Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Colour Scheme

The basic colour scheme for the 1920s - and the 1930s - kitchen was blue and white. Blue was the colour of the sky. White was "hygienic" and "pure".

In 1920 an Adelaide manufacturer of self-raising flour offered a model kitchen as a prize in their cooking competition. The "tastefully selected furnishings are chiefly in white enamel," reported the Adelaide Register, while the lino had a blue-and-white pattern and the dresser was white with a blue border (30 March 1920).

In 1925, in Melbourne, James McEwan & Co constructed a model kitchen in their Elizabeth St store "with an eye to comfort, hygiene and good cooking". The Argus reported that the kitchen "presents the clean appearance which blue and white tiles and linoleum give" (3 Dec p.7).

In 1930 the Hobart Mercury published the illustration above of a woman in a tiny modern kitchen: "The table, chairs, the tiny [meat] safe that stands in one corner, and the compact cabinet are blue stippled with cream to give them a dappled effect. The cream ceiling comes down to meet the blue walls in a fairly deep frieze. The gas stove shows the same effect of mottled blue and white as the furniture. There are blue and white cambric curtains at the window...". Even the unseen crockery and kitchen clock (both featuring windmills) are blue-and-white and the pots and kettle "in mottled enamel matched the stove exactly".

An English woman designer, Mrs Darcy Braddell, designed a "weekend cottage" with a blue-and-white kitchen colour scheme for the English pavilion at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1937. "Here brightness is achieved and hygiene is encouraged by an extensive use of white", the Sydney Morning Herald reported (13 Sep 1938, p 6S). The walls were cream. The cork tiles on the floor were blue and white. The dresser was blue and white. The Herald article was reprinted, with variations and various reporters' own additions, around the country.

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