How to Create a 1930s Kitchen

Olivia Elsher

Jul 27, 2022


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If you’re looking to do a unique kitchen renovation, you could base your design on an era of history and create a 1930s kitchen. 

“Why the 1930s?” you might ask. Well, the 1930s mark a significant time in history. The Great Depression changed kitchens from closed-off servant areas to a part of the household. As suburban homes arose, kitchens were designed with the woman of the house in mind.

Though we’ve shaken off those old-fashioned values, we can still celebrate the unique designs found in that era. 

Here are a few ways to transport your kitchen to the 1930s. 

Farmhouse Sink 

Farmhouse sinks originated in the 17th century, when running water didn’t exist. Manufacturers designed the large basin sinks to hold water collected from an outside source, such as a well or river. 

The original farmhouse sinks appeared first in Ireland and Britain. The early versions had modifications depending on the area’s water availability. The Belfast sink had an overflow that allowed excess water to drain away. The London sink was shallower and kept every last drop inside. 

Due to the sink’s roominess, the farmhouse sink remained popular in homes that gained running water. By the 1930s, designers modified the sinks with plumbing. Families used them to wash produce and do dishes. 

Modern homeowners enjoy farmhouse sinks for their roominess, so they won’t be hard to find for your 1930s kitchen. However, you’ll need to purchase a porcelain, soapstone or enamel sink to get the classic look. 

Lots of Tile

Kitchens in the 1930s were known for their tile. Tile covered the floors and walls, with small tiles being the most popular. 

Square, penny round and hexagonal ceramic tiles were popular choices. Styles ranged from stark white to bright colors, especially blues, greens, yellows and reds. The tile colors on the walls and floors would often contrast with one another.

You can find vintage tiles online or inside many chain hardware stores. 

Pendant Lights

Pendant lights became popular in the 1930s and were commonly used to add lighting in the kitchen. The minimalist style consisted of a bulb hanging from the ceiling by a rod or chain. The bulbs were accompanied by a globe or lampshade. 

Kitchens in the 1930s tended to have windows on both sides, providing natural light during the day, with pendant lights there to provide extra light when it got dark. Pendant lights were typically in found handing from the center of the room or above the sink. 

Kitchen Island

The 1930s is when the modern kitchen island began to appear in suburban homes. Frank Lloyd Wright came up with the idea to open up the serving areas that live-in help used to the main living space as servants were becoming less common. 

Since the Great Depression changed what families can afford, the homemaker became a prominent figure of its use and design. 

Kitchen islands were a staple in 1930s kitchens, usually featured in the center of the floor. Serving as a preparation surface, the islands were used as eating surfaces, with tall chairs sometimes situated along them.

Small islands in the 1930s style can be found online. You can also look in your local antique stores to see if you can find an original. 

Enamel Stove

Enamel stoves and ovens were popular choices for 1930s kitchens. It was in the decade that stove makers were first able to hide the manifold behind the stove’s body. 

The stoves contained a range on top, with pull-down covers for a solid preparation surface when the burners were not in use. 

The stoves came in a variety of colors to fit the homemaker’s aesthetic. You can find the stoves from antique vendors or from private online sellers. 

Monitor Top Refrigerator

An electric ice box-style refrigerator was first introduced in the 1910s and companies began tweaking the design to be more suitable for households. 

Monitor top refrigerators came onto the scene in the late 1920s, with updated units filling kitchens in the 1930s. A small compressor laid on top of the small refrigerators. The refrigerators stood on four short legs and could be accompanied with a freezer, which was a new invention that decade. 

You can find refurbished monitor top refrigerators online for sale, but you’ll want to ensure your home electrical system is compatible with it. 

Designing Your Perfect 1930s Kitchen

The 1930s marked the start of the modern-day kitchen, so basing your design off of this era is a great way to pay homage to that history. 

Keep in mind that if you want to incorporate vintage furniture and appliances into your kitchen as well, you’ll likely be paying more to make sure they are in working order and are compatible with your home. 

Doing a retro renovation is a fun way to create a staple room in your home. Choosing the right light fixtures and tile can give your kitchen the vintage feel you’re looking for. 

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