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The house the 50s built

UK readers, if you're home tonight, and interested in 1950s design, Channel 4 has an interesting new four-part series charting the development of British homes in the 1950s.

Or, rather, it charts the domestic innovations that "transformed the way we lived and catapulted an exhausted, post-war country into the modernity of 1950s Britain."

Image: Channel 4
Part-history, part nostalgia porn, each episode reconstructs one room in a house, fast-forwarding it through the era to show how much things changed in British homes post-war. Tonight, it's all about the kitchen, where fitted units, fridges and food processors were dazzling innovations that began to change women's roles radically as they shook off the shackles of 70-odd hours of housework a week.

The series is presented by Brendan Walker and features, of course, interviews with Kevin McCloud, Wayne and Geradine "Vintage Festival" Hemingway as well as people who lived through these changes on the home front. Subsequent episodes cover the living room and the bedroom, and it's on at 9pm, and will be on 40d if you miss it. But in case you do, some fifties kitchen images to drool over, and some period-appropriate resources...

There are several UK firms that will create you a 1950s kitchen from scratch. Peter Henderson Furniture (pictured above) is one. Isn't this beautiful? I like that it hasn't gone down the shiny, diner style look, which I really don't like. It also looks pleasingly authentic and simple – I much prefer this idea to a pastiche recreation with pastel Smeg and repro everything, except for the really ugly modern curved glass extractor fan, perhaps. This one almost looks like it was left behind by the previous owners. You can get your own worktops and cupboards coated with Formica (TM) like this – this rather glorious old-school shade is called Chrome Yellow.

The cupboards above have been meticulously restored by Source Antiques in Bath, who specialise in 1950s fitted kitchens of the English Rose and Paul Metalcraft variety. Less my kind of thing, but they could be good if accessorised sensitively.

This kitchen is from 1961, which shows how things moved on from the decades earlier designs (above). I love it – all that wood, the sleek lack of handles on the upper units. the un-gaudiness and elegance. And just look at the sheen on that lino.


These kitchen scoops are new, but understated enough to get away with it and give a whiff of nostalgia.

They come in various different colours and proportions and start at £175 for a three-scoop unit from Ella's Kitchen Company.

Etsy is a fantastic treasure trove of 1950s bits and pieces for very good prices. Here are a couple that caught my eye...

Mustard-yellow storage canisters, £22, from Old Keys Vintage on Etsy

Set of five collectible Homemaker plates, £65, Emma Loves xxx, on Etsy

East German drip catcher, £14, from Etsy Berlin

Other good shops for original 1950s accessories include Pip's Trip (great for glassware and ceramics), The OK Corral (great for the unexpected, and original cookery books, which I like to prop up on display on shelves) and H is for Home (great for colour)

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