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The slick stainless steel gourmet kitchens lusted after by many design enthusiasts today may represent a futuristic aesthetic for us, but they haven’t always been the ideal. In previous generations, other trends have piqued the imaginations of those intent on creating the kitchen of their dreams.

These retro kitchens, compiled by the Home-Designing blog, give a telling glimpse into the ideals and preferences of previous decades. They provide a fantastic point of reference for anyone seeking to redo their own kitchen.

In generations past, appliances, cabinetry and fixtures were meant to last at least as long as the house itself. On the rare occasion that a complete kitchen overhaul was undertaken, it was typical to reuse the existing elements rather than tear them out and throw them away.

This workmanship is evident even in these very old images. The built-in cabinetry was heavy, sturdy and often painted to match the rest of the kitchen. When a redesign was desired, it was easy enough to paint the cabinets a different color and change out the hardware rather than simply trashing and replacing an entire room full of cabinets and cupboards.

Some of the aesthetic choices might be questionable today – particularly the patterned linoleum floors – but there are still some sound design ideas to be found in these retro kitchens. The busy but uncluttered appearances, the prim and proper “everything in its place” organization, the little splashes of unexpected color – they all contribute to the very appealing sense of home in these history-rich kitchens.