Fashion can be fickle, but also cyclical. Home design in particular is difficult -- we'd like to choose a style that's fashionable this year but won't be at risk of looking dated next year. One way to skirt this problem is to find a design that's already "dated" yet endures the test of time. Kitchen designs from the mid-20th century (1940s-1960s) are coming back in vogue, particularly because of the feelings they evoke. Fond memories of parents and grandparents cooking and cleaning in a kitchen draped in cheerful colors, steel cabinets and sleek metal appliances are common mental images of the ideal kitchen.
The generation that designed midcentury kitchens emerged from a tumultuous time following the Great Depression in the 1930s and the rationing of World War II. Finally, after the war, people had jobs and -- thanks to a boom of post-wartime production -- products to buy. People were ready to splurge, but smart consumers with fresh memories of the Depression knew the value of a dollar and therefore wanted quality products.
Today, thanks to an increased interest in cooking and eating healthy as opposed to prepared and processed foods, the kitchen itself is regaining the spotlight as the most important room in the house. Just as our grandmothers made everything from scratch from fresh, local ingredients, we're rediscovering the value of those methods. Likewise, we want the style of our kitchen to reflect that pastime and those old-fashioned values. Efficiency, by the way, was also a priority, as Americans adapted to fitted kitchens after the war, maximizing the available space in modestly small houses.
And then there are those of us who simply adore midcentury America's cool, sleek style, which is making a comeback largely thanks hit TV dramas like "Mad Men." But whatever the reason, it's clear that retro kitchens are back in style. On the next page, we'll discuss the elements that go in to making your kitchen retro.