Kitchen Appliances of the 70s

Updated February 21, 2017

You really had to be there to appreciate the excitement homemakers felt when a new avocado green refrigerator arrived or an orange countertop was installed back in the 1970s. Colour, of course, wasn't the only benchmark of 1970s kitchens: this was the era that marked the transition of the trash compactor, free-standing freezer chest, dishwasher and microwave oven from rarely seen kitchen features to those found in most homes by the time 1980 arrived. Today, 1970s appliances are fond memories and collector items. Remember that when the appliances in your current kitchen are pronounced downright quirky in the years ahead.

The 1970s Space Race

In the 1970s, kitchens were, for the most part, closed off, walled-in rooms that rarely opened onto dining rooms, family rooms and other living spaces as they do in today's typical home layout. One, perhaps two, entries were the norm, but there were benefits to having so much wall space: all types of new kitchen appliances required power outlets, so having this much wall space meant there were plenty of ways the kitchen could be configured to accommodate them all.

Appliance Colors Mark This Decade

Koehler, maker of faucets and other kitchen fixtures, satisfy nostalgic data seekers by sponsoring a website page that tracks kitchen colours by the decade. According to researchers writing copy for the site, the 1970s kitchen was drab compared to the psychedelic kitchens of the 60s, but that statement is belied by the appliance colours listed on the same page: Harvest Gold, Coppertone, Mexican Sand, Avocado, Brick and Sunflower.

Appliances Didn't Outshine Kitchen Wallpaper

Metallic and flocked wallpaper became extremely popular in kitchens during the 1970s. Eye-opening gold, silver and copper papers splashed with graphics like oversized flowers, geometric shapes and other patterns actually created a nice background for the flat or matt yellow, green or almond refrigerators, stoves, microwave ovens and free-standing freezer cases found in the average home.

Stainless Steel Applances: From Commercial Venues to Homes

In the 1970s, as many appliances ran on gas as they did on electric. Stainless steel stepped out of the industrial setting for the first time and into the typical American kitchen. High-end kitchens found in 1970s editions of Architectural Digest boasted stainless steel stoves, microwaves, dishwashers and trash compactors. Sears, Montgomery Ward and other appliance stores continued to sell avocado green and harvest gold appliances because the rest of the nation had yet to fall in love with stainless steel.

From Pricey to Popular Appliances

What started as frustration when Josephine Cochran grew weary of servants breaking her fine china in 1893, bloomed into an idea beloved by homemakers: the invention of the dishwasher. Once the domain of the wealthy, the dishwasher become one of the most sought-after appliances found in the U.S. home starting in the early 1970s. While the microwave oven was patented in the 1940s, the first countertop unit hit the market in 1967. Between 1970 and 1975, "Americans bought them in droves," according to The People History's website's page on kitchen appliances.

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About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.