Kitchens have seen more changes than any other room in the house. Originally merely service spaces for cooking, kitchens were strictly functional and contained little in the way of cabinets. Unlike today, the stoves, sinks, and eventually cabinets of early kitchens had legs and were much more like furniture. While kitchens overall have changed dramatically, no aspect of the kitchen has changed more than appliances.
Ranges and refrigerators have seen numerous technological advances as well as drastic changes in appearance. Other appliances that never existed in historic kitchens like microwaves and dishwashers are now common. With all the changes, what are the best appliances to use in the old house kitchen in order to maintain historic character?
The task of finding appliances compatible with historic character is made more difficult by manufacturers who try to introduce fashion into their appliances with curves or a “space-age” appearance. Usually the latest appliance fashion is not compatible with a vintage kitchen and using such appliances works against all other efforts to be historically sympathetic. But there are various strategies to consider for addressing the problem. Since some of the strategies work better with certain appliances, they can be employed in combination to create the best overall look.
The most common strategy is to treat appliances as generic equipment and expose them. Success requires careful consideration of appearance to find a timeless look while ruling-out appliances that have been influenced by fashion. The “professional” range look is the most common example of this. The basic look is similar between manufacturers and comes from the look of commercial ranges, whose appearance has changed little over time.
Stainless steel refrigerators also are examples of this approach, however it’s critical to pay attention to the handles to be successful. It’s possible to also use this approach with dishwashers and microwaves but there seem to be fewer suitable choices. In particular appliance manufacturers seem found of including sweeping curves and plenty of black glass into their microwave designs making the task of selection more difficult.