Saturday, January 03, 2009

Kitchen Design: Then and Now

B. and I were noodling around an old book store last week when he spotted this book.
Published in 1950, it was written to empower "Joe Average" to take on the task of building a house ALL BY HIMSELF, for a mere $3,500.
We love the book because it has detailed information about building techniques that were used in 1950.
I was interested in what the book had to say about kitchen design.
Are you curious too?
What were the design specifications for a modest "build it yourself" kitchen in 1950?

Cabinets were to be built from plywood, and painted with enamel paint.

The counter top?

No granite or Corian. No sirree. Not when you could simply use LINOLEUM for your counter tops!

I have never seen a linoleum counter top personally, but I do know the stuff wears like iron and was inexpensive compare to tile.

Now pay attention ladies: All you need for an efficient "modern" kitchen are places for 22 items.

A bread cutting board (number 5) and a regular cutting board (number 6).

Notice a drawer is designated for recipes, while two drawers were specified for towels: hand towels and dish towels were stored separately.

Think you could cook for your brood with just this little nook to work in?

I imagine plenty of home makers churned out three meals a day without a second thought in exactly such a space.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch (house that is...)

The watermelon red kitchen is no more.

Time for me to start narrowing my choices on kitchen cabinets.

I've had my moments when I felt like saying "plywood slab cabinet doors, paint them soft yellow, and slap on a linoleum counter tops please" just because it would be so amazing to do so.

Oh, and a Hudee ring around the sink would be cool too.

("Hudee" is the proper spelling of hootie, btw Vicki. I knew you'd appreciate that little detail!)

But really, what has been even more amazing to me is looking at the kitchen magazines out there.
Oh my lordy....who on earth needs a 1,000 square foot kitchen, with granite quarried in a specific location, and cabinets with paint and glaze and aging and glass and....and....and....

Seriously, $200,000 kitchens?

$500,000 kitchens?

$800,000 kitchens?

For that much money, who even NEEDS a kitchen?

I could go out to eat for the rest of my life for that much money!




On a much more modest scale of thinking:

I'm sort of thinking this style cabinet (with maybe one more "stair step" inside the frame.



I like the Praline color finish, but don't want all the details on that style cabinet door though.


It is really pretty, but good grief, if I were to spill a sack of flour or knock over unset jello on that, it would be take me forever to get all clean.


(I live in dread of spilling liquid jello. I still shudder just thinking of the time it happened when the kids were still toddlers. You can imagine the scene....)


So the Praline color (love eating Pralines in New Orleans; maybe that is why I like this color finish) on birch, or clear alder.


Bronze Black hardware.


Glass in the cabinets over the sink, and we're thinking glass that would match the glass that was in the front door. Maybe even a custom circle and square glass insert.


Or maybe not.


And the quartz Alpha Brown for the counter tops. Either we have good taste or a herd mentality; Alpha Brown is currently the most popular quartz counter top at Lowes.


Hmmm....maybe I'm reacting to the too red kitchen by now going to too bland.


It is a start, and I'll run my ideas past the designer on Friday, and let her make suggestions and guide me in making a final decision on this.


The funny part of the whole deal? Lowes worked up a bid on the "mid price" cabinets.


I could have built myself three houses "back in the days" for what it would cost to just put the cabinets in one 350 square foot eat in kitchen today.


And THAT price doesn't even include the appliances!


Bonus material:



The deck surrounded by cottony snow from the snow we had Friday night.



I'm now paying close attention how various trees look in snow. This is a tree on the uphill or eastern side of our back yard.



Mt Olympus in fresh snow.

10 comments:

running wildly said...

Oh gosh.....a whole house for $3500? Nowadays it would be a pretty sturdy cardboard box. Geeze. Times sure have changed. Can't wait to see the final kitchen results! The kitchen is soooooooo the main pulse of the house so I'm sure it will be a lovely choice. happy choosing!

Vicki said...

Gee...I've had apartment kitchens larger than that one in the book!

Back when my country-folk grandparents were getting married, the knot couldn't be tied until an appropriate house was built. My mother has the old farm account book; I can't remember how 'inexpensively' they built that two-story farmhouse for, but it was in the three-digits (1920s). My grandpa and his brothers built it...linoleum on the kitchen countertops and all! Of course, they built their own sawmill on the property and they had 500 acres of mostly wooded property to work with.

Thank you so much for the correct spelling of hudee! My step-dad taught us what it was, but I wonder if he knew how to spell it.

Dawn said...

Hey! That 50's version IS my kitchen!
The only differences: I have doors under my sink for storage...and I don't have linoleum (?) counter tops.
Raised five with that little space called a kitchen. A hoosier gives me a little more space to store things and some work space.
I told you my house was vintage.
:)
Enjoy the remodel.
So many decisions.
Can't wait to see your place all "Jilled" up!

Lovella said...

Oh I loved seeing the layout for the old kitchen, like a play house for little girls now a days. Kind of sad that we have so much stuff that we couldn't possibly fit it all in those well designed and already prethought out spots for each necessity. I did smile at the large separate cabinets for each the flour and the sugar. . .woo boy ..yes, how would they have ever known back then, that ladies don't buy their flour and sugar in sacks anymore?
The praline and the matching counter is a really nice match, I like it. I can't wait to see what your designer has to say?
All I can say, is it is a good thing you have contractors, been there done that with my and my beloved doing all the work. . .and I grimaced at the mess. . .
Enjoy the process, it is an adventure, perfect for empty nesters.

Julie said...

I love the pic of what was once the red cabintes! smile.. shows movement - out with the old the new is coming!
And I do like your choices of cupboards and counter .. very pretty. You can always add color in a tile backsplash if you think you are thinking too blah ! smile.

My dad (who was a builder by trade) built us a new house in 1955 - two story, three bedroom - for $8,000.00 .... I'm with you,Jill.. 200,00.00 for JUST the cabintets? no-one would have believed such nonsense back the 'wise' old 50's!

Anonymous said...

Like Julie, my Dad was a building contractor. Both my parents passed away in the past 1 1/2 years, and as I was going through some of his boxes labelled "Business", I was absolutely astonished at what he paid for lots back in the 50's and 60's - and what the houses sold for!!

I couldn't agree with you more about the state of the art, oversized, uber expensive kitchens shown in some new homes today - you could enjoy many fine dining meals for that price!!

And they've started the renos! Looks like they're getting a lot done already - exciting! I really like the counter top choice, by the way.

Lori T

Lin said...

I remember a house we looked at once that had what looked like cabinet doors in the sugar and flour areas, but turned out to be pull-out bins. I always wondered if they put in the whole sack or if they opened it up and used it bulk style. Up there, they didn't have the bug problems we would have down here.

Anyway, I am fairly certain that I remember a potato bin as well. It really was an interesting concept.

I like how there were drawers designated for bread and cake. How do you keep cake in a drawer?

I guess I really am old fashioned. I want the modern conveniences of microwave, garbage disposal, washer and dryer, and dishwasher,but I would like a smaller floorplan than most wives would. I could easily settle for 1,000 sq ft and live very happy with it!

I don't think your colors are bland in the least. I like the way you are coordinating different value of browns. I can picture a very peaceful kitchen. Just add some color on the walls with pictures and in the small appliances for accent and you'll be set. Sometimes the most vivid colors are the small touches instead of large areas. And the smaller touches of colors can be interchanged as time goes on with new colors to keep up with the current styles. It is easier to change the color of your coffee pot or toaster than it is to change the color of your counter top or cabinets.

You're on the right track, Jill!

Lin said...

I remember a house we looked at once that had what looked like cabinet doors in the sugar and flour areas, but turned out to be pull-out bins. I always wondered if they put in the whole sack or if they opened it up and used it bulk style. Up there, they didn't have the bug problems we would have down here.

Anyway, I am fairly certain that I remember a potato bin as well. It really was an interesting concept.

I like how there were drawers designated for bread and cake. How do you keep cake in a drawer?

I guess I really am old fashioned. I want the modern conveniences of microwave, garbage disposal, washer and dryer, and dishwasher,but I would like a smaller floorplan than most wives would. I could easily settle for 1,000 sq ft and live very happy with it!

I don't think your colors are bland in the least. I like the way you are coordinating different value of browns. I can picture a very peaceful kitchen. Just add some color on the walls with pictures and in the small appliances for accent and you'll be set. Sometimes the most vivid colors are the small touches instead of large areas. And the smaller touches of colors can be interchanged as time goes on with new colors to keep up with the current styles. It is easier to change the color of your coffee pot or toaster than it is to change the color of your counter top or cabinets.

You're on the right track, Jill!

Sara said...

I think my kitchen was built in 1941 with the house....maybe renovated along the way (perhaps the 70s), and the cupboard doors are plywood, painted with enamel! No diswasher, and the space for the stove would fit one of those big old gas ranges with the feet and the burners you have to light with a match. I've got a modern gas range, smaller than that, but still have the vent hood with the scalloped edging all around it. Obviously we never got around to remodeling in the 22 years we've been here.

The snow scenes are so pretty....you will really enjoy your deck in the years to come!

Sara said...

PS - and we have a Hudee ring around the kitchen sink - I don't like it.

If I ever get a new kitchen, I'd love to have those cupboard doors with all the details in your "praline" shot...but you are right about the cleaning.

I think your choice is just right for your mid-Century house.