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Kitchen Designer reacts to kitchens from iconic TV shows

Ever noticed those changes while binge-watching your favorite old TV shows? We sat down with Crystal Clarke, Senior Designer at FORM, to get her take on iconic TV kitchens from the '80s and '90s, and review some of its key features and relevance to the design industry today.

Gabriela Alvarado

September 1, 2023

Kitchen Designer reacts to kitchens from iconic TV shows intro

Kitchen aesthetics and design have shifted big-time over the years, blending our evolving lifestyles, tech advancements, and cultural shifts. Ever noticed those changes while binge-watching your favorite old TV shows? We sat down with Crystal Clarke, Senior Designer at FORM, to get her take on iconic TV kitchens from the '80s and '90s, and review some of its key features and relevance to the design industry today.

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The Brady Bunch kitchen: a family kitchen

What's striking about the kitchen from the iconic 1970s show is its enduring relevance. With minor updates, it could seamlessly fit into today's modern designs. During that period, kitchens transitioned from being purely functional spaces to more open and communal areas. The rise of the "family kitchen" concept emphasized this shift, making it a space for both culinary pursuits and social interactions. This evolution was vividly illustrated in the show, as the Brady family often congregated around their kitchen island, highlighting the room's centrality in daily life.

What would you change to refresh this kitchen today?

- In a modern design, we would definitely change the fridge into a panel-ready integrated refrigerator.

- The kitchen island had a very unique form, so if I had to remodel this kitchen I would review the functional layout of the island to determine whether we would make it smaller or larger or change the form it has to meet the client’s needs and lifestyle.

- The finishes scream 1970s. So you could replace the orange laminate countertops and backsplash with a gorgeous quirk stone or natural stone. But being true to the Brady’s and mid-century design, most likely, we would keep a lot of these wood cabinets and refresh countertops and see if the cabinet configuration work and appliances are in the right place.

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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: 90’s luxury kitchen

Jumping ahead to the nineties, we find ourselves in Bel-Air, examining the iconic kitchen where Will Smith and his cousins spent their time in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". The Banks family epitomized the luxurious California lifestyle of the era. Over the years, this California aesthetic has evolved considerably. As someone who collaborates with numerous clients from the region, I've observed a distinct shift towards modern designs.


What would you change?

- Replace that open plate holder with a modern cabinet that helps you keep stuff away from sight. This setup contrasts with European designs, where an open plate holder is less common. 

- This kitchen design hints at the Shaker style, which is emblematic of the 80s and 90s. I would update the cabinet front for the modern takes on the Shaker, seamlessly blending tradition with contemporaneity.

- The backsplash tile. This tile style is not used anymore these days, but tiles are still used today. So, I would change them for geometric tiles that give more texture or dimension. 

- And the countertop, I would change it to a bold, natural stone to be on trend.

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Monica’s Kitchen from FRIENDS

Set against the backdrop of New York, "Friends" showcases uniquely charming spaces. When considering a modern-day renovation of its kitchen, several elements stand out for potential improvement. 


What would you change?

- Firstly, I would discuss replacing the table with a more open butcher block island, enhancing both functionality and countertop space.

- To further maximize counter space in such a compact kitchen, one might consider transitioning to under-counter refrigeration. This would involve introducing under-counter drawers or a beverage center in place of the traditional refrigerator.

- Additionally, while the room does feature a central lighting fixture, it offers an excellent opportunity for a design upgrade. Replacing it with a modern pendant could serve as a bold statement piece, elevating the room's aesthetic.

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“One of the things I love as a designer is looking at the past and seeing how it informs our current design environment. It really is amazing how these kitchens made for TV are still relevant and have influenced the design industry today.”


If your kitchen looks as outdated as one of those from the iconic TV shows, book a free consultation here with our design professionals to start your kitchen makeover.

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Danny Soos & Tom Sherman

FORM Co-Founders

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