The kitchen has traditionally had three main design elements, the cabinets, work space and the appliances. The cabinets are used for storage, counters are used as preparation areas and the appliances for food preparation or various other handling like refrigeration, cooking, cutting, etc. Up until after World War II, in the United States all three were provided by stand alone pieces of furniture. In big English kitchens large work tables were magnets for families as well as useful counter space.
After World War II, when there was a boom of cookie cutter home construction in the U.S., kitchens acquired built in cabinets and counters. The kitchen became more utilitarian and was usually reserved for the woman of the home and used exclusively for cooking, while other parts of the home were designated for the actual eating and all other activities.
Modern kitchens have reverted to the older model of a more social, open and customized kitchen. Everyone ends up in the kitchen. It again seems to be the place to congregate more often there is more than one cook and families use the space for hanging out.
One new design element that has crept into the kitchen as...