Pictures of Kitchens From the 1930s and 1940s

Aga Heat Ltd The Model F Aga Cooker For A Large House Finished In Black And Cream Vitreous Ename Artist: Unknown
Print Collector / Getty Images

When designing a kitchen, it's always instructive to look at "before and after" photosets. But what about "after" photos that are so old that they look like today's "before" photos?

Sometimes I like looking at these creaky-old kitchen "before and after" pictures to remind myself of how the world of home renovations just keeps on changing.

Typical 1930s Kitchen

30s kitchen
General Electric

From a General Electric ad, this "before kitchen" is squarely planted in the 1930s. The floor layout isn't much to speak of plumbing against one wall, appliances against the other wall.

Linoleum is checkerboard, typical of that era. We have a sizable sink flanked by a couple of work areas. Though difficult to see, that's a garbage pail right below the sink--where compostable scraps go.

Even though painted as a dreary "before" kitchen, it's not all that bad. People pay good money nowadays to recreate this kind of kitchen.

The GE ad even crows (about its own GE icebox): "Fifteen years old, and still gives perfect service."

Kitchen From 1945: After the Remodel

40s kitchen
General Electric

After the kitchen remodel, the design is updated by a decade. And since this comes from GE, everything is electric. First the electric stuff: refrigerator, disposal (no more garbage bucket!), range, and dishwasher.

Also, notice the new kitchen cabinets? GE was also in the business of kitchen cabinets for a while (or more accurately, branding out its name).

We've got the five-person breakfast bar, a U-shaped kitchen layout, presumably laminate counters with metal edging, and the banishment of the kitchen table to...where? The garage?

All in all, a very Post-War kitchen remodel. Still, this is a concept kitchen; it represents high hopes. The majority of houses built in 1945 will not be this modern. Give it a few years, though.

Modern Picture of 1930s Kitchen

Modern Day Look at Kitchen from 1930s
Ellenm1 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

It's rare to have a clean, color, modern kitchen of a kitchen from the 1930s. This photo comes from a Flickr user of the Home Arts section of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Here again, as with our earlier image of a Thirties kitchen. Appliances are separate from each other (not clustered in a line or along the counter, as you find today). Appliances all appear to be electric. Note the icebox with the compressor on top.

  • The floor is a severe, functional checkerboard of linoleum.
  • Ironing board inset in the wall.
  • Large, one-piece sink unit with draining area/counter on the left-hand side.

In general, a kitchen that's meant for working. Children might be underfoot, but they certainly would not have been encouraged to linger there. After all, Mama was at work!