1940s Country Kitchens

Written by jan czech
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1940s Country Kitchens
Canister sets were found in 1940s kitchens. (Dynamic Graphics Group/Dynamic Graphics Group/Getty Images)

Kitchens in the 1940s evolved from utilitarian rooms used mainly for food preparation, to bright, cheery spaces featuring modern conveniences. Because a 1940s country kitchen was large enough to contain a kitchen table used for family meals as well as a casual spot to entertain guests, it soon became a gathering place and the hub of the home.


Many 1940s country kitchens featured built-in cupboards. Free standing cupboards like the Hoosier cabinet so popular in the 1930s, slowly became a thing of the past and were replaced by hanging cupboards above the countertops and built in cupboards and drawers underneath. These cupboards were generally made of wood and often painted, although toward the end of the decade, metal cupboards were gaining popularity.


Porcelain topped tables, often with chrome legs, were the height of fashion in the 1940s country kitchen. The chairs often had chrome legs as well and featured brightly coloured padded seats. If a new, modern table was not in the cards for the 1940s housewife, her family probably gathered around an earlier style like a round, oak pedestal table or a rectangular wooden one with an enamel top.


While wood floors, a holdover from earlier kitchen styles, could be found in 1940s country kitchens, linoleum was gaining popularity. Linoleum was installed in sheets that were rolled out over the floor's surface. It cleaned up easily with a wet mop or cloth but had to be waxed to retain its shiny appearance.


Tablecloths, dish towels and curtains in a 1940s kitchen were bright and cheery. They featured fruit, floral, checked, and Dutch designs with tulips and windmills in bright hues like red, blue, yellow and green.


With the end of WWII, factories that had been manufacturing items for the war effort began turning out modern appliances such as electric stoves and refrigerators. These replaced wood burning stoves and iceboxes and became must-haves in the 1940s country kitchen. They saved time and made food preparation and preservation more efficient. Toward the end of the decade, dishwashers came into vogue and electric washing machines and dryers began to take the place of wringer washers and clotheslines and were often installed in the kitchen. Small appliances like stand mixers and electric toasters made the housewife's life easier and were often displayed on the countertop.


Canister sets made of tin or aluminium were commonly seen on the countertops in a 1940s kitchen. Containing staples like flour, sugar and salt, they were graduated in size and featured the same designs found on fabric from that era. These sets were often paired with matching breadboxes and trays. Ceramic salt and pepper shakers were first used in the 1940s. Clocks were hung on the wall and were generally manufactured out of brightly coloured plastic. A 1940s country kitchen might also have boasted a built in ironing board, folded up behind a cupboard door when not in use.

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