The evolution of the kitchen

From the least desirable room in the house, to the heart of the home, we explore the history of the kitchen.

Pre-20th century

Historical kitchens were purely functional – dark, smelly and noisy workhouses that were tucked as far way from the rest of the home as possible. In upper class households, such was the desire to segregate food preparation from fine dining that the kitchen and the formal dining area would be rooms apart. Grander homes would also include a butler’s pantry, where the butler and other service staff could prepare food out of the guests’ view.

Even the lower classes would  situate their kitchens away from the centre of the home and closer to the outdoor work areas.

When families did gather together in the kitchen, it was primarily for warmth as the kitchen was the warmest room in the house.

1920s and 30s

During this era, gas stoves were introduced and refrigerators become increasingly popular, phasing out the ice box. There were more conscious efforts to make kitchens feel more comfortable and homey, achieved through decorative flooring and painted cabinets. Appliances and cabinets tended to be freestanding.


Kitchens continues to become more decorative, with plants and china being put out for display purposes.

1947 saw the introduction of the first built-in oven. Built-in cabinets were also introduced, becoming a massive hit.


Popular new house designs saw kitchens moving towards the front of the house.

Appliances such as hand mixers and toaster ovens were introduced.


More and more women were joining the paid workforce, so time-saving appliances such as dishwashers and garbage disposals were popular.

The pantry was reduced to a modest floor-to-ceiling cabinet that merged seamlessly into the design of the main kitchen. This style of pantry remains popular today.


Microwaves exploded in popularity.

The first kitchen island was introduced.


Kitchens continued to grow in size. Thanks to the popularity of Martha Stewart and other home cooks, kitchens included more shelving to accommodate cookbooks for busy women.


There was a huge shift towards ‘gourmet kitchens’ designed to also entertain. Where previously kitchens were separate rooms that could be closed off if desired, open plan designs became trendy.

Granite was the material of choice for bench tops in high-end homes.


The market was flooded with new appliances such as bread makers, doughnut makers and food processors.


The kitchen is now the undisputed queen of the home, where everybody from family to honoured guests can feast, bond, laugh, and ponder the meaning of the universe.

Real estate deals are made or broken by the perceived quality of this all-important room.

Huge cooking ranges, deep drawers and integrated appliances (e.g. fridges masquerading as cupboards) are the current trends.

Butler’s pantries have made a dramatic return – minus the butler, unfortunately. Generally situated just off the kitchen, the butler’s pantry is the perfect place to do those gritty, less Insta-worthy tasks while keeping the main kitchen pristine for guests – both of the physical and virtual kind.

Introducing Stuck On You’s Pantry Labels

Put as much love into your kitchen as it gives to your family. These classy new Pantry Labels ensure that you don’t mix your sugars with your salts (salty chocolate cupcakes, anyone?), your wheat pasta with your gluten-free pasta and your cinnamon with your ground ginger.

Regardless of whether the contents of your pantry are hidden away for Jeeves and Jeeves alone to see, or you prefer to let it all hang out, our range of pantry labels are sure to impress!

Via Giphy

Information sources

Architectural Digest