Friday, September 10, 2010

10 September 1956 “Kitchen Ideas and is Less More?”

I thought today it would be fun to see some of the great kitchen idea’s found here in the 1950’s. This is definitely a time of DIY and renovation. Post War America not only had the money and the increased production due to the war, but now had the burgeoning middle class. And they were building houses by the thousands and re-doing older homes to fit their new ‘modern’ lifestyle.
Since my 1955 project my esthetic has changed drastically and I know find myself drooling over linoleum flooring and laminate chrome trimmed counter tops. My own very old home needs not only a kitchen renovation but to be completely gutted. We have found that the sills/joist under the kitchen ell are rotting and it needs to be brought down to the very bare bones. This will have to wait until next year and I am going to try and do as much of the labor as I can to save on costs.
But, with the idea of a new kitchen in my future, I am always planning and thinking of new ways to do it. I had originally had plans for a large mudroom and a separate pantry, most likely hold over ideas from the 21st century. Now, the more I study the smaller homes and house plans of the era, the less I realize I need or Want! Less space means you must be more efficient which means running your home like a tight ship. It also means LESS TO CLEAN and less space to store things, therefore we are left to de-clutter our life even more. All of these seem good to me.
Now, onto the fun ideas in the magazines. Click on these photos to see them full size.
kitchenideas1I LOVE this idea of the dual purpose counter. The increased counter space is not simply dead static storage, no, it opens to a griddle! I must tell you gals, I use my griddle every day. I have an old Jenn Air stove that has a griddle attachment for two burners. I just leave this on and only have two burners to use. I have not missed the other two burners that are stored away so that the griddle may be out all the time.
kitchenideas2 What a clever use for extra fabric from you curtains. I like the idea of the divider between the mess of the kitchen and the breakfast table being a continuation of your curtain fabric. It looks lovely above the cabinets on the soffit as well, don’t you think?
kitchenideas5I really like this divider between the dining and kitchen. You can see how the wall opens up to serve as a pass through, thus no sideboard is needed, and also extra storage is available. Yet, a simple closing of those doors and the wall separates the mess of the kitchen for you to enjoy dining. kitchenideas6Here is the kitchen side of that same set up. The pass through and the depth allotted by these cabinets are wonderful for storage, don’t you think? I like the ‘Early American’ look of the wallpaper.
 kitchenideas3 Again, we see a divider. Here they cleverly used frosted glass. The telephone and mail is a nice idea, and it also shows that little bits of the modern world starting to encroach on the beginning of the day. Though, this is a far cry from the multiple texting and internet surfing done at table or the kitchen computer of 2010.
kitchenideas4 I LOVE my marble and use it for all my pastry. It keeps it cold and helps to make a wonderful baked good. I love how here it is imbedded into the counter and I would like a vintage laminate counter (chrome edged) with such inlays of both the marble and the chopping block. And I assume they lift out for easy cleaning.
I have found, lately, that I think more and more of living with less and more simply. It might seem odd, a middle-class homemaker in the middle of 1950’s thinking thus, but I think there is an historical precedent. When I consider my age now, I would obviously have been a War bride. My early marriage would have involved my husband being in the military and my suddenly having to do with much less. It might have been a shock, but over the years one gets used to it.
Using less, having less clothing and things because of the war effort and the scarcity of items and their high cost, would have made it a  necessity to live frugal. So, in some sense, I feel the 1956 me, which is so many ways is really the only me at this point, is simply recalling a time when one needed less. It is lovely to have matching kitchen items and new floors. A home full of furniture and fine things can often seem the ultimate goal here in 1956, but a part of me would recall those war years.
Perhaps in the garden, I might be digging potatoes and stop and remember when all my flower beds and lush lawn were given over to vegetables. There may be moments when I am wrapping up leftovers for the icebox and see the full shelves in the freezer and recall the almost empty larder and smile. The camp coffee, or smoking  your cigarette until it was the smallest nib, adding water to old coffee grounds or using that tea in the pot just once more to make it stretch. And in all the careful planning and doing without, I might recall, standing there in the middle of my living room, art on the walls, shelves full of books and china, cupboards full of Holiday dishes and stacks of linen, that when I had less, when life was simple it some how had a truer almost brighter shine to it.
As if the cold on a winter’s day is more memorable for having bit you to the bone before you went coasting on the old wooden crate, because the metal from your old sled was given to the war effort. The hot chocolate afterwards was recalled more sweet as you huddled in front of the fire, the only source of heat, while the rest of the house was so cold to step on the floor in the frosty morning sent knives through your feet. Now, there standing in the centrally heated and cooled room with plates of thermal glass and thick carpet from wall to wall, it might seem more unreal or cold than that spartan past.
Of course, I haven’t any carpeting but old wood floors, and my windows are single pane deadlies constructed in the 19th century, but I was just considering my 1956 me in my modern sleek temperature controlled home. There must have been moments like that for my older 50’s counterparts who recalled the simpler times and wondered if maybe, just maybe, all the new things out there for sale may not be what we really need to be happy. To be hungry and scared is not good, but to become bloated and spoiled is equally as bad.
There must be a balance, surely. One does not want to live without and to only have the bare necessities is almost not human. Even in the Depression in a cold tar paper shack, I am sure there were family photos or dried flowers tacked to the wall. We need decor, we need to nest and make our living space a home. I just want to strike the balance and not be too far one way or the other. That is the trick of it and I will strive to meet it somehow.
What do you think, for you, is the best balance between less un-cluttered simplicity and homey acquisition of things? It must be different for each of us, but it must be at least considered. We should want our home to feel homey and not that we are possessed by our possessions. How do you strike the perfect balance?
Until tomorrow, Happy Homemaking.
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