What did a Victorian kitchen look like?

by | Feb 12, 2021 | Kitchen | 0 comments

It does not matter how much time you spend in the kitchen, you want it to be a space that makes you feel comfortable. If you want a kitchen island, find a kitchen island that works for you. If you want one Victorian cuisine, so make it happen.

We have already covered a Victorian bathroom, so it’s time to get into a Victorian kitchen and how it differs from other kitchen styles. You may be surprised to find out exactly what a kitchen was like at this age.

What is Victorian design style?

Victorian cuisine
Via KuDa Photography

The Victorian design style is an interior design that draws inspiration from the Victorian era. The visible Victorian designs have Gothic influences such as spiers, dark colors and ironworks, while adding softness that the new era faced.

All design periods have aspects from the previous design style. It is not a black and white scene, it is a transition period that the next era will build on. We’ll talk more about the next era later. Right now we are alone in Victorian style.

While Victorian kitchens follow different rules, these are things you will see in generic Victorian homes: marble, wallpaper, intricate designs and sumptuous colors. This is what you can imagine in a Victorian bathroom, but it is far from fact.

Utilitarian priorities

white and black cookstove on log wallLook in the gallery
Via Caribou Creek by and timber

Remember that even though we see Victorian kitchens as an aesthetic, people in those times saw kitchens as purely utilitarian. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, kitchens were still separated from the rest of the house.

If you do not know what utilitarian design is, here is a brief overview. Utilitarian designs focus on utility and how everything is used. If it does not need, it is not included. This should not be confused with utilitarianism in politics.

In design style, utilitarian looks like minimalist. Though in history it was forced, while in today’s times it is a choice created by the hope of reducing stress. But in the Victorian era, it was just like it was in kitchens.

You see, before WWI, servants were widely used in the United States and Europe. Chefs and laundry girls worked shut away in the kitchen and the guests did not enter there. So appearance meant little or nothing.

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Bedrooms, living rooms and foyer were more attractive to guests and focused on. Kitchens were utilitarian. But that does not mean we can not romanticize the era and our kitchens today. We should make each room appealing to ourselves, homeowners.

Victorian kitchen components

farmhouse kitchen with butcher block
Via Debra Drake Design

While you can only go beyond looks and aesthetics, Victorian kitchens had their own one of components that completed them. Here is a list of things you can use to take your kitchen back to the Victorian era.

Ice box

Ice boxes were known as the first refrigerators. They were invented by an American farmer and cabinetmaker named Thomas Moore in 1802 and were used as the primary source of keeping food fresh for over 150 years.

In fact, Thomas Moore invented the word refrigerator, even though most people called them ice boxes. To this day, seniors will refer to refrigerators as ice boxes, despite running on electricity.

A typical Victorian ice box was made of oak with shelves of tin or zinc and door trim. The metal was a good conductor while oak kept it insulated. If ice was available, ice would be placed in the ice box.

Hoosier cabinet

Hoosier cabinets were quite popular in the early 1900s. They were a luxury item that would replace most kitchen cabinets. They consisted of lower cupboards, a bar for preparing food and a cupboard.

The upper cabinet had a flour mill and a spice rack. Similar cabinets were huts, cake safes and Welsh chests of drawers. China’s cupboards were not yet popular in kitchens, as they were primarily for displaying dishes.

Wooden stoves

woodcookstove on brick wall
Via Whitten Architects

A wood stove was the primary cooking unit of the Victorian era. The stoves were either powered by charcoal or wood. The bread was baked in a room inside the stove while soups were cooked on top.

However, gas areas were invented in the Victorian era, most homes did not use them yet. Only in the Victorian era began to disappear, they were introduced to middle-class homes. But it should be noted that they arrived in affluent homes.

If you only add one thing to your Victorian kitchen, let it be a stove. They have a huge impact and do not even have to be in operation to make an impact. If you connect them and vent them, have a professional do it.

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Wood or tile floors

Historic tile or real wood floors are the two most authentic Victorian kitchen floors. Find tiles inspired by the late 19th century for the most authentic flooring. Or get laminate that looks like real wood for the cheapest solution.

Walk away from geometric designs or linoleum floors. They are far too modern for a Victorian kitchen and will remove the integrity on which the other items are based.

Butcher block

A butcher block is an authentic and homely piece of furniture used as a table top. The homes of the 1800s and early 1900s often contained butcher blocks in their kitchens. They are made of wood and usually have square tops.

Top your butcher block with a dough bowl, not to be confused with a bread bowl as you would see on Panera Bread. A dough bowl was used to knead the dough and is a cheap addition to any Victorian kitchen.

Period sink

metal sink basinLook in the gallery

In the Victorian era, indoor plumbing was still not very common. Many people still had wooden sinks with ads offering upgrades in the paper. In the 1900s, most sinks were attached to the walls, which was an upgrade from the bowl and sink.

“If your kitchen sink is worn, [that is, your old wooden sink] replace it with a steel or granite sink. They are clean and hygienic. Our price is right. The Toronto Star advertised in 1902. Yes, before that time most people had wooden sinks!

Authentic details

You can add authentic details to your Victorian kitchen, even if they are not functional. A phone from the 1920s (though after the Victorian era) can make your kitchen look high-end, while a calendar from the late 1800s can give it a homely feel.

You can trade flea markets and trade markets for goods from that era. Most of it will be expensive, but it is possible to find small details such as dishes that are affordable. Or go all out and fill a completely authentic kitchen.

Wainscot or panels

Wainscoting was popular in the Victorian era. It can hide objects behind it if it can be removed. Or it can offer a fireproof or waterproof shield behind stoves and sinks. Adding panels to the bottom half of your walls can add authenticity.

Search for “wainscot paneling” when shopping for the right type of panels. It usually has grooves in the form of rectangles or squares and is almost always brown or white. This is what you are looking for.

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Victorian Kitchen Vs. Country kitchen

log cabin dining room
Via Caribou Creek by and timber

Just because the Victorian era was in the late 1800s and early 1900s does not mean that there were no other epochs during this time. In rural areas, the farm look was quite popular and not by choice.

Most “Victorian” kitchens were found in wealthy townhouses. Those in the country were heavily wooded and more akin to kitchens seen at Little House On The Prairie. These kitchens were very small and run by the homeowner and not by waiters.

For this reason, they were not kept away, but were open concepts. The dining room was not separate and there were rarely lounges in the foyer. Most genuine Victorian kitchens were owned by the wealthy and are now considered a style rather than an era.

The Next Age In Interior Design

victorian cottage kitchenLook in the gallery

In terms of decor, the Victorian era ended with the advent of the First World War. After the war, a new era emerged that focused on art deco, artisan and arts and crafts.

In this age between World War I and the Great Depression, modern art as we know it was invented. The design styles became more akin to what we know today. It was a lively time in the roaring 20s.

That is why the Victorian era is so popular. Because that was before the changes took place and we can really look into what life was like before artisan styles took over. Before eclectic designs, everyone became furious.

Both eras are inspiring and equally appealing. If you like the Victorian style but feel it is too dated, consider looking at the next age. After all, it is much easier to incorporate modern appliances in this age.

Whatever design style you choose, find what works for you. Look at pictures of authentic kitchens and which ones speak to you. After all, when it comes to personal design style, there are no rules. Mix and match until you find your own fit.

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