By CARLY SILVER & AUDREY CHABAUD
Throughout history, the design and usage of the kitchen has changed vastly. In ancient times, the kitchen was a place where friends and neighbors would gather together and cook, as a communal affair. This changed quickly, and the kitchen became viewed as a simply utilitarian room. The kitchen’s main purpose became a place for servants, and staff of the household to prepare meals, and nothing more. This would be a room tucked away, usually towards the back of the house, and closed off by walls. At this time there was no electricity, running water, and gas, like we have now, so cooking was a much more strenuous task, and the kitchen would be a place full of smoke and heat from the fireplaces being used. No guests ever saw the kitchen, and the social room in the house would have been the living room.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the design of the kitchen started to change. This was the tie of the Production Line, so efficiency was an important quality for any working room. Harriet Beecher Stowe and Catherine Beecher developed a kitchen model that started to bring some order to the once chaotic room. Better kitchen appliances were used, and strategic places for utensil storage were created. This was a time when the wood-burning stove was beginning to make its way into homes, causing the kitchen to be much less smokey and cloudy as earlier kitchens.
The early 20th century was a time when there were even further improvements of the efficiency of the kitchen. Running water and gas became common for the home, and post World War One, kitchens were being designed to create the most efficiency of the cook, with as little movement as possible. This lead to the development of the Working Triangle Concept.
The chaos of the kitchen greatly impacted the need to keep this room tucked away and hidden, but as developments were made to change the efficiency of the kitchen, the function would also change.
Today, the kitchen is the central; most used room of the house. The kitchen is a place where people go to congregate and socialize. As opposed to kitchens of the past that were tucked away and hidden, kitchens now have become much more open, with less walls, and strategically placed in close proximity to the living spaces.
When a person throws a party, it is common that the hors de’ouvres are placed on the counter or island in the kitchen, and guests will gather around here to chat and eat. Because of this change, with more people, mainly guests, in the kitchen, the design started to change. Kitchens have now become the most expensive room in a house to renovate. People will spend upwards of $60,000 for kitchen renovations (major work), in order to make their kitchens a beautiful space, comparable to the aesthetic of a living room. Since this is now the room that guests are seeing the most of, homeowners need the best materials and appliances, to show this off.
With beautifully designed kitchens, and guests gathering around the counter, it encourages guests to help out the cook with preparing the meals, and putting them out to be served. While in the past, a servant or chef would be preparing and serving everything, now, homeowners are cooking the meals, and since people are around and gathered in the kitchen it has made them, often, lend a helping hand in terms of serving. Eating as a group, and dinner parties has become less formal. There are still formal dinner parties that happen, but a simple gathering of friends to eat dinner has become much less of an ordeal.
It is thought that in the future, the idea of the kitchen as a space to gather and be social will expand so much more, that it may cause other rooms in the house to be eliminated. Formal dining rooms are being used less and less, that eventually they might be eliminated altogether. With bigger kitchens, people have full sized tables within the room, where a majority of the meals are eaten, and since formal dining rooms seemed to be only used for holidays, or once in a while gatherings for most homeowners, it might mean that the room could be eliminated when renovating.
The amount of walls separating a kitchen from the rest of the house has become less and less, but in the future, having any walls in a kitchen at all will become a thing of the past. Opening up kitchens and removing the walls make it become a more inviting room, and feel more connected to the rest of the house. In fact, it becomes less of a “room” completely, and just the central hub of the home completely. Televisions and computers are already starting to integrate into kitchen design, and this might come even further, in a sense that softer, more relaxing furniture will start working its way in to the kitchen space. Such as, a sofa, or chair. It is the room in the house where the most time is spent, so it should be a comfortable space.
Desks and computers are starting to appear in kitchens, but this is going to become a more mainstream addition to the room, with built in desks, made for this type of work.
Over time, the kitchen has made some great leaps and changes from what it used to be, and its function and design is continually changing. But one thing that seems to be staying is the idea of the kitchen as a social space. All of the changes being made in kitchen design are to accommodate for this.
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Derus, Michele. “Once Again, Kitchen Becomes a Gathering Place.” Orlando Sentinel. 14 Sept. 2003. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
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“Your Kitchen is the Most Important Room in the House.” Intelligence for your Life. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.