Color is creeping back in style as an option for painted kitchen cabinets. This past year with my small design studio, I’ve designed 2 variations of navy blue kitchens (one modern, the other rustic), I painted my kitchen cabinets black (love them) and recently had a client’s kitchen painted a beautiful, soft blue/gray. White will always be a classic option, but increasingly my clients are wanting color. Granted, a lot of them are going for two-toned looks with the uppers kept white, but still – it’s not all white.
Would you like some history about color in American kitchens? Design is not created in a vacuum and our current kitchen trend is based on history. Color in kitchens started to become popular in the 1930’s with the invention of electric appliances, although white kitchens were still incredibly popular (Source).
All white kitchens and bathrooms were a response to the discovery of germs which kicked off an obsession with cleanliness (Source). It’s a good theory – all white gave the germs no place to hide. When I look back at photo’s of these kitchens, they really do look sterile. I imagine a woman obsessed with keeping her small, all-white operating room of a kitchen clean. I can’t imagine many great meals would come of that.
You can only do without fun for so long and bright, colorful, metal cabinets were introduced in Levittown in the late 1940’s and heavily influenced the kitchens in the 1950’s (Source) as the kitchen started to become a very popular room in the home. At this point, women were the main household cook. More masculine, cabinetry didn’t become popular until it became cool and acceptable for men to cook for their families. There’s even a funny article in The Guardian comparing today’s kitchen to the new Man Cave.
Why are colorful painted cabinets coming back in right now? Most likely it’s a response to the all white walls and cabinets that have been popular for so long. I just met with a client today who had been planning to do white cabinets and today has decided she wants a color. I think most people want their kitchen to look just as good as their neighbor’s but they don’t want it to look exactly like their neighbors. A color is an easy way to express individuality and style.
Here are 5 current looks for painted kitchen cabinets – and I couldn’t resist throwing in a few historic kitchens with similar colors for comparison!
I got a little carried away with this post – I had to stop myself from boring you with more details on the history of color in the kitchen! I think the evolution of the kitchen is an interesting one. It seems to be tied up with social and economic class as well as women’s history and our place in the current society.
“Any time women come together with a collective intention, it’s a powerful thing. Whether it’s sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.” – Phylicia Rashad
2 thoughts on “Beyond the Pale: Painted Kitchen Cabinets Now and Then”