A "model kitchen": images of early 20th Century kitchens and kitchen goods
August 14, 2009 4:27 PM   Subscribe

A "model kitchen": images of early 20th Century kitchens and kitchen goods
Images of kitchens from 1905-1925, from advertisements, plan books, and magazine articles, give us a fascinating glimpse into life in the early 20th century -- both idealized (dream kitchens) and real. I built this page while researching ideas to restore my 1911 bungalow kitchen, but found that the collection was too interesting not to share. The rotating "U-Turn-It" apartment fixture is pretty amazing in itself, but there's also the 1917 dishwasher built into a tabletop, the ingenious rotating-out under-drainboard cabinet, floor and cabinet plans, and lots of interesting tidbits of life in that period.
posted by litlnemo (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Posting this got me kind of inspired to improve it a bit, so this afternoon I've divided it up into multiple pages (so it will load faster -- it's image-heavy), and added about 20-30 more images.
posted by litlnemo at 6:06 PM on August 14, 2009

I am interested, however I can neither see the majority of your images, nor understand how to use google books effectively.
posted by sunshinesky at 3:03 AM on August 15, 2009

Hmm. I wonder if the problem is that you are not in the US. I know that sometimes when actually trying to look at the books in Google Books, if you are not in the US, you may not have access to the same books. But since many of these pictures are only images from public domain works, it would be nice if they were visible to everyone.

Is it only the Google Books images that don't show? I have a few other images from other sources.

If it's a widespread problem, I might have to go ahead and host all of the graphics myself to avoid this, but the Google links still might only work for US readers, darn it.
posted by litlnemo at 3:27 AM on August 15, 2009

What's fascinating to me is how many of the counter-level areas (sinks, tables) are on legs rather than cabinets. I suppose cabinetry got a lot cheaper with mass-production. Many of the items look less like installments and more like furniture.

There's also something about older ad copy. When I read ads that were printed more than a few decades ago, often times I want to buy the stuff... even the obsolete stuff. Lots of really quality feature/benefit selling in older ads, without all the huff and fluff, the sensationalism, the distraction.
posted by pengale at 6:46 PM on August 17, 2009

Thanks for this. Much of this works for my 1939 farmhouse kitchen, too, although white wooden cabinets were added in the 1960s, along with a peninsula countertop. I only wish I knew what the kitchen looked like prior that. I like the spare, open look of these kitchens.
posted by apartment dweller at 7:54 AM on August 19, 2009

I do, too. They were very big on keeping the kitchen as bare as possible to make it more sanitary. If you can live without the extra storage, it does have a nice effect.

Our 1911 kitchen was originally quite bare -- one wall had a built-in counter-and-cabinets combo, but none of the other walls had anything. The sink was apparently wall-mounted and had legs under it, and if there was anything else on that wall, it was free-standing. The floor was marbled green linoleum.

In redoing it this year, we put in a vintage-style stove and an 80-year-old fridge, both of which sit on legs. :) But we did put cabinets on the sink wall (and a farmhouse sink, though the house wouldn't have had one of those originally). And instead of green linoleum, we now have red marbled linoleum.
posted by litlnemo at 3:17 PM on August 19, 2009

I love all these old ads. They makes me feel like I should be cleaning.
posted by bigmusic at 5:13 AM on August 21, 2009

Oh, this is great! Do you know of the book (it's recent) America's Kitchens, put together for the Historic New England touring exhibit on kitchens? It's full of images and also goes into the social history that kitchen design reflects. You'd probably really enjoy it!
posted by Miko at 9:12 PM on August 24, 2009

I have that book on my wish list, but haven't picked up a copy yet. I know I would love it!

It was my kitchen project that started me collecting these links, but I also have a strong interest in the social history aspects of the topic as well, and a long-time interest in old advertising and graphic design. So I can spend hours browsing through old magazines looking for material. :)
posted by litlnemo at 1:59 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hmm. I wonder if the problem is that you are not in the US.
That's a shame. I can confirm that from Australia you get a whole bunch of blank snippets (not all though) and 'image not available'. Clicking through to Google Books I get a 'No preview available'.
posted by tellurian at 9:35 PM on September 21, 2009

Argh. Yeah, it's the location restriction, then.

At some point, when I have time, I will change the images to ones that I host myself. The links to Google Books will still be broken, but at least you will be able to see something.

Something else you can try, though -- take one of the URLs, and replace "google.com" with "google.co.au". I've been told that sometimes using your actual country's version of Google Books will solve the problem, other times not.
posted by litlnemo at 2:55 AM on September 23, 2009

take one of the URLs, and replace "google.com" with "google.co.au".
Still no go. Looks like you're right on the location restriction. 'No preview available' for either of the two books by "Sara T. Paul".

The links to Google Books will still be broken, but at least you will be able to see something.
I can see some. Of the 24 images and snippets on the first page, I can see 13. You could be selective in which books you used to make sure that the images could be seen worldwide, but I don't know how you would determine which books are not location specific.
posted by tellurian at 6:35 PM on September 23, 2009

Not very easily, I think.

So I will have "redo the graphics" on my to-do list, I guess. Thanks for the info!
posted by litlnemo at 2:40 AM on September 28, 2009

For those who might still be following this -- I went through last night and replaced all the Google Books images with images hosted on my own server, so if you are not from the US and you were finding that most of the images were blocked, that problem should now be solved and you can now freely enjoy the site. I do have fewer images than before but I was able to replace most of them.

(Google sort of forced my hand by breaking a bunch of the image links -- several of them were suddenly pointing to different images than the ones I had originally linked to. Not cool, Google!)

Anyway, please enjoy the improved site and spread the word. :)
posted by litlnemo at 6:04 AM on May 11, 2010

That's good for me now litlnemo. Ooh! That 'U-turn-it' in the miscellaneous section is crazy. I'll be trying to find out more about that. Thanks.
posted by tellurian at 7:48 PM on May 11, 2010

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