The perfect 50s housewife

How to be a perfect ’50s housewife: In the kitchen

Whether you preferred the term “housewife” or “homemaker,” if you were a married woman in the 1950s, it was a job without parallel. (Well, to be fair, it was the only job around for the majority of ladies.)

Take a trip down memory lane with this lighthearted look back at how advertisers portrayed the sunny days of yesteryear, when a woman’s home was her castle — and her kitchen was the heart of that home.

As a ’50s housewife, the kitchen was the center of your life


As a '50s housewife, the kitchen was the center of your life

Always make enough to feed a small army

A full oven equaled a happy family. (Dinner for six, coming up!)

Always make enough to feed a small army

Happy '50s housewife cooking in the kitchen

The ’50s housewife keeps the family guessing

While you prepare that feast, don’t let your pesky kids and husband get in the way. Put ’em outside — and yes, even your backyard is only 6 feet deep, and yes, even if it’s raining. They won’t melt! And you will get the peace you need to make dinner for everyone while you ensure that you don’t have a single hair out of place.

A full oven in the housewife's kitchen in 1959

That’s a kitchen of a different color

This Dorothy clicked her heels three times, and ended up alone in a kitchen she called “a nightmare,” simply because the bright blue cabinetry made her skin look sallow and was most unbecoming.

Geneva Modern Kitchens in blue from 1958

The ’50s housewife has her golden hour

Loretta here doesn’t just dress for dinner — she gets fancy and matchy-matchy just to make dinner! Tonight’s menu: Boiled cabbage and pumpkin pie.

The happy 50s housewife with her pink oven in 1958

Make your own all-you-can eat buffet

Below might be a typical weeknight dinner: Rotisserie-cooked ham, mashed potatoes, asparagus, a nifty frankfurter casserole, salad, fruit and an angel food cake. (There’s also a pot of Bearnaise sauce simmering on the stove.) Important note: Never forget to wear an apron. And pearls.

Make your own all-you-can eat buffet

“Thank you, darling”

For the ’50s housewife/chef, your cooking was often so appreciated, you were given a golden crown — because you were just that wonderful.

In 1959 the fifties housewife got to wear a crown

Cleaning up is half the fun for the ’50s housewife

As if the food wasn’t impressive enough, well, the dishwasher was truly something worth sharing with guests.

Showing company your new dishwasher

Your husband even knew that the fancy counter-height dishwasher got you in the mood.

ALSO SEE: How to be a perfect ’50s housewife: Refrigerator edition

A fancy counter-height dishwasher

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Fun with your kitchen

Appliances aside, decorating your beloved lair with joyful little flourishes was one of the greatest joys of kitchen ownership.

Housewife decorating the kitchen

Housewife making shelving pretty!

Extra fun times for the ’50s housewife

When you were down, there was nothing quite so uplifting as reorganizing the whole room. Since it was your lair, you could even use the oven and the floor to store items. When you have everything positioned just so, relax with a nice crossword puzzle!

Reorganize your kitchen

“Well, Betty – you would not believe…”

Every now and then, your adoration went so deep, you completely ignored what the kids were doing in lieu of describing your homemaking happiness to the person unfortunate enough to be on the other end of the telephone. (A mere four seconds later, Edith had to hang up, because little Susan screamed like a banshee when Junior whacked her on the head with a spoon full of frosting.)

50s housewife talking on the kitchen phone

Real housewives: The next generation

And when things get really, really incredible? You will know it because your teen daughter comes home after school and cooks some bacon, takes off one of her penny loafers, and sits down on your pristine kitchen floor. Then she gazes gratefully toward the heavens as she calls her dad to thank him for working that 9-to-5 job so she and you can have the kind of gift that keeps on giving: A fabulous fifties kitchen.

MORE: How to be a perfect fifties housewife: Laundry edition

The joy of kitchens

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