen boasted waist-level cabinets with hinged fronts and overhead cabinets with sliding doors. There were rows of integrated aluminum drawers and bins made of oak (the wood repelled mealworms) for storing flour. There was a built-in garbage drawer for scraps, as well as a work counter, a rack for drying dishes installed over the drain board beside the sink, and a layout that optimized workflow. Similar kitchen designs were soon the standard throughout Europe, and it wasn't long before the designs became popular in the United States, too.
1920s kitchen cabinets 5

1920s Kitchen Cabinets

It’s easier than ever to find period-accurate lighting and hardware (try Rejuvenation or search the Houzz Shop for starters), and these details can make a big difference in the look and feel of your kitchen. If you know the year your home was built, track down lighting and cabinet pulls in the style that would have been used at that time (1920s or 1930s, for instance) for a vintage makeover. 3. Refurbished vintage range. Some cooks swear by the heft and power of vintage stoves — and with companies refurbishing them to work in modern kitchens, you can have a vintage range that doesn’t just look the part but works well too.
1920s kitchen cabinets 6

1920s Kitchen Cabinets

The style of the entire space is appropriate to a building from the 1920s, but the green kitchen cabinetry feels very on trend. “I brought in small elements of contemporary details that help the space feel current, despite its history and pedigree,” says Natale.
1920s kitchen cabinets 7

1920s Kitchen Cabinets

Companies like Big Chill (whose products are seen here) turn out refrigerators, stoves and more that fit with a retro aesthetic and come with Energy Star ratings. Retro or vintage: What’s the difference? These terms tend to be used interchangeably, but more often retro refers to 1940s and 1950s style, while vintage can stretch back to the 1920s.
1920s kitchen cabinets 8

Just for fun, here’s a gallery of 1920s kitchens. Even though these kitchens are nearly 100 years old, you’ll spot some of the same features in the modern kitchens below — proof that these elements are truly timeless. (You can visit Antique Home Style for even more kitchens from this era.)
1920s kitchen cabinets 9

The story of modern kitchen cabinets is full of historical tangents, linked as it is with the emancipation of women, a series of time-and-motion studies, and an early 20th-century quest for efficiency in all things. By modern standards, 19th-century kitchens didn't have cabinets. The rooms were large, open, and utilitarian with a simple worktable, sink, and stove all borne on legs. For most average homeowners, the center worktable and some wall shelves had to suffice for storing all of the cooking implements. In upscale houses, where teams of servants toiled over cooking and serving meals, a pantry provided additional storage. There, an expanse of built-in, floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, called a pantry dresser, was designed to keep pots, china, and food out of sight. While pantry dressers were handy, they were uncommon in the kitchen proper and appeared in more fashionable houses.
1920s kitchen cabinets 10

Within a decade, another innovative woman would take up the cause of kitchen efficiency. Christine Frederick wrote a series of articles for the magazine Ladies' Home Journal during the early years of the 20th century, as well as a number of books, on the subject of how to save time in the kitchen. The Martha Stewart of her day, Frederick went so far as to install a test kitchen in her Long Island home to investigate new ways of preparing and serving food in less time and with less physical exertion, in the hope of making domestic chores less tiresome. She argued for a more thoughtful layout of kitchen appliances and workspace.
1920s kitchen cabinets 11

A new kitchen in the style of an Edwardian kitchen, incorporating all the modern conveniences, but being appropriate to the age of the historic house. The floor is Battleship linoleum, and the cupboards are based on old designs from the 1908 to 1912 period. Another design feature is to make cupboards look like separate pieces of furniture, and not connect the counter at back left, allowing an extra bank of convenient drawers, and a more ‘period’ feel to the room. By using historic design elements that are sympathetic to the house, the design of the kitchen will not ‘date’, or look out of place, as a ‘new’ kitchen would, in only a few years.
1920s kitchen cabinets 12

Commonly known as Hoosiers, a nickname derived from one Indiana company that manufactured them, the cabinets were advertised as helpful time-savers and necessary in every kitchen. “Save miles of steps!” screams one old Hoosier Manufacturing Co. ad, which went on to describe the bulky cabinets as careful housekeepers that save many steps each day and will save work for you.
1920s kitchen cabinets 13

Those early modular systems, referred to in catalogs as kitchen cupboards, were built from a variety of solid wood such as oak, walnut, mahogany, or pine, with cheaper wood sometimes painted a shiny white. These ideas represented major breakthroughs in kitchen design that reverberate to this day. It should be noted, however, that none of these kitchen cupboards stood on support legs. Instead, they sat firmly and flatly on the floor, a new design element intended to alleviate the drudgery of yet another household chore: cleaning beneath bulky furniture.
1920s kitchen cabinets 14

Beecher's kitchen featured built-in bins for staples, such as flour and corn meal, thoughtfully placed to help ease the preparation of food. While her revolutionary ideas didn't immediately take hold, by around 1890 they had become the model for large, freestanding, legged cabinet units full of organized storage compartments, integrated racks, a small counter for food preparation, and a large half-round drawer designed for raising dough. These baking cabinets took American kitchens by storm.
1920s kitchen cabinets 15

Appearing at the same time as the women's emancipation movement and a move to smaller houses in growing suburbs, the cabinets were a huge success. Popular thinking viewed fewer hours spent in the kitchen as liberating. Smaller houses, of course, meant less space for servants, so more and more upper-middle-class women began to do their own cooking. And deprived of domestic help, what housewife didn't want to make her workload a little lighter?
1920s kitchen cabinets 16

When applied to kitchens by Christine Frederick, Taylorist principles became a call for placing major appliances more logically around the room to eliminate unnecessary footsteps and movement that made household duties tiring. Frederick also advocated moving the cabinets traditionally reserved for a butler's pantry into the kitchen itself. As she explained in Household Engineering, the fewer the detached pantries and cupboards, the simpler will be the processes both of preparing and serving food.

Show more picture gallery of 1920s Kitchen Cabinets

Another post that might be interesting for you