What Did A Victorian Kitchen Look Like?

Victorian kitchens are almost 200 years old. If you’ve ever asked, what did a Victorian kitchen look like? You’ll find the answer here.

There are many kitchen styles to choose from, so finding the right one takes a little research. Victorian kitchens have a distinct personality. It’s surprising to learn what kitchens were like during this period. 

What Is Victorian Design Style?

Victorian KitchenView in gallery
 KuDa Photography

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

All design eras feature aspects from the previous design style. It isn’t a black and white scene, it’s transitional that the next era will build upon. 

While Victorian kitchens follow different rules, these are things you’d see in generic Victorian homes: marble, wallpaper, intricate designs, and opulent colors. 

Utilitarian Priorities 

Victorian cottage kitchenView in gallery
Caribou Creek Log & Timber

Kitchens from this era were practical. Every feature had a purpose. In the early 1900s, kitchens and homes were separate. 

The kitchens were utilitarian by design. This meant their focus was on utility. If it didn’t have a use, it wasn’t included. 

Utilitarian is similar to minimalistic. In modern times it’s a choice that helps reduce stress. In the Victorian era, it was the norm.  

Pre-WWI, servants were common in the US and Europe. Cooks and scullery maids worked closed away in the kitchen and guests didn’t step foot in there. Kitchen appearance wasn’t important.  

Bedrooms, parlors, and foyers were more attractive to guests. We should make every room appeal to ourselves. 

Victorian Kitchen Components

Victorian Kitchen ComponentsView in gallery
Debra Drake Design

While you can go off looks and style, Victorian kitchens had unique components that completed them. Here are a few items that can help you make your kitchen look Victorian Age.  

Icebox

Iceboxes were the original refrigerators. In 1802, Thomas Moore, an American farmer, came up with the idea as a way to keep food fresh. 

The word “refrigerator” was also Moore’s idea. Today, older people refer to fridges as iceboxes.

A Victorian icebox was oak and had tin or zinc shelving and door lining. The metal was a conductor while the oak kept it insulated. 

Hoosier Cabinet

Hoosier cabinets were quite popular in the early 1900s. They were a luxury that would replace most kitchen cabinets. They consisted of lower cabinets, a bar for prepping food, and an upper cabinet.

The upper cabinet had a flour mill and spice rack. Similar cabinets were hutches, pie safes, and Welsh dressers. China cabinets weren’t popular as they were primarily for displaying dishes. 

Wood Cookstove

Wood Cookstove for victorian kitchensView in gallery
Whitten Architects

wood cookstove was the cooking unit. Cookstoves used charcoal or wood. Bread was baked in a compartment in the stove while soups were prepared on top. 

Gas ranges are a Victorian Era invention, but many homes didn’t use them. It wasn’t until the Victorian age began to fade away that they were introduced to middle-class homes. They were emerging in wealthy homes. 

If you add one item to your Victorian kitchen, let it be a cookstove. They make a huge impact and don’t even need to be operating to have an impact. If you do hook them up and vent them, have a professional do it. 

Wood Or Tile Floors

Historic tile or real wood floors are the two most authentic Victorian kitchen floors. Find tile inspired by the late 1800s for the most authentic floor. Or get a laminate that looks like real wood for the cheapest option.

Stray away from geometric designs or linoleum floors. They are too modern for a Victorian kitchen and will take away from the integrity the other items are building on.

Butcher Block

A butcher block is an authentic feature that functions as a countertop. Homes in the 1800s and early 1900s had butcher blocks in their kitchens. They are made of wood and have square tops.

You can top your butcher block with a dough bowl. It is not the same has a bread bowl. A dough bowl allows you to knead the dough and is a cheap addition to Victorian kitchens.

Period Sink

Victorian cottage kitchenView in gallery

During the Victorian Era, indoor plumbing wasn’t common. People had wood sinks, with ads offering upgrades in the paper. By the 1900s, most sinks were attached to the walls, an upgrade from the bowl and basin sinks.

“If your kitchen sink is worn out, replace it with a steel or graniteware sink. They are clean and sanitary. Our price is right.” The Toronto Star advertised in 1902. Yes, before this time, most people had wooden sinks!

Authentic Touches

You can add flair to your kitchen even if they aren’t functional. A phone from the 1920s can make your kitchen look high-end, while a calendar from the late 1800s will give it a homey feel.

You can search at flea markets and trade centers for items from that era. Most of it will be expensive, but it is possible to find small touches, like cheap dishes.

Wainscot Or Paneling

Wainscoting was popular. This hides items behind it if removable. It could offer a fireproof or waterproof shield behind stoves and sinks. Adding paneling to the bottom half of your walls can add authenticity.

Search for “wainscot paneling” when shopping for paneling. It has grooves in the shape of rectangles or squares and is brown or white. 

Victorian Kitchen Vs. Country Kitchen

Victorian Kitchen Vs. Country KitchenView in gallery
Caribou Creek Log & Timber

During the Victorian Era, in rural areas, the farmhouse was popular.

Most Victorian kitchens were in wealthy homes. Those in the country were heavily wooded and more akin to kitchens seen on “Little House On The Prairie.” The kitchens were small and run by the homeowner, not servants.

For this reason, they weren’t kept away and instead were open. The dining room wasn’t separate. Most true Victorian kitchens were owned by the wealthy and are a style rather, not an era.

The Next Age In Interior Design

Victorian cottage kitchenView in gallery

The era ended with the emergence of WWI. After the war, a new era emerged, which focused on art deco, artisan, and arts and crafts.

Between WWI and the Great Depression, modern art emerged. The design styles became more akin to what we know today. For example, Sandusky, Ohio is a Victorian kitchen hotspot.

Before the changes, the kitchens gave us a glimpse into what life was like before artisan or eclectic designs became popular.

If you like the Victorian style but feel it’s dated, look at the next design period. It is easier to use modern-day appliances in this age.

No matter what you choose, find what works for you. Study kitchen photos and find which ones speak to you. After all, when it comes to personal style, there are no rules. Mix and match until you find that perfect fit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What Are Some Good Victorian Kitchen Extension Ideas?

Side return extensions are trending among Victorian kitchens owners. If you want to turn your kitchen from a narrow space to a wide one, then this extension style is for you. 

What Are Some Hazards To Be Aware Of With Victorian Kitchens?

The most common hazards to be aware of include fire and electrical. When installing a new oven or kitchen island, make sure you follow local regulations.

When in doubt, call a home inspector so they can survey your kitchen.

What Is A Victorian kitchen Garden?

A Victorian kitchen garden is a small place next to a home where vegetables are grown. The gardens are small and serve households. People grow what they need, and nothing more.

Victorian Kitchens Conclusion

If you’re the type who likes to keep things simple, then a Victorian kitchen is for you. There are plenty of styles to choose from and you can mix and match to create a unique design.