The differences in '70s '80s & '90s kitchen decor

Updated July 20, 2017

Kitchens are often the centre of a home where people gather and host parties. But this hasn't always been the case. The idea of a kitchen didn't become popular until the 1970s, and since then, kitchen decor has changed drastically. Each decade has brought about a different kitchen decor trend, and it doesn't take much to figure out during which time period a kitchen was built.


Before electricity, running water and modern appliances, kitchens did not exist like we have come to know them today. There was an area for cooking and, perhaps, a table, but the idea of the kitchen being a separate room to cook, entertain and gather didn't exist. However, as the development of appliances and technological advances increased, the square footage of kitchens also had to grow, which resulted in the construction of separate kitchens. And as these new areas grew, so did the desire to make them more visually attractive. As a result, homeowners began to develop an interest in kitchen styles and decor.


Kitchens in the 1970s typically had an eat-at bar with decorative stools. The walls were often painted a bright sunshine yellow, and bench tops and tables were often covered in a coloured laminate like burnt orange. This time period had kitchens filled with appliances and utensils that were avocado green and brown, and Formica tables with chrome legs and matching chairs were also in style. Psychedelic patterned wallpaper and colourful wall art rounded off the kitchen of the 1970s.


By the time the 1980s came around, people had begun to pay more attention to kitchen design. Kitchens were starting to be viewed more as social rooms where friends and family could socialise; as a result, their size started to increase. Laminated, dark cabinets came into fashion, often with hard-to-reach storage, as did various colour Formica countertops. The psychedelic look from the 1970s was replaced with a more conservative ambience, filled with solid woods in warm hues. The layout of 1980s kitchens was often poor because of lack of design experience, and lighting was often dim and dark.


Often similar to the 1980s style, the 1990s kitchen retained Formica countertops, solid wood cabinets and poor lighting. However, this decade did see the introduction of stark-white built-in cabinets and white tables. Sleek and simple was the theme of the 1990s kitchen, which meant an increased interest in white-on-white, monochromatic looks. More appliances became available, and open-plan kitchens started to take off. The island was introduced to allow for a hostess/cook, and kitchens really became a social point for families.

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About the Author

Claire Louise started writing professionally in 2007. She has written for the "Newcastle Morning Herald" and had diet and fitness-related articles published in "Slimming and Health" magazine. Louise holds a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Newcastle.