Kitchens were typically open plan, with an electric stove, a fridge, and plenty of built-in storage.

Original details

The houses of the 1970s typically had living and dining areas and the kitchen in a more or less open plan layout, with storage units, a partial wall or an L-shaped configuration to define the separate areas.

The kitchen layout was generally L- shaped, U-shaped or galley style (long and narrow) to incorporate the design philosophy of a work triangle between the sink, stove and refrigerator.


Basic kitchen appliances typically included:

  • a floor mounted electric or gas stove (gas could only be installed if there was a reticulated gas supply), and
  • a fridge/freezer unit.

Larger houses sometimes had wall ovens with a separate hob, or bench mounted ovens with the oven and hobs side by side. Some houses had rangehoods, dishwashers, microwaves, in-sink waste disposal units, and side-by-side fridge freezers.

Electric stoves were in standard widths 560, 610 and 686 mm.

Cupboards and benches

Kitchens typically had had built-in, plastic laminate (Formica) or stainless steel bench tops, with cupboards and drawers for storage below. It was common for the sink bench to be stainless steel with an integral sink with the remaining benches being Formica. Mosaic tile inserts were often provided in a Formica bench top adjacent to the stove.

Wall-mounted cupboards above benches were standard, along with space for the stove and fridge.
The hot water storage cylinder cupboard was generally accessed from the hallway.
See Other joinery for more detail.

Electrical outlets

The kitchens of 1970s houses typically had multiple power outlets, reflecting the increased range of appliances in use. As well as power for the stove and fridge/freezer, small appliances such as toasters and mixers became more common. Power outlets were typically installed approximately 1.2 m above the floor.  See electricity and gas for more.

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Common modifications

Some 1970’s kitchens and bathrooms remain in close to their original condition. Joinery units, built in timber framework and plywood or coreboard, were durable and as a consequence, may have withstood the decades of use well.

Upgrading or modernisation may have included the installation of new appliances such as dishwasher, microwave and rangehood, new bench tops, new wall linings and floor finishes, and perhaps new joinery units. But kitchens were generally large enough to accommodate new fittings without major alterations.

If the kitchen was not open plan, alterations may have been made to open it up to the dining and living areas.