History of Homes: What’s Changed in 100 Years
Ever feel like keeping up with the Joneses is more like keeping up with the Kardashians? Our decor doesn’t feel right, our homes don’t feel big enough, it just doesn’t seem to be enough.
After a recent conversation with my family about why our 2500 sq/ft home wasn’t big enough for our extended family to come and hang out in. It got me wondering…Is our home not big enough? When we have kids that fills these extra bedrooms we bought to grow into, will we just feel like we’re being consumed? Will kids simply take over our entire home?
And then I thought about my grandparents and my great grandparents. This was never an issue in their day before consumerism plagued our culture. So what changed over the course of the last 100 years and can we go back to the way our grandparents did it and build simpler, calmer homes?
From what I found, the answer is a whole-hearted yes! Here’s how homes have changed since 1900 and how we can learn a thing or two about how our grandparents built their homes.
In addition to the change is square footage and family size we’ve also seen a few major home changes in the last 10-50 years.
In the 1950’s a lot changed as World War II was now over and the industrial revolution was in full fruition. Bathrooms were seen in almost every home, whereas in the early 1900’s outhouses were all the rage. We also had the introduction to the walk-in closet, although these were bedroom size like we see in houses being build today. Instead, like our 1969 home, it’s just big enough to walk into, turn around, and walk out. But in actuality is really all you need (emphasis on need). This was also when the layout of kitchens and more of a focus on them changed.
Before the 1950’s the kitchen was for the homemaker only (aka the woman of home the.) Therefore the only person who needed to fit in the kitchen was the person doing the cooking (remember we’re in a single family home, not Downton Abbey with a full commercial kitchen and staff!) As things changed, we brought families into the kitchen to spend more time together making the need for them a bit bigger. However, I would say that the kitchen size has gotten way out of hand in recent years for homeowners wanting two islands and tons of counter space when they really only use this space for holidays and special occasions instead of day to day cooking. (and even with day-to-day cooking, nobody needs THAT much space!)
So many of these new trends starting in the 50’s weren’t necessary before because the cost of clothes and kitchen were more expensive so we had very little in our homes. The need for storage didn’t really exist. Instead the home was a place to be warm, share meals together, and interact as a family–cards, reading, painting, playing music, and when the television came out, maybe watching one of three program options. But at materials and things became cheaper and the size of our homes grew, we’ve continued on an exponential growth chart when it comes to all things including our homes since the mid-century.
In many ways this research opened my eyes to how much I’ve been trying to keep up with the Joneses. Of course we can raise a family in this space, of course we can have family gatherings and parties. Our ancestors have done so much with a lot less, and its really a privilege to even be asking this question “is this enough.” So as we plan for a family in the future I go back to how homes looked 100 years ago. Less. That’s the goal. While a minimalist style won’t be in the card (you can read about my love for maximalism here) I still believe in being intentional with everything that comes into our space and remembering that we don’t need it all.
**Header image highlights the Modern Magic wallpaper, Lemons available here.