“Retro TV Kitchens” was series of blog posts created to introduce the somewhat esoteric subject of Kitchen Design to the average homeowner using a familiar touchpoint, in a light-hearted, and approachable manner.
“Just like your mom, only funnier.”
After seeing perfect or near-perfect families dominate sitcoms and dramas alike, along came the Conners in 1988 and TV has never been the same. Portraying a solidly middle-class family with real-world problems, viewers found the stories easy to relate to. The show touched on many everyday, blue-collar themes including money, job loss, raising children, aging, and death. The exploration of family relationships set against the backdrop of two working parents, coupled with Roseanne Barr’s and John Goodman’s witty banter, made the show an instant hit.
Even for the late 1980’s the Conner’s kitchen feels dated. And why wouldn’t it be? Why splurge on new appliances when that late 1960’s refrigerator in stunning “Coppertone” brown is still humming along?!? Who can afford a new fridge working at a plastics factory, anyway. And let’s not even mention that wallpaper! (What’s on there? Fruit??)
The kitchen – much like the rest of the house – has clearly been lived in, and not gently so. There are usually dishes in the sink, and more drying in the wire rack on the laminate counter. A stray dishrag can often be spotted hanging from the refrigerator handle or the oven door. The built-in pantry contributes to the general feeling of chaos in the home as its open shelving exposes a mish-mash of cans and boxes. With no formal dining room, the kitchen table is center of family and social life, a fact driven home by its prominence during the opening title sequence.
The real home shown in the credits was built in 1925. If we’re to use that date to age the kitchen, then we quickly see the kitchen had been updated at least once after its initial construction. Throughout the 1920’s, cabinetry with “inset-style” doors and drawers was by far the most dominant, if not entirely exclusive style. The cabinets seen during the show are called “partial overlay,” and would have likely been installed during a kitchen remodel during the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. This date can be confirmed by the three parallel horizontal vent holes visible in the false drawer front beneath the sink — a hallmark of kitchen cabinets from that era.
Instead of suburban Chicago, establishing shots of the exterior of the home and surrounding neighborhood were actually filmed in Evansville, Indiana. The house itself is still standing at 619 South Runnymeade Avenue, and was up for sale just a few years ago. ($129,000 since you asked) Sadly, the interior layout of the home does not at all resemble what we came to know as the home of Dan and Roseanne Conner in Lanford, IL.