For as long as humans have been cooking food they’ve needed a place to prepare it. Most of us don’t think about the history of countertops and the role they play in our lives. The earliest “kitchens” were just a fireside hearth, usually made of stone, which served as a countertop. Eventually, cooks moved away from the fireplace and into a dedicated kitchen space. They built their work surfaces out of the most readily available materials at that time, stone and wood.
Countertops were purely utilitarian until the 1800s. This is when upscale kitchens began using luxury materials like marble, fine woods, and even metal. These status symbols were mostly reserved for pantries or serving areas that guests would see. The kitchen itself was mostly constructed with sturdy wood with very little thought to aesthetics. Still, this is a turning point in the history of countertops.
In America, the industrial revolution created the upper and lower-middle classes. The upper-middle class often mimicked the trends of upper-class estate owners and nobles. They wanted to use the luxurious materials those people did, but since many of them didn’t have separate serving areas in their smaller homes, they used them in their regular kitchens. Soapstone and slate were plentiful in the Northeast. Marble became popular everywhere as pastry chefs realized how much easier it was to roll dough on the cool surface. After that, granite found it’s way into the homes of Americans everywhere. Even traditional wood surfaces were transformed into the butcher block we’re familiar with today. Homeowners realized they could build a kitchen with both form and function, changing kitchen design forever.
As new technologies and materials were developed kitchen trends changed drastically. In the early 1900s metals such as stainless steel and nickel became popular. After World War II laminate countertops burst onto the scene. Homeowners could have kitchens in any color of the rainbow, which they fully embraced as many of today’s home-renovators can attest to. In more modern times we’ve begun to create countertops out of concrete, glass, and even pressed paper.
The history of countertops is more interesting than many people would think. It tells a tale of human innovation and how we brought that innovation into our homes. Natural stones like granite, marble, soapstone, and travertine are still immensely popular for their timeless beauty and durability. Engineered stone has given us the ability to create almost any pattern or color we can dream of without sacrificing durability. Materials that were once used sparingly can be found in kitchens, bathrooms, and more.
We can fabricate countertops that our forefathers wouldn’t have even imagined. Contact us today about how we can bring innovation into your home.