Today we’re going to travel through time and take a look at the history of kitchens.

Breaking bread is such a time honored and valued tradition that it has given a special relevance to this space where we congregate and socialize with our loved ones. But it hasn’t always been such a pleasant environment, this room has traveled down a long and winding road throughout history. Sometimes being part of the only room in a dwelling, while at other times being in the back of the house as far away from guests as possible.

the history of kitchens

Ancient Egypt:

Although we know very little about Ancient Egypt, the hieroglyphics, tools, and pottery discovered over the years have left us a general idea of what their kitchens looked like, and the tools that they used. As is often the case, the kitchen was a crucial aspect of Ancient Egyptian culture.

Its shape and size was very different from one house, temple, or palace to another. Sometimes being the only room in a tiny home, other times being a large area inside of a palace. The tools used by the Egyptians were quite simple. They employed hearths, ovens, mortars, metal blades, vessels, stone and clay urns, baskets, pans, plates, pitchers, sieves, and pestles for grinding. They used these tools to make meals such as bread, beer, wine, meat, kababs, stews, fowl eggs, and more. But they primarily consumed bread, beer, and vegetables.

1200px-egyptian_kitchen_berlin_1Picture #1

 


Ancient Rome:

Peasant Romans usually lived with their whole family in one small room. Much like the poor working class of Egypt, they didn’t have a separate room for their cooking area. As a result they cooked on a brazier in their room, or bought food from street vendors, already cooked. Alternately, slightly more well off Romans who could afford a space big enough to have a courtyard and had the luxury of cooking outside, weather permitting. Their braziers were portable so they could easily move their cooking area from outside to inside.

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Picture #2: courtesy https://dgh.wikispaces.com/Ancient+Rome

Wealthy Romans had kitchens in their houses, but they didn’t cook in them themselves – they had slaves to cook for them. Because of this, Roman kitchens were tiny, cramped, and in the back of the house where nobody would see them.

These kitchens usually had clay ovens, with a burner on top similar to our stoves, except it was heated by a charcoal fire (see picture #2). Sometimes they had wooden cupboards to keep the dishes and food in and they had racks on their walls for pots and pans. Romans sometimes used flues inside their walls to draw smoke out, but chimneys only appeared in large dwellings such as castles in the 12th century. The earliest extant example of a chimney is in 1185 at the Conisbrough Castle in Yorkshire.

 


Middle Ages:

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For the peasant cooking was done over an open fire of a one room home, just like the peasants in our last two sections. Life revolved around the cooking area because it was the source of light, heat, safety, and of course, food. They would often use a hearth, smoke rose through a louver. A  louver is a domed  ventilation structure on a roof that could be closed by pulling strings, like Venetian blinds.

Wealthy individuals dined in their great halls, some of which had chimneys  and others did not. Although the chimney was invented in 1185 the internet wasn’t around quite yet so it took some time for word to spread.

This short video has some very good information about kitchens in the middle ages:

Medieval Castle kitchens were a different beast all together. They were placed outside of the Great Hall for fire safety. With spits roasting meat and large, iron cauldrons bubbling with soups and stews. Lambs, cattle, pigs, and ducks were tethered or penned nearby, some castles kept a pond stocked with fish. Herbs and vegetables would be grown in nearby gardens. Castle kitchens could be large enough to roast up to three whole oxen at a time, with feasts often reaching epic proportions.


18th & 19th Century:

This clip sheds some light on 18th century kitchens:

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Picture #4

Here we saw a rise in the french style of cooking all over Europe and North America. This meant strict etiquette, sophisticated dishes, and formal table settings. Servants played a large role in the kitchen, serving multiple dishes per course at dinner parties that lasted for hours. Dinner was often the highlight of the day and could last for hours.

 

zlata_koruna_kitchenThere were a lot of technical advancements in this era. This greatly reduce time and labor in the kitchen. One of the most interesting of these being the turnspit dog (seen in picture #4). This was a dog that was specifically bred to run in what was basically a hamster wheel that spun a roasting wheel. This trend didn’t last for too long however, because other mechanisms that work  similar to clocks were invented to keep the roasting wheel moving.

A few more important inventions were the use of coal, gas, cast iron, electricity, and plumbing. These obviously had huge impacts on the kitchen. Cast iron stoves became a staple in kitchens around 1850, and were infinitely more efficient than cooking in a fireplace. Although kitchens became much more pleasant to work in during this period, people still did not entertain guests in this area, and there was little to no storage space.

 


Early 1900s:

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Frankfort Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gas became the preferred source of heat and the kitchen as we know it slowly began to take shape. Efficiency took hold and kitchens became more practical. Just before the turn of the century Hoosier manufacturing company revolutionized kitchens with their cabinets. This began the cabinet evolution that eventually led to the seamless contemporary cabinets of today. In the 1920s came the Frankfort kitchen, designed by a German named Frederick Winslow Taylor. His focus on organization and making sure that all necessary items were within arms reach changed the way people thought about kitchen design.


1930’s & 40’s:

White House Kitchen 1948

White House Kitchen 1948 (an example of a fitted kitchen)

Another name for a Frankfort kitchen is a “fitted kitchen.” This is often used to describe a kitchen that was made in his style but not actually designed by Frankfort himself. This style blossomed during the 30’s and 40’s for those who could afford it. A fitted kitchen has cupboards, shelves, and appliances that are fixed in particular places where they fit exactly. Fitted cabinetry and appliances helped create a more intentional, attractive kitchen, and improved the workflow within the space. The invention of labor-saving devices, time-saving tools, more stylish kitchen designs made the space more comfortable, and a source of pride.


 

1950’s Through the 1980’s:
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With the war finally over and soldiers returning home we saw a large interest in home cooking, kitchen utensils, and entertaining guests. That combined with post World War 2 technological advancements had a huge impact on kitchen appliances. Quiet ventilation hoods, shiny ovens with matching refrigerators, microwaves, dishwashers, and designer countertops all became common place. Life was happening, once again, in the kitchen. The kitchen became a source for honing culinary crafts, displaying designer cookware and served as the hub for social activity. By the 1980’s, the idea of a completely open kitchen, with appliances designed to show off, came into being. Thus giving birth to the trophy kitchen.


The 1990’s:

A few trends from the 90’s were oak kitchen cabinets, brass lighting fixtures, white kitchens, ivy wall designs, black granite countertops, black and white tile, and hunter green paint. The 90’s saw a lot of self expression and individuality which carried over into the kitchen. Zen Buddhism was growing in popularity and led to a lot of Japanese decor entering the American household. Simultaneously other folks we’re covering their kitchens with pine tables and pine cabinets. Decor varied greatly in this era but one thing most kitchens had in common was an L shaped working area.


Kitchens of Today:

Kitchens these days may vary greatly from home to home, but there are a few trends dominating the current marketplace. Right now we’re seeing a lot of contemporary kitchens. A true contemporary kitchen elegantly blends beauty and function. As a result, we see a lot of cool colors, lots of cabinet space, large islands, and quartz countertops. As for cabinets design we’re seeing a lot of clean lines, veneers, and doors without handles. Below is an example of a contemporary kitchen that’s common to see in higher end homes. Notice how the cabinets are integrated with the wall and give a seamless appearance. The appliances are also seamlessly integrated into the wall. A direct evolution of the the Frankfort Kitchen. As years pass this space will evolve more. No one knows for sure what the next revolutionary innovation will be but it will be interesting to the next step in the history of kitchens.

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A kitchen is the point of the home where most of the shared living occurs, it’s the heart of a home. This is where we break bread, share drinks, and converse with our family. Many families are often so busy that breakfast or dinner may be the only time where they all sit down and enjoy each others presence.

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As a result, the platform of this room becomes a significant stage for home life. The Aesthetics, function, and interest invested in the kitchen design will reflect on your environment and experience. Here are a few kitchen design tips to help you acheive a contemporary look.

Tip #1 – Cool color tones:

Cool tones are seeming to dominate a vast majority of contemporary kitchens. They have a very clean, modern look and can help you feel calm & tranquil.

 

 

Profundo (Blue Agate)

Tip #2 – Clean, seamless cabinets:

Clean cabinet lines can do wonders. One can design cabinets in a such a way that they become completely integrated with the wall. See the cabinets in the picture below.

 

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This particular cabinet doesn’t have handles, which adds to the seamlessness.

Tip #3 – Quartz countertops:

Quartz countertops are ideal because of their durability and aesthetics. We’re particularly fond of the waterfall affect on this island countertop:

 

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The absence of a line between the counter and the base makes a significant difference. This is created in two ways here. First by the waterfall on the left, and second by having the quartz stick out a few inches on the right, thus hiding the seem between the countertop and the cabinets.

Tip #4 – An open layout:

An open layout is of the utmost importance. Notice how inviting the kitchen pictured above is. This layout is conducive to a social environment and allows the people cooking to interact with the rest of the crowd.  Additionally, it lets more natural light enter the room. Closed off kitchens do indeed have some redeeming qualities, but the current trend leans toward an open layout.

It simply isn’t possible to apply all of these rules to every kitchen. But if you take a step back to analyze what your kitchen is most often used for, then take that into consideration while designing it. You can take steps toward creating an environment where your family can flourish together. Understanding that the kitchen is the heart of the home is the first step. Once there you can nourish that heart and allow the beat of the kitchen to resonate throughout your household.


Hotel Rogner Bad Blumau, Austria
ARCHITECT: FRIEDENSREICH HUNDERTWASSER
BUILT: 1997

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Photo by Intentionalart, via Creative Commons.
Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser has made his distaste for straight lines quite apparent, which he once labeled as “a tool of the devil.” One would be hard pressed to find a straight line in his most famous project, Rogner Bad Blumau. This seemingly mythical hotel is tucked into some beautiful rolling hills in the Austrian countryside. All of the buildings are adorned with colorful patchwork facades, uneven windows, princess towers, and most notably…grass-coated roofs. The grass coated roofs give the illusion of the structures actually being a part of the beautiful rolling hills. In his manifesto Mouldiness Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture he stated: “We should reject any modern architecture in which the straight line or the circle have been employed…The straight line is not a creative line, but simply a reproductive lie. In it there live not God and human spirit, but a mass created, brainless ant addicted to comfort.”

The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
ARCHITECT: Frank Gehry
BUILT: 2007

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LAS VEGAS – JUNE 18 : The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in downtown Las Vegas Nevada on June 18 2016 the modern building designed by the architect Frank Gehry
This Dr. Suess esque building is quite an achievement. Gehry’s ability to break rules and make strides in architectural design is unmatched. His works are the most distinctive and innovative architectural phenomena in existence. His deconstructive structures are iconic, as such, tourists flock to his buildings around the world and marvel at the forms he has created. Labeled by Vanity Fair as “the most important architect of our age,” he continues to inspire all of us with his unique designs.

Burj Al Arab in Dubai
ARCHITECT: Tom Wright
BUILT: 1999

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Dubai United Arab Emirates – Dec 2 2014 : View of the illuminated Burj Al Arab at the sunset. View from the Jumeirah beach. Burj Al Arab is a luxury 7 stars hotel built on an artificial island.
This man doesn’t have the repertoire that some other architects in this article have, as none of his other structures are as distinct. But this building is the most recognizable in Dubai. It is acclaimed for its endless luxury as a hotel and also one of the most recognizable buildings in modern architecture. Noted with the world’s tallest atrium, and equipped with its own helicopter landing pad and the tallest tennis court in the world. Tom Wright has most definitely made his mark on the world with this wonderful building.

The Sustainability Treehouse
ARCHITECT: MITHUN
BUILT: 2013

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Photo by Joe Fletcher
Located in a forest at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, this interactive facility serves as an icon for adventurous design, sustainability, and high performance construction. Travelers climb indoor and outdoor platforms to experience the forest from multiple vantage points. They engage with educational exhibits that explore the site and ecosystem at the levels of ground, tree canopy, and sky. Innovative green building systems—including a 6,450-watt photovoltaic array output, two 4,000-watt wind turbines, and a 1,000-gallon cistern and water cleansing system—combine to yield a net-zero energy and net-zero water facility that touches its site lightly.


Respect for oneself and the environment from which one is born are of the utmost importance. We believe a company that respects itself must be aware the future and our environment. For this reason most of the products we offer are eco friendly. Blue Green Transparent Sphere

Two of the quartz manufacturers we use stand out when it comes to their environmental commitments.

CaesarStone not only offers a line of products which includes up to 42% post-consumer recycled material, its manufacturing and transportation practices are central to its environmental commitment.

Cambria: According to its website, its quartz is mostly mined and manufactured in the USA. The company recycles 100% of water used in the manufacturing process and even recycles storm water captured on the property. Environmental best practices are used throughout the manufacturing and packaging of Cambria products and even in its head office.

As for our kitchens, we promote manufacturers that are CO2 neutral, that use water consciously, that are thoughtful in terms of mobility and unnecessary transportation of goods. Renewable energy and recyclable materials are part of our everyday way of doing things. So we promote manufactures that do the same.

The glues, stains, and varnishes that we use to make our In Haus kitchens do not contain urea-formaldehyde or other harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds).  This results in better air quality for your home. One third of the energy used to construct our In Haus kitchens comes from solar panels and the rest is externally purchased green energy.

As more information about harmful additives, by-products, and hazardous components reveal themselves to be present in various building materials. We become more aware of the impact that these substances have on the earth and our health. Not only is health consciousness an issue, but the sustainability of the forests worldwide. That’s why our wood floors are made by Eco Friendly products and the lumber is taken from forests that are properly managed and maintained. We’re aware they many companies are doing more than us to help the environment. But everyday we take small steps toward bettering ourselves and the products we sell.