Today, the kitchen island is the heart of the home for many families. It’s where you gather in the morning for a cup of coffee and lunch preparation before rushing off to work, where your kids do their homework while you chop the vegetables in your kitchen for dinner, or where you gather your friends for appetizers at the beginning of an evening. But it hasn’t always been like this and the kitchen island has gone through an interesting evolution in line with the shift in our lives over the 20th century.
Back in the 1800s, the kitchen was located at the back of the house, far away from the parlor and dining room. Kitchens weren’t built for entertaining but for function and guest would never get to this area of the house. Instead, people had servants doing all the unglamorous prep work and the kitchen island was a big, sturdy table used to get the plates ready to be served.
After the Great Depression in the 1930s, people couldn’t afford a live-in help anymore and the first open plan living spaces including kitchens were designed, letting the living and dining areas spill into one another. The split between the serving section and the rest of the house was removed and the kitchen was moved to the forefront of the floor plan, giving the kitchen island new value.
With the increase in high-tech possibilities, the kitchen was no longer synonymous with back-aching work and coffee makers, dish washers and microwaves were added to the kitchen. There was more to be done at the island than just chores, and that invited the rest of the family inside. By the 1950s, the island was a place to grab tea with the neighbor or build a sandwich while chatting about your plans for the weekend.
Nowadays, homeowners want to show off their kitchen to their guests and the kitchen island is now the hub where it all happens. Everyone is welcome to pull up a chair and mingle about. Where it once was a table filled with dirty bowls and sauce spills, it has now become a modern-day parlor room.