Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Feet in the kitchen!

No, I don't mean those kind of feet. (And one should NEVER have bare feet in the kitchen! And no flip-flips for goodness sake... there's a post for you: Why'd we stop wearing real shoes? But I digress...).

When all the appliances that we now take for granted came along, they indeed looked a little different from what they look like today. Much like cars (and some were made by the same people who made cars), appliances had a brand-specific look to them. They were built to stand out, to look impressive, and to make the homemaker feel like she was in charge--and in many ways, she finally was. No fires to build, no ice to order/carry/clean up after. No worn-down hands after a load of laundry in hot water and caustic detergents. No more was the homemaker subject to some of the hardest labor she (and yes, sometimes he...) had known. She was entering the modern world!

Appliances--and the space-age new kitchen they were increasingly made for and expected to go in--were life-changers. It's hard for us to imagine just how revolutionary a stove must have been. No more building or tending fires, or cleaning out ash, or trying to regulate temperature with no idea how hot an oven was or how long it would stay that way. If women's lives were changed (and it is certainly debatable to what extent new appliances really affected women's lives as there were/are other issues at hand), men certainly thought they were providing the most innovative and precious gifts to their women. Architect Alfred Levitt said this about his 1940s/50s kitchen designs: "Thanks to the number of appliances in our house, the girls will have three hours to kill every afternoon." (Read more about Levitt and his Levittown here: Alfred Levitt) "The girls" just wouldn't know what to do with themselves, would they?

But let me get back to my question. And I really begin with a question for which I know the answer. Why'd we stop putting feet on our appliances? I know. It's about space, and sleekness. It's better to have everything all the way down to the floor and all the way up to the ceiling in a kitchen. But... How many times have you lost something under a stove or refrigerator or washing machine. It never fails, does it? And how many times do you pull out the appliance and retrieve your item, or egad, clean under it? Admit it... it's a rare thing to behond.

But imagine, if you will:
Isn't it sweet? Sure, there's no storage anywhere (where DID they keep their dishes?), but just look at the legs and feet, glorious feet. Not only will you never lose anything under THAT refrigerator, you can clean under it. Of course, ignorance can be bliss (I shudder to think of the underside and back side of my fridge...). It just looks so clean and cozy in that little black, white, and robin-egg blue room. Something about these appliances looks like furniture, like an investment. Solidly build and attractively presented; there's even something of friendliness about them.

Now... would I want to cook in there? Well, some countertops would be nice. A larger refrigerator and stove, too. And I'm sure the efficiency has improved and the metals and chemicals those old refrigerators had were anything but attractive.

But that's not my point. Should we bring feet and their attached legs back to appliances? You can clean under them, you can raise or lower (with some modification) to suit your height, and no mouse could hide under there! But that's a good, what? Several cubic feet of lost storage under there. (Note for future post: Why'd we stop not having so dang much stuff??) There are pros and cons to this idea. But lately, I've sure been wishing I could get to the underside of mine for a good clean out. But since I can't... well, gee. That probably gives me a good couple of hours "extra" this afternoon. Wonder how I'll "kill" it, Mr. Levitt!

What do you think about appliances that stand tall and proud? Yay or nay? I'd love to hear from you!

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