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1930s/40s suburbia: house design and furnishings


Kitchen cabinets in typical 1940s kitchens

In the 1940s, there were no fitted kitchens as we know them today, but a kitchen cabinet of the sort illustrated below seemed to be in all kitchens. It was certainly the forerunner as it had cupboards, shelves and drawers integrated into a single piece of furniture. They were several designs, all made of solid wood, some painted, and all cleverly designed for storage of standard kitchen equipment. Also of course all made in the 1930s as nothing non-essential was made in the wartime of the 1940s and the austerity afterwards.

1930s and 1940s style kitchen cabinet

Kitchen 'Easy Cabinet', photographed in Tilford Rural Life Centre. Some pastry boards pulled out and others dropped down.

Ours had drawers replacing the lower right cupboard and a separate, matching full-height cupboard on the right.

These cabinets were made by several manufacturers and all went by different names. Ours was called the 'Easy Cabinet' and my cousin's was the 'Maid Saver'. If yours was called something different, please let me know. At waist height there was a slide-out or pull-down white enamelled surface for rolling out pastry. Ours was pull-out and the space above it closed and opened with a rolling arrangement.

Our Easy Cabinet was varnished wood of a medium colour which would have been called 'light' in those days of dark wood almost everywhere. I suspect that it came with the house when it was built as there were identical ones in other kitchens in the road. Remember there were no shiny plastics or stainless steel.

The photograph shows the cabinet combination which was closest to ours out of all those I have seen in museums. Museums, naturally enough, exist to display what they have, which is why so many doors and drawers are open and so many objects are propped up. In a real 1940s kitchen, everything would have been tidied away after use.

Our Easy Cabinet had a separate, matching shelved cupboard, butting onto it on the right which is not shown in the photo. It was the same height as the Easy Cabinet and including a tall, narrow slot for an ironing board. All sorts of things were poked inside it, including brooms and the electric iron. There was a space for everything.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.

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