The Evolution of Kitchen Cabinets

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The evolution of kitchen cabinets is quite interesting and shows just how much they are needed and used within the kitchen itself. Kitchen cabinets started out as being a simple way to hide needed items, create a one-stop, all-in-one work area, or as an easy way to display heirloom dinnerware or colorful place settings that add style to the overall kitchen design.

Back in the 1920s, cabinets had a blind-corner pullout, built-in spice racks or were called Hoosier cabinets. Hoosiers were free-standing, filled with little cabinets and drawers that stored flour, sugar, utensils, and other kitchen needs.  Hoosier cabinets had built-in items similar to today’s stand-alone small appliances. You could sift flour, grind meat, and even get a fold-down ironing board! It was meant to save both time and space.

The evolution of kitchen cabinets into the 1930s brought us more modular-style, all-purpose cabinets with continuous countertops. These cabinets were made of metal, countertops were smooth, and their sole design was functionality.

The post-war era (1940-1950) brought about another change in cabinet designs. Kitchen cabinets were no longer just for storing food, supplies, used as cold larders, or the all-around step savers. Kitchens now sported both upper and lower cabinets on the walls, with sliding bins, baskets and trays, and other shelving options.

Evolution of Kitchen Cabinets

Fast forwarding to the 1960s – kitchen cabinets were now made of wood and very colorful, matching all of the appliances.

Cabinets in the 1970s were made from dark wood and had ornate handles. As wood cabinets are costly and warp when exposed to moisture, they are now made with veneers over plywood or finished woods.

Kitchen cabinets can now be made as prefabricated cabinets. In this case, do not let looks fool you. They may seem like they are made from the less costly particle board; high-quality engineered wood is the choice for crafting them. This makes the cabinets more durable than particle board, and they can even hold up under water damage. They are covered with either simulated wood grain or wood veneer, making it look as if they were really solid wood.

If you are interested in seeing pictures of past cabinets and how they evolved from their beginnings, A Brief History of the Kitchen (Reagan, 2015) is a great way to see just how far we have come in bringing kitchen cabinets into the 21st Century and beyond! The pictures depict how vital cabinets are in making one’s kitchen useful, creative, and the center of one’s home.

Kitchen cabinets have come a long way – but basically we still need them. Kitchens are not the same without cabinets. It is part of the room décor and without them where would we hide stuff when the in-laws are coming over? What would we use to keep our spices and dried herbs handy when cooking, or for the “secret stash” for those “need-a-piece-of-chocolate” days?

Looking for tips to help you redesign your current kitchen cabinets? JK Cabinets & Design is a great place to start! The small business serves Phoenix and its surrounding areas for all of a homeowner’s cabinet needs.  Want some ideas? Visit JK Cabinets’ gallery and see for yourself the evolution of kitchen cabinets, and how one of them could be just what you are looking for.

Kitchen cabinets can bring style to your kitchen, and service your needs for many years to come.

(Reagan, A. (2015). A Brief History of the Kitchen. Retrieved from

Evolution of Kitchen Cabinets

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