Monday, January 13, 2020

A Peek Into a c. 1940 Kitchen

by Denise Weimer

Innovations and advances in technology peppered the years leading up to the Second World War, as my recent research into that time period revealed. So far, it hasn’t yielded a novel, but let’s make a quick blog stop in a spot not unaffected by all that change, a cozy c. 1940 kitchen.

Can you picture the checkered curtains at the windows and smell the cookies baking? Do we have any readers who remember what a kitchen from near this time period looked like? If not their own growing up, perhaps a grandparents’ kitchen which hadn’t evolved?

Kitchen design moved away from freestanding cabinets on legs to a built-in look with appliances fitting flush with the cabinets. Many kitchens featured a large, one-piece sink unit with a draining area and a garbage pail below for compost. Plumbing was against one wall with appliances on the other. The floor might be covered with new Armstrong linoleum and shined with wax.

Automotive design was reflected in appliances from ranges to toasters, boasting smart chrome speed lines and airfoil curves (Old House Online, “The History of Stoves”). Timers and gadgets became popular, but unfortunately, your toaster wasn’t as advanced as it looked. You’d place your decorative chrome unit on the stove and turn your toast manually.

The Magic Chef Series 700 featured an “Artile” surface gas stove. Its automatic button made a match necessary only for lighting the candles on the dinner table. The GE Hotpoint Range of 1932 had a flameless electric coil, and instead of the right rear coil, a pot could be sunk down into the stove for cooking soups. A family could purchase a Frigidaire B-10 electric range for around a hundred dollars.

Refrigerators also offered new luxuries such as crisping pans for veggies and an enclosed compressor in the top, a big change from one in the basement. A small compartment at the center of the top shelf offered a space to make ice cubes. 

Prefer something hot to drink with your cookies? The hot water in our Sunbeam Percolator has bubbled up to the top of the pot and traveled down through the grounds. Coffee’s ready.

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s a managing editor for the historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of almost a dozen published novels and a number of novellas. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:  
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  1. Thanks for the post. I don't remember any kitchens with the features you described, but I can imagine how everyone was excited for the sleeker looks.

  2. Nice! Thanks for stopping by, Connie. Funny, I'm editing a novel from this time period right now. :)