12 Vintage Kitchen Features We Were Wrong to Abandon

Modern technology has transformed our kitchens into ultrafunctional work spaces, complete with sleek appliances and high-tech gadgets. But over the years, our focus on innovation has caused us to eliminate many well-loved features of kitchens past. Maybe it's time to reconsider some of those lost gems and welcome these 12 vintage elements back into our homes.

Butler’s Pantry

Butler’s Pantry in Kitchen

Traditionally, homeowners used the butler’s pantry, which was typically nestled between the kitchen and dining room, to store serving items and keep the silver under lock and key. People today rarely have butlers, but a butler’s pantry still serves as a convenient staging area for prepping and serving.

Related: 12 Ideas to Steal from Vintage Kitchens

Jewett Farms + Co. (design); Eric Roth (photography)

Functional Stoves with Storage

Antique Vintage Stoves

With their handy storage compartments and homey appearance, vintage stoves give off a cozy vibe, yet they're surprisingly well suited for hosting a crowd. Their many compartments allow you to cook several dishes at different temperatures while simultaneously keeping other items warm—all in less space than a double oven requires. If you can't find the real McCoy, modern versions of these classics retain the look and functionality of their forebears, but operate more efficiently.

Related: How To: Clean Any Appliance

Emerick Architects

Breakfast Nooks

Breakfast Nook in Kitchen

Starting the day snuggled on a cozy bench with a cup of coffee sounds extremely enticing, which may explain the past popularity of breakfast nooks. Although homeowners rarely include breakfast nooks in their kitchen plans these days, the intimate little seats would be ideal for enjoying a morning meal or after-school snacks. 

Related: 10 Nice Nooks: They're Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Structures Building Inc.Dan Cutrona Photography

Built-In Spice Rack

Built-In Spice Rack in Kitchen

When built-in cabinets became the norm, the traditional wall-hung spice rack disappeared from kitchens. Now that herbs and spices have been largely shut out of view, we miss their vibrant colors and textures, which almost beg to be displayed as decor. Plus, keeping herbs, spices, and oils close at hand can really speed up food prep.

Related: 10 Clever DIY Ways to Store Kitchen Spices



Fireplace in the Kitchen

The kitchen is the center of the home, where family and friends gather to cook, chat, and eat. Although a fireplace isn’t required for cooking in our modern era, it can make the kitchen more inviting and comfortable.

Related: 10 Steps to Readying Your Fireplace for Winter


China Cabinets

Use China Cabinets for Storage

Entertaining is far less formal than it was 50 or 100 years ago. As a result, many families don’t even own "good china" anymore, making the traditional china cabinet obsolete. But this piece of furniture can do so much more than just store and display dinnerware. Modern homeowners can use a china cabinet for storage, or flaunt it as the focal point of the dining room.

Related: 11 Cheap Cures for a Cluttered Kitchen


Wood Stove

Wood Stove in Modern Kitchen

More homeowners should seriously consider incorporating a multifunctional wood stove into the kitchen. This old-fashioned classic provides economical, effective heating that won’t fail when the power goes out. Plus, a wood stove can double as a stovetop, and because burning wood is considered carbon neutral, it's environmentally friendly too.

Related: Buyer's Guide: The Best Wood Stoves


Mounted Plate Rack

Mounted Plate Rack in Kitchen

The vintage plate rack was a smart storage solution that kept plates and serving platters tidy and easily accessible. Even today's kitchens could benefit from the visual appeal and handy functionality of a plate rack.

Related: 21 Brilliant Hacks for an Organized Kitchen


Hoosier Cabinets

Hoosier Cabinets in Vintage Kitchens

In the early 20th century, most kitchens didn’t come equipped with built-in cabinetry. As a solution, the Hoosier Manufacturing Company adapted their baker’s cabinet to create a well-organized storage center and work area for the home cook. These days, a Hoosier cabinet can be particularly beneficial in a small kitchen, because it packs a lot of storage and counter space into a tiny footprint.

Related: 11 “Zero Dollar” Ways to Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets

Image Design LLC

Butcher Block

Butcher Block Countertop in Kitchen

Butcher block has been a mainstay in restaurants, home kitchens, and, of course, butcher shops for centuries. As wood tends to warp with repeated exposure to water, homeowners of the past typically used butcher block for stand-alone islands in the middle of the kitchen. Nowadays, people have largely forsaken butcher block, turning instead to countertop materials like granite and marble, but butcher block has several advantages over these trendy stones. It adds visual warmth, it isn't too difficult to maintain, it's usually one of the cheaper countertop alternatives—and, unlike most other materials, you can safely cut on it.

Related: 8 Countertops You'd Never Believe Were Handmade


Farmhouse Sinks

Farmhouse Sink in Kitchen

Farmhouse sinks hark back to a time when water had to be hauled to the kitchen from springs and wells. But these fixtures have much more to offer than their rustic vibe. The deeper bowl is great for washing large pots and pans, and the apron front is ergonomically friendly. This combination of aesthetics and utility makes it no surprise that the farmhouse sink has been trending in recent years.

Related: 9 Handy Under-Sink Organizers to Buy or DIY

Fredendall Building Company

Horizontal Double Ovens

Horizontal Double Ovens

Owing to its generous capacity and cooking flexibility, the double oven has never really gone out of style. But most double ovens on the market today are stacked vertically, whereas vintage kitchens featured horizontally oriented ovens. Now that larger, six- and eight-burner cooktops are rising in popularity, the timing is perfect for side-by-side double ovens to make a comeback.

Related: 7 Clever (Unauthorized) Uses for Common Appliances


Don't Miss!


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