The Evolution of Kitchen Cabinets

Most kitchens today are already providing what used to be the living room’s main purpose

Most kitchens today are already providing what used to be the living room’s main purpose – entertainment and relaxation. These contain cabinets, which provide storage and beauty to the entire kitchen space.

The pre-20th century homes did not have any of the comfort, amenities and cabinets found in today’s kitchen. The kitchens in America prior to the 20th century were equipped with closet pantries, built in cold larders and freestanding furniture. Most often there were tall hutches that served to provide additional storage for food supply and dinnerware. In the center was a long harvest table, which usually served as the food preparation area. A cast iron or large stone sink served as an area for cleaning and washing the dishes.

With the advent of the 20th century came a lot of changes in the way people live. There was the post-war housing boom that created major changes in the way kitchens were built and furnished. The eating habits of most Americans also underwent changes. People became too busy and they wanted quick food preparation. This resulted to the consumption of more packaged foods. Together with the post-war housing boom and new eating habits of Americans, the kitchen’s basic concept underwent a major evolution.

Cabinetmakers began to specialize in building kitchen and bath cabinets. Most of them abandoned traditional furniture making and focused on the newfound specialization. They began building kitchen cabinets made of plywood as the basic material. Tall hutches, pantry rooms and the long harvest tables began to disappear and were replaced with cabinets. The 20th century America began to enjoy the new face of their kitchen. It now consisted of contiguous runs of upper and lower cabinets with a work counter most often made of plastic laminate. These cabinets ran along the walls of the kitchen.

With the new kitchen cabinet specialization came along new techniques, tools and materials to serve the demand. New cabinet materials like hardwood veneer plywood, medium density fiberboard and other man made sheet goods became readily available in most building materials stores. New cutting tools, edge banding and joining tools also became available. A lot of new hardware started coming out of the market. Hardware used for hanging cabinets, door hinges and shelf supports. Additionally, new developments were made for hardware used in hanging cabinet doors and for drawing the boxes in and out of the cabinets. New innovations were also made for various fixtures including slide out bins, tilt out sink trays, baskets and various shelving. All these new developments in hardware and fixtures added to the convenience and adaptability of the 20th century kitchen.

The new tools and kitchen building materials meant good news to woodworkers and enthusiasts who wanted to build their own kitchen cabinets. The wide availability of these products made their work easier, quicker and more accurate. Mail order tool supplies also became readily available. Tools including guide drill bits for fitting installation, jigs and biscuit joinery tools all helped for the quick assembly of the kitchen cabinets.

The primary goal of most cabinetmakers is construction efficiency. All the new tools, materials and fixtures helped in providing cabinetmakers the necessary requirements to build their kitchen cabinets and attain their goal. Today, we all savor and enjoy the comforts and functions of our kitchens. From the very basic harvest table, hutch and pantry rooms, we now have well functioned and organized kitchen spaces.