Essential elements of Victorian Kitchen Design

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Essential elements of Victorian Kitchen Design

The Victorian kitchen was essentially the heart of the home – the room where the kitchen range stood, where water was heated and where food was prepared and cooked. The Victorian kitchen range was a multi purpose piece of kit which comprised ovens, a boiler and hobs around a central coal fire which was built into the fireplace. So it was naturally a place where people gathered in order to keep warm, eat and relax.

In the homes of the working classes, all Victorian family activities were carried out in the kitchen as this was the only indoor communal area of the house. This included bathtime once a week in the family’s tin bath, using water heated on the kitchen range.

In the more prosperous households the kitchen was the domain of the domestic staff. They not only conducted much of their work here – food preparation and cooking – but in smaller households with one of two staff, they often slept here.

In these houses kitchens were used in conjunction with sculleries – where there would be a sink -  and larders – where food was stored. Before 1900 very few kitchens would have had sinks as washing up, washing of vegetables, washing of clothes and other task involving water were conducted in the scullery. So the kitchen did not typically house food as with the heat from the range, this would have caused food to deteriorate at a fast rate.

An important aspect of Victorian kitchen design was that all surfaces and wall coverings were washable.  Larger Victorian kitchens would have a large central table for the preparation of meals, usually made of pine so that it could be scrubbed clean with sand, soda and water. This scrubbing is what gives these tables and their wooden surfaces, if you are lucky enough to find one in an antique shop, their fabulous character. Often the kitchen floor would be wooden in the areas surrounding the table and tiled underneath the table. For reasons of ease of cleaning, the lower parts of the walls were often tiled with white brick shaped tiles or with tongue and groove wooden panelling painted in gloss wipeable paint.

Cream bevel wall tiles

The upper areas of the walls were usually whitewashed. The cooking equipment, utensils and chinawear were most usually housed in a wooden dresser around 7ft high with shelves on the top level, then drawers to house the utensils and a a cupboard at floor level to house the larger items.

All of the above illustrates the practical and pragmatic approach to Victorian kitchen design – the top requirements were that the room was easy to clean, functional, practical and hygienic with space to move freely around the work areas. This can be easily translated into the design of your Victorian kitchen in your period property.

Victorian kitchen sink

One of the Victorian Emporium's kitchen sink designs

Some key areas to consider in Victorian Kitchen Design

victorian kitchens

Although a Victorian kitchen used to be a place of hard work and  chapped hands, you can recreate the cosy feel with some added hints of modern day comfort. An armchair to relax on whilst you savour the aromas of your hard work; a TV hidden on a wooden dresser. Living in a Victorian house is in no way a compromise in terms of living the life you enjoy.


The Victorian Emporium sells a great choice of products for kitchens such as sinks, taps,cupboard handles and lighting.


Categories: Décor, Rooms  

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