Kitchens today look very different than they did in the 1930s. For one thing, there are a million more gadgets. But even more surprising is that almost a century ago the height of kitchen countertops, sinks, and ovens were custom-made based on the woman of the house — a stark contrast from today's one-size-fits-all model.
Imagine such a comfortable kitchen: Tall ladies wouldn't have to bend so far over and hurt their backs, while short women wouldn't have to spend so much time on step stools.
So what happened? Quartz reports that as demand grew, standardization helped make production easier and faster, which Christine Frederick explains in her book The New Housekeeping: Efficiency Studies in Home Management: "While it's easy enough to make adjustable chairs and bikes, it's much harder to build customization into an entire room filled with chunks of wood and granite wedged between heavy, expensive, factory-made appliances," Frederick wrote.
The sink was the first fixture to get standardized, and everything else followed suit, locking in 36 inches above the floor — too high for the average woman to use comfortably. Quartz speculates that the design was meant to fit a 5-foot-7 woman — even though the average back then was just 5-foot-3 (and still 5-foot-4 today).
Or, it might be that ad executives liked that the counter was exactly a yardstick high. Quartz points out that kitchen ads from that period even showed a woman standing next to the sink with a yardstick — which measured both the standard counter and, as such, the "standard" woman (hmm).
Our take? Since we've never known what it's like to have a countertop made specifically for our comfort, it's hard to know what we're missing. But it does sound pretty fabulous. Fingers crossed that today's modern technologies make custom-height kitchens the next throwback trend. In fact, we'll take an adjustable version, please — after all, men cook these days, too!
[via Quartz, h/t Jezebel