The Kays catalogues of the first few decades of the twentieth century don’t show much concern for making the kitchen something pretty to look at. They’re far more interested in selling attractive bits and bobs for when you bring the food to the table.

'CONDIMENT SET in Powder Blue Pottery with brightly effective leaf decoration.' Autumn/Winter 1935.
‘CONDIMENT SET in Powder Blue Pottery with brightly effective leaf decoration.’ Autumn/Winter 1935.

But a lifestyle advice page in the catalogue for Autumn/Winter 1947 has some rather different ideas:

‘Get away from the usual white, and off-white, shades that are generally used in kitchen decoration, and paint your walls duck-egg blue, pale yellow or a soft clear green. Hang bright plastic curtains over your windows either in the same shade as the walls or in bright contrasting colours.’

That may not sound very pretty to you, but presumably it did to at least one person in the 1940s.

A little further forwards in time, the catalogue for Spring/Summer 1950 advertises ‘highly polished’ aluminium pans as ‘your opportunity to brighten your kitchen’. The catalogue page is rather bright itself, and the pans have been shaded to look nice and shiny.

'Your opportunity to brighten your kitchen', Spring/Summer 1950.
‘Your opportunity to brighten your kitchen’, Spring/Summer 1950.

There’s also an ‘attractive’ as well as ‘hygienic’ bread bin and ‘dependable domestic scales’ finished in ‘beautiful Green or Blue shade’.

Spring/Summer 1954 goes further, and tells you that a set of scales is ‘beautiful in shape, line and finish’. It also offers ‘a brightly coloured canister set to please every housewife’, with ‘an excellent and decorative bread bin’ to match, as part of a special ‘Cranbourne’ range.

'The "Cranbourne" range of Worcester ware', Spring/Summer 1954.
‘The “Cranbourne” range of Worcester ware’, Spring/Summer 1954.

Even the lower cost range includes ‘beautiful green enamelled pans’.

A page entitled ‘Home Lovers Section’ (sic) shows a couple gazing dreamily at a nice-looking house, apparently imagining the lovely rooms inside: a bedroom, a lounge and a kitchen, but no dining room in sight.

Fancy tablewear does continue to appear: Spring/Summer 1959 has a crystal ‘composite set’ including butter dish, sugar basin and cream jug. But it takes up a lot less space in the catalogue compared to the kitchen.

1959’s kitchenwear and kitchen furniture is colourful.

'COLOURFUL kitchen furniture', Spring/Summer 1959.
‘COLOURFUL kitchen furniture’, Spring/Summer 1959.

You can get ‘colourful kitchen furniture’ in red, blue, green or primrose, as well as cream, grey or white. Or you can get ‘”Kitpak” metal kitchen furniture’ with cabinet doors in red, blue, yellow or green.  You can buy a ‘Colorama’ set of saucepans, or ‘”Vogue” Jewel Box’ pans, ‘polished to a mirror-like finish’. Or you can put ‘colour in the kitchen with Jetware from Kays’ or buy ‘Jury Jetware for cheerfulness in the kitchen’.

'Colour in the kitchen with Jetware from Kays', Spring/Summer 1959.
‘Colour in the kitchen’, Spring/Summer 1959.

A definite change from the ‘utility kitchen set’ of 1928.