Yearly Archives: 2017

Kitchen Cabinet History

Kitchen cabinets have a surprisingly rich history, going through incredible transformations over the decades.

In centuries past, it was common for kitchen cabinets to consist of open shelves, especially in rural areas. Today, the trend is coming back (at least until homeowners realize open shelving welcomes dust at lightning speed).


In 1920s America, kitchens were all about being spotless, and it’s when the phrase “clean enough to eat off” became popular.

The 1920s was also the heyday of the Hoosier cabinet, similar to a secretary desk with bottom shelves, counter space, and top shelves that opened every which direction. A workspace for Mom, it was created to hold cookbooks, grocery lists, sifters, bins and charts with nutrition information. Hoosiers boasted built-in spice racks and flour sifters.

Kitchen Cabinet Magic

In the 1930s, electronic kitchen appliances were invented, and the American kitchen changed forever. Arriving during the Great Depression, the advances gave many homemakers hope.

The 1940s was a time of banding together during the war, and many homemakers made jam in their small kitchens to help ends meet. Homemade became synonymous with sacrifice and virtue (a pairing that has enjoyed a resurgence lately). Cookbooks cropped up to give pickling directions, and the locavore movement was born, despite not being named as such.

Curious Kitchens

The kitchen became the heart of the home in the 1950s. Floral patterns started popping up, and decorating the kitchen became an obsession. In this decade, you could find U-shaped kitchens and the first architecture design where the stovetop, refrigerator and sink were placed in a triangle, ideally about equal distances apart.

One-of-a-kind designs, custom kitchen cabinet paint jobs, and shelf liner in cabinets were popular in the ’50s. Double ovens, separate cooktops and kitchen islands appeared.

These trends continued until the 1970s, when the feminist wave entered full force and women began retreating from the kitchen. The 1970s is a no man’s land for kitchens, a curious and strange time when few innovations popped up. Is it any wonder it’s the era of avocado-colored appliances?

A New Era

By the time 1980 rolled around, microwaves were common, the first celebrity cooks appeared on television and there were wine racks, pot racks and special cookbook shelves built into many kitchen cabinets.

Kitchens got brighter and much better equipped, a segue to today’s gourmet chef kitchens. During the 1990s, McMansions popped up with oversized kitchens boasting stunning cabinets and granite countertops, and the kitchen was often one of the biggest rooms in the home.

Ready to see what the latest kitchen cabinet trends have to offer? Call AWA Kitchen Cabinet and start designing your dream kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen Cabinet Weight Capacities

How much weight can your overhead kitchen cabinets really hold?

kitchen cabinet weight

Dishes are getting heavier, especially compared to the fine, small, lightweight options our grandparents used. We’re also collecting more dishes that are sturdier, as Americans embrace the idea of the home gourmet chef. However, kitchen cabinets aren’t indestructible, and even the most durable ones can gine way under too much weight.

According to the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, the weight limit of the average kitchen cabinet is 600 pounds. It sounds like a lot, but keep in mind this is an average for the entire overhead cabinet unit (not per shelf).

Of course, the average kitchen cabinet load won’t even come close to reaching this capacity, but you still don’t want to take any chances. If you have older kitchen cabinets, or poor quality cabinets, they likely can hold much less weight.

Kitchen Cabinet Standards

Most kitchen cabinet manufacturers dictate their own weight limits, and 500 pounds is more common (albeit likely a conservative estimate). If you’re having custom wood kitchen cabinets built, they won’t come with a manufacturer’s suggested weight limit. Talk with your carpenter, and if you’re worried about overloading kitchen cabinets, you can request additional support for peace of mind.

Cabinet material, construction, fasteners, studs, joists and more are all part of the cocktail that make up the kitchen cabinet weight limits. Higher-quality cabinets can hold more, heavier dishes. However, you still want to evenly distribute weight whenever you can.

Utilize the top cabinets, even if you can’t reach them without a ladder, and reserve those spaces for less-frequently-used items.

What About Pantries?

Generally, pantry shelves are designed to hold more weight than overhead kitchen cabinets. Pantries are also usually more accessible than some kitchen cabinet shelves, and are a great option for storing heavier dishes. Reserving kitchen cabinets for foods and spices, which are lighter in weight, is a great alternative if you’re worried about weight limits. When pantries are so close to the kitchen, using them for dishes and flatware is an easy swap.

Most kitchen cabinet shelves consist of ¾-inch thick materials. Abiding by that thickness is a must if you’re following established weight standards. Some homeowners try to save money and choose thinner shelving materials, sometimes as slim as 5/8 inches, and doing so will dramatically decrease weight limits.

It’s What’s Inside That Matters

Most overhead kitchen cabinets are also 1 foot deep. Going with deeper cabinets will modify weight limits. Common shelving materials include plywood and particleboard. Both materials are good choices, but plywood tends to hold fasteners much better than particleboard.

Adjustable shelves, increasingly popular, have their own rules. Each metal clip can hold about 25 pounds, while plastic clips can hold just 10 pounds. Checking the quality of the screws is also important. Craftsmen will tell you that 3-inch, coarse, No. 10 screws are ideal and can increase weight capacity.

Want to ensure you get the best kitchen cupboards? Call AWA Kitchen Cabinet today.