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1930s/40s suburbia: house design and furnishings


Kitchen cabinets in typical 1930s and 1940s kitchens

kitchen cabinet icon for 1930s/1940s house

In the 1940s, there were no fitted kitchens as we know them today, but a kitchen cabinet of the sort seemed to be in all the 'modern' kitchens of the time. It was certainly the forerunner of today's fitted kitchens as it had cupboards, shelves and drawers integrated into a single piece of furniture - and a tall matching cupboard was available where space permitted. This page describes the different types and their clever designs with a place for all standard kitchen equipment.


By the webmaster, based childhood observations, discussions with people who lived in these houses and additional research

These kitchen cabinets were of course all made in the 1930s as nothing non-essential was made in the wartime of the 1940s or the austerity afterwards. All were made from wood by several manufacturers who gave them their own unique names. Ours was called the 'Easy Cabinet', my cousin's was the 'Maid Saver' and my friend's the 'Daintymaid'. If yours was called something different, please let me know.

1930s and 1940s style kitchen cabinet

Appearance of the 1940s kitchen cabinets

Our Easy Cabinet was made of easy-clean varnished wood. It was 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 along the road. Remember there were no shiny plastics or stainless steel. Some families, though, did paint the cupboard doors and drawers.

The photo at the top of the page 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.


At waist height, there was always a slide-out or pull-down white enamelled surface for rolling pastry which was cleverly hidden when not in use. Ours was pull-out, and the space above it closed and opened with a rolling arrangement.

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.

* Photographed in Tilford Rural Life Centre

Text and images are copyright

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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