History of Kitchen Cabinetry

Kitchen cabinets were invented during the 20th century. The Hoosier cabinet was a precursor to our modern-day kitchen cabinets and become popular during the 1910s.  The Hoosier cabinet was a single piece of furniture, not a built-in, that incorporated valuable storage space and added working surfaces. By the 1920s, over 2 million were sold.

  • Pre-WW-I kitchen cabinets designs. A typical kitchen prior to World War I typically used a freestanding work table or Hoosier cupboards with an additional pantry for dry food storage. Larger homes had cupboards or a butler's pantry which is popular in today's kitchens.  Perishable foods such as meat, milk, fruits, and vegetables were purchased on a daily basis.

  • Post-WW-I, the industrial era. The interest in household efficiency started during the era. Efficiency efforts led to studies about housework in the 1920s and what made a house more efficient. At the time, work surfaces were typically made of stainless steel or linoleum. As the improvements in technology were scaled, industrial-scale kitchen cabinet production was made possible. As refinement and style transitions continued, so did the subsequent developments in kitchen designs, setting the stage for the familiar built-in cabinetry of today.

  • Post-WW-II cabinet design. Built-in cabinets pioneered in the late 1920s in Europe. With better-engineered materials, the frameless cupboard style emerged, most notable for its minimalistic architectural design, which appeared in European kitchen designs and was seen on a worldwide basis soon after.

    In the United States,  countertops made of high-pressure laminates, such as Formica, grew in popularity. These laminates led to the seamless, flush-surface kitchen designs commonly used in today's trending designs. Laminates themselves began to be replaced by solid surface materials, such as quartz and stone material

  • Post-modern cabinet design trends. Cabinet choice has been affected by other elements of kitchen designs.  As an example, post-modern kitchens tend to be identified by having earth tones, hardwood floors, and bare walls in place of wallpaper, which, affecting cabinetry selections. Various kitchen trends including the introduction of more expensive optional features like space-saving appliances, or adding more ovens, thicker, 2" countertops with bevels, honed (or matte surface) finishes, taller base cabinets, task lighting,  taller countertop appliances, and ceilings.

  • Kitchens today. Modern kitchen design has improved as a result of ergonomic studies. One study introduced anthropological scientists studying people interacting with their kitchen and kitchen cabinets. Kitchens today are more extensive; some design trends may have as many as forty to sixty drawers and cabinet doors. Cabinets today offer a variety of features which include deep drawers, pull-out shelves, sponge trays, pull-out hideaway recycling, and garbage containers, pull-out spice racks, corner cabinets with lazy susans, vertical storage for tins and cookie sheets, full-extension drawer sliders, and drawers and doors with soft-close mechanisms enabling drawers to shut quietly.  As homes age, many homeowners face problems unattractive, dated kitchen cabinets. There are a few ways in which a homeowner can update their cabinets. They can buy new ones, refinished the old ones, or resurface the old ones. For more information on cabinet refinishing, click here. By late 2009 to early 2010, there was an emphasis on cabinets designed with environmental considerations. As "green cabinets" were increasing in popularity, and Western countries worked to become more "airtight" to save on HVAC costs, air quality has become an issue in some cases as gases may release from resins as they cure.



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