Sunday, June 12, 2016

Whatever Happened To The Colorful Kitchen?


Avocado. Harvest Gold. Almond. If you were living in an American household at any time from the '60s through the '80s, you're probably familiar with these colors as they applied to kitchen appliances. And if you lived in an American house during the 1950s, perhaps you were even lucky enough to experience a pink kitchen -- just like the one discovered in this Chicago house that was making the Internet rounds last year.

Where did all of that color go? Today -- unless you order from a specialty company that makes vintage style kitchen appliances -- it's virtually impossible to purchase a brand new, groovy fridge or dishwasher in avocado green. Nearly every manufacturer only offers them in a modern but cold-feeling stainless steel, or white. Not long ago I even read that the next trend will be BLACK in the kitchen. Perish the thought! I like my kitchens sunny a la The Brady Bunch, not The Addams Family.

So where did all of the color in kitchen appliances go? According to an Elle Decor article published last year, once American homes started getting bigger, entertaining guests got moved from a separate dining area to spaces that are part of the overall kitchen area, and brightly colored kitchens started to fall by the wayside. I tend to think, however, that it was a decision simply made by appliance companies to move away from offering color coordinated units that would have leftover inventory to simply selling one-shade-fits-all.

I have nothing against the stainless steel finish, but I still have memories of the green fridge and dishwasher from my parents' own home. Today, my mother's kitchen has all white appliances, including the microwave.

So for nostalgia's sake, here's a smattering of ads and photos from kitchens of the past, mostly spotted on Pinterest. Maybe someday they'll make a comeback.













Because who doesn't want their stove matching their dress?


Imagine...people really did this. Covering their fridge's front doors with printed fabric!


And of course, you need smaller kitchen appliances that match the color of the larger ones.

10 comments:

  1. Groovy piece, Pam! Well, you probably know I have a 'harvest gold' GE stove, I love it. 2 years ago it broke down & my apt building told me they'd be replacing it with a newer white model, my sister said I was a dummy but I asked if I could get it repaired instead. They said sure. I got a guy who said it was a 1971 model but they STILL manufactured parts for these "workhorses". He not only fixed it like new, but got me a replacement panel that fits over the burners push buttons.

    All these years and the stove's gold enamel doesn't have a single mark or blemish. I love the darn thing :)

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    1. Hey Doug -- I remember the post about your groovy yellow stove, but didn't know you had it repaired. It's great that they're still carrying the parts for an early '70s stove. I agree; if it works well then why mess around?

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  2. I also think it has something to do with modern decor and the change in American behavior. If you look at decorating magazines and websites, everything seems to have to be bland white, bland wood, and bland metal. Nothing has any personality nor is it memorable or interesting to me. I personally think this light sterile design movement is in direct response to the over-stimulation from screens and rooms taken over by televisions as opposed to walls and other appliances. I also think change in the use of the kitchen and role of women and the American family affected this. If you look at much of the advertising, it caters to women and living their life at home (in the kitchen specifically). People spend less and less time cooking, and more eating out, fast food, and just grabbing a bite as opposed to making a meal from scratch and serving dinner to a family. When you barely use the room or appliances, why spare the added expense for color customization - especially since the style of modern decor is boring? I find it odd that today it seems like people will spare any expense for a phone or a television, but just get the cheapest refrigerator they can when you literally need a refrigeration to live but can literally survive without a television or phone (contrary to popular belief).

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    1. And yet TV and cable is overflowing with cooking shows. Go figure.

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  3. Love the old appliances! Some great ads in your post, Pam!

    When we bought our house 8 years ago, there was a 5 year old Kenmore dishwasher in the kitchen. The motor died less than a year later. Found a FREE mid-80's KitchenAid on craigslist, with interchangeable colored panels on the door and kickplate...white, black, bisque and harvest gold. Guess which color we display in our sunkist orange kitchen? (and yes, the free dishwasher,with NO circuit board or computer is still working well!)

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    Replies
    1. What a great find! And on Craigslist of all places.

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  4. My family was a Harvest Gold family growing up. My grandparents were lime green. My mother still had her Harvest Gold washing machine (matched the kitchen even though it was in the basement!) up until about 10 years ago. I've been through 3 modern washers in the same time.

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  5. OK, this is spooky. Pic 3 looks identical to my family's old kitchen right down to the linoleum. Table is different, but I remember we had those big flower plates too. The matching harvest gold refrigerator is right off camera. Crazy.

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  6. My grandmother covered her refrigerator with floral Contact Paper!

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  7. A note on the last pic: I've never seen a women so happy to receive a coffee pot as a gift, and a green one at that. We were a "goldenrod" family, which is a really cool name for a really puck yuck color.

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