1922 Decorating Tip: Avoid White Kitchens

Woman in kitchen
Source: Eddy Engineering Co. advertisement (Cement City Cook Book publsihed by First Baptist Church, Alpena. Michign (1922)

Decorating styles seem like they are constantly changing and evolving. Here is some 1922 advice for how to decorate your kitchen:

We come to realize what a big part color has to play in the attractiveness of the kitchen. Anyone who has both practical and theoretical knowledge of color, as well as of kitchens, knows that the pure white kitchen is a long way from perfection in either looks or cleanliness. The whiteness, no matter how clean it really is, takes on, after a time, a darkening and stained appearance, as though it got tired of being dazzling, with nothing for contrast. So if we want a kitchen to look as clean as it should be, let us give it contrasts of both color and tone. This will need to be done with the advice of someone who really know the technical properties of color combinations, but most of us can make a pretty satisfactory effect, if we use our eyes and copy the tones in nature, which seem to give a particularly clean and clear-cut impression – the beach against blue water, for instance, or a wet tree trunk against green leaves. Is it sensible to try to bring nature into the kitchen? Why not if it is to make life in the kitchen more worth living?

American Cookery (March, 1922)

8 thoughts on “1922 Decorating Tip: Avoid White Kitchens

  1. In the early 90s, I moved to a street of new houses, all with totally white sunny kitchens. I practically needed sunglasses. We all complained about having to bleach the tiles clean and our coffee habit always had the white sink stained. Next, the houses here were built with stained wood and the current homeowners want to change them back to white. My parents’ 1925 original kitchen was all white which they changed out in the 60s to stained wood and stainless steel. Everything comes and goes.

  2. I have white appliances and sink, white backsplash tiles with light brown grout, sort of white flooring; Maple cabinets, dark granite like countertops. I’m pretty sure elements of my kitchen have gone in and out of style a few times in the last 35 years!

  3. This article amuses me, because I designed my gutted kitchen 20 years ago and absolutely no regrets on choosing white walls! Sink countertop is white tile w/black trim, and my cabinets are bleached maple mixed with vintage enamel table tops and 1950s formica: the perfect backdrop for all my kitschy kitchen accessories, mostly from the 1930s-50s. I love my kitchen, altho it needs a serious plumbing re-do thanks to a dead cast iron radiator. But I will keep everything as-is even after a wall is ripped out! So you see, your blog matches my kitchen 🙂

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